Say you decide to read Finnigans Wake. Say you read it and read it and read it. Most of the time, it is a mess. Slowly, you begin to think you recognize certain recurring elements, you think you might be unraveling some of the wordplay . . . but still, who are we kidding, it is a big huge mess. Onward you trudge.
And then, you get to the second to last chapter. Scholars will tell you that now the day is breaking and that Earwicker's dream is ending. Suddenly, at page 556 (just 72 pages to go!), just four paragraphs into the chapter, you find why you've been sticking with this book for so long:
night by silentsailing night while infantina Isobel (who will be blushing all day to be, when she growed up one Sudnay, Saint Holy and Saint Ivory, when she took the neil, the beautiful presentation nun, so barely twenty, in her pure coif, sister Isobel, and next Sunday, Mistlemas, when she looked a peach, the beautiful Samaritan, still as beautiful and still in her teens, nurse Saintette Isabelle, with stiffstarched cuffs but on Holiday, Christmas, Easter mornings when she wore a wreath, the wonderful widow of eighteen springs, Madame Isa Veuve La Belle, so sad but lucksome in her boyblue's long black with orange blossoming weeper's veil) for she was the only girl they loved, as she is the queenly pearl you prize, because of the way the night that first we met she is bound to be, methinks, and not in vain, the darling of my heart, sleeping in her april cot, within her singachamer, with her greengageflavoured candywhistle duetted to the crazyquilt, Isobel, she is so pretty, truth to tell, wildwood's eyes and primarose hair, quietly, all the woods so wild, in mauves of moss and daphnedews, how all so still she lay, neath of the whitethorn, child of tree, like some losthappy leaf, like blowing flower stilled, as fain would she anon, for soon again 'twill be, win me, woo me, we me, ah weary me! deeply, now evencalm lay sleeping:
And so, I ask, what will you do with your life?
"The wonderful widow of eighteen springs" Are you kidding me? If I were to excerpt each of the lines from that paragraph that give me goosebumps and mist up my eyes, I'd wind up rewriting the paragraph three times over . . . but I can't resist "for she was the only girl they loved, as she is the queenly pearl you prize, because of the way the night that first we met she is bound to be, methinks, and not in vain, the darling of my heart . . ." This must be how fathers feel about their baby daughters, I can't imagine it's any other thing. "how all so still she lay, neat of the whitethorn, child of tree, like some losthappy leaf . . . win me, woo me, we me, ah weary me!" James Joyce: more awesome than the Wu-Tang Clan.
"we me"? wow.