Proposal for WORLD-AROUND WAKE: An Extended Audio Composition of/about Finnegans Wake

Since James Joyce's classic Finnegans Wake is composed of many languages, I have begun to record superb readers native to many languages declaiming the "Anna Livia Plurabelle" section of the original 1939 text. I've so far taped Americans, a Bulgarian, a Russian, two British women, a Dutchman, a Japanese, and a Texas woman who lived for a while in Dublin. I've have at various times approached Frenchmen, Hungarians, Swedes, Germans, Rumanians, and Italians, among others, all of whom have agreed; but since the project lacked a sponsor, I've refrained from wasting their time. These declamations, reflecting various accents and declamatory styles, will be interwoven into an aurally seamless rendition that will represent an international acoustic interpretation of the Wake's unique multilingual language. As I now envision it, for most of the work's duration, only one or two of the many readers will be audible at any time; they will fade it and out of one another. At certain climaxes, many voices will join together. As Joyce himself recorded part of this text, I expect to incorporate his declamation into the final mix (and have received clearance, enclosed, from Folkways-Smithsonian, which produced the disc here). It is hoped that participating radio stations around the world can be induced to record their own best readers; Australia's ABC has already volunteered. As the complete "Anna Livia Plurabelle" runs twenty pages in the book, this World-Around Wake should take perhaps an hour.

In the history of my own work, this proposed piece descends from Kaddish (WDR, 1990), in which people native to two dozen different languages (and accents) are heard reciting the same Hebrew prayer, and Invocations (1981, 1984), which reveals through sixty ministers speaking twenty-four languages the unique sound of words of prayer. Like those earlier pieces of mine, this will use no sounds other than human speech. In this proposed Wake I expect to discover what has not been heard before--the international sound of a multilingual text whose aural eloquence has universal, almost musical appeal. The result should be a classic to be broadcast around the world and eventually put on disc.