The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Memorable Magazines (8): A Wake Newslitter

April 30th, 2017 · No Comments

I like the idea of a magazine devoted to only one book, particularly one that has now become so unpopular. A Wake Newslitter was devoted entirely to Finnegans Wake.

Back in 1964, Joyce buffs across the globe sent in their discoveries to Fritz Senn (in Unterengstringen, Switzerland) and Clive Hart (in Newcastle, Australia). Senn and Hart assembled them into a 16 page bimonthly. There were 18 issues published in 1962 and 1963; a new series began in February, 1964, formally dubbed Volume 1, Volume 1. I don’t know how long it ran; the last issue in my collection is from 1980.

That first (but nineteenth) issue contains: a list of languages, from one of Joyce’s notebooks; a piece on the use of Albanian; a list of Swahili words; an article on the gematria of ALP and HCE; references to the Hebrew alphabet; brief notes on “Tumulty,” “hadding,” and “W.K.O.O”; and notes on the Tetragrammaton and the opening words of the four Gospels. There’s also an intriguing query (from Nathan Halper): “Ellmann (p. 662) quotes Samuel Beckett as saying that once, when he was taking dictation, there was a knock on the door. Joyce said ‘Come in’ and Beckett, hearing these words, put them into the text. When he read this back, Joyce was surprised by the words but, after a moment’s thought, he let them stay in the text. Where is this ‘Come in’?”

The thrill of discovery! The exasperation with Joyce! The impatience with other Joyceans!

In 1971, the Newslitter published a ten-year index, listing the references to each page. Here’s a sample.

(Posted by Doug Skinner)

Tags: Literature

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