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Valéry's Serpent and the Wake's Genesis: Toward a Digital Library of James Joyce

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 47, Number 3, Spring 2010
pp. 427-443 | 10.1353/jjq.2011.0022



The idea of a circular structure for Finnegans Wake may have been partly inspired by Giambattista Vico, as James S. Atherton has already suggested in The Books at the "Wake," but other books played a role as well. In this essay, I argue that the conceptualization cannot be reduced to Vico alone. The text explores the signifying functions of the "bibliographic code" and the material aspects of Joyce's personal library in the crystallization of conceptual breakthroughs 1) by focus­ing on Paul Valéry's Le Serpent and its role in the genesis of the Wake and 2) by envisaging the possibilities of a digital reconstruction of Joyce's library.