These three works are some of the earliest published sections from James Joyce’s Work in Progress, later to be incorporated into Finnegans Wake. Where Ulysses encompasses a day in Dublin, Finnegans Wake contains a night in the dreams of a Dubliner.
These reveries are strange, challenging yet profound and funny. The initially disconcerting use of language is not deliberately obscure – in fact the opposite. For Joyce contemporary English expression had become silted up with the mud of cultural and historical convention and he wanted to flush away the dirt; to make clear the water of meaning and reveal the bed it flows over. Language being, like the River Liffey, ever changing yet changeless.
The result is joyous. A stripping back of pretension that is as playful as it is powerful. As an introduction to Finnegans Wake, or in their own right, you don’t just read these works but experience them.