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How Does Eschatology Order This Book of Kills: Religion and Fractal Geometry in Finnegans Wake

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 49, Number 2, Winter 2012
pp. 297-313 | 10.1353/jjq.2012.0015



This essay argues that Joyce’s arrangement of religious references in Finnegans Wake is fractal in nature—that the author addresses the same issues on many scales from word to the book as a whole—and that his treatment is always fractured or incomplete. This arrangement complements a theological definition of eschatology, which seeks an “uttermost” understanding of religious and moral issues, meaning that a final answer is never reached but contemplation of the end brings meaning to the present. Ultimately this technique allows the book to do more than rearrange or comment upon past religious texts but to become in its own sense scriptural, inviting the reader to reach for a new uttermost understanding.

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