Listen to Multifractal “Finnegans Wake”

It says that “Finnegans Wake” by James Joyce is the most difficult and mysterious novel in the history of literature. Lately researchers at Poland’s Institute of Nuclear Physics investigated a structure of “Finnegans Wake” by using statistical methods to analyze sentence length. The results of their research, published two weeks ago, are fascinating. It turned out that the novel has a complex ‘fractal’ patterning of sentences, put differently, the basic unit of novel is fractal, mathematical object in which each fragment, when expanded, has a form resembling the whole. Besides complex “multifractal structure”, “Finnegans Wake” is distinguished by using 60 different languages, thereby creating “a book impossible to read”. However, Joyce claimed that his novel can be understood by anyone who reads it correctly and aloud. Thus, “Finnegans Wake” is not only book to read, but also (maybe particularly) – book to listen.

Waywords and Meansigns: Recreating Finnegans Wake” is amazing project aimed to translate the entire Joyce’s book to pieces of music. A group of researchers, translator (among them Krzysztof Bartnicki, the author of the polish translation), and artists collectively worked to prepare 35-hour-long audiobook, consisting of 17 songs, and each of them corresponds to the book’s 17 chapters. Multifractal structure of “Finnegans Wake” is captured in various musical compositions, recorded by different musicians from different backgrounds – from amateurs to professional producers. How does each song reflect the significance of each chapter? Without a doubt, this is interesting research for humanists, and precisely for media comparatists.