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Finnegan Wakes


“A rush, a joy, a spine-tingling feeling. It’s a reading experience like no other. Some strange mix of being cocooned in sound but also connected to something grander.”

-Prof. Katherine O’Callaghan


 “It was an amazing experience... listening and talking in a way we never have done before. The music was not simply “backing music”, but a music in your mind, matching with the text in a unique, original way. Also the whole shooting was directed very well..  A uniquely satisfying event.”

-Ron Ewart:  James Joyce Foundation Zurich


“It has been an incredible experience. Like putting your head in stand-by. The stage director told me not to perform. So I chose a piece of the Irish pianist John Field and just let the text roll over me. The page that I was happening to read meant a lot to me, being full of Italian and Slovenian words. So at one point I was completely into the text. I start thinking that there is something very magical in “Finnegans Wake”.

-Prof. John McCourt: Director of Joyce School Trieste


“My chosen piece of music was a song written by my son when he knew that I had survived a cancer. The title is “Pain Cathedral” and it was inspired by a journey we both did in Milan. While reading and hearing the song I had a break down, and also my friend started crying. But my feeling was of joy, not sadness. The music was guiding me through the text. I have never experienced something so intense like that before, not even while having chemotherapy. I think that the stage director was a great help, I was very emotional.”

 – Dr. Jolanta Wawrzycka, Radford University


"Reading my page of FW while listening to Bach's Cello Suites has been an invaluable jump into my inner self, joining together my emotional and rational being in a heartbeat"  

 -Arianna Autieri


“I felt like a part of my humanity was infused with new life after i read my page of Finnegans wake.  A must do.”

-Sean Rock


“Reading Finnegans Wake in my favorite place while listening to one of my favorite songs was an experience I will never forget. It’s not something that cannot be explained, you have to live it in order to fully grasp its peculiarity.“

-Camilla Capobianco



“I chose an Irish song from my youth, that brought back the anger I felt when I was growing up. I started reading in an angry way, as teenager do. I hate “Finnegans Wake”, but it happened that the page I read meant a lot to me.  can you think of a better thing to do after a few drinks, at 32C, after midnight, in Trieste?.. - Gavan Kennedy's brilliant Finnegan Wakes film project.”

-William Wall.  Author



“The stage director advised me not to start to be logical or trying to being clever. My chosen music was Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone”. So sitting on a corner of Piazza Unità, engrossed in the music, I was brought back to an early life, a 19 years old guy listening to Bob Dylan, but at the same time fused in the text. I think that this kind of reading might open up FW to a bigger audience.”

-Donald Thurlow



“Certainly an extraordinary experience. Thanks to the music you forget yourself and enter a new dimension that enables you to establish a new, different relationship with the text. My chosen piece of music was “I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls” from M.W. Balfe’s “The Bohemian Girl”, but I was surprised to get attached “Come into the garden Maud” that also means a lot to me... that was not the only surprise because I was soon to discover that the page that was allotted to me had many hidden messages.... so, just unforgettable altogether.”

-Elisabetta d’Erme


 “As a matter of fact the idea to have music in headphones enables you to concentrate on the music with the result that you are less scared of the text and thereafter you read it better. Better have the music very loud. The result is an experience of overcoming oneself, to go beyond yourself. A trip.”

-Prof. Laura Pelaschiar.  Director of Joyce School Trieste


“While the music I had chosen was playing and setting my mind loose, reading the page of Finnegans Wake become like mantra which progressively took me away from ‘reality’. I felt being taken by hand along the very notes of the background sound by the master lyric maker and felt more and more relaxed and at peace. What an unexpected powerful and therapeutic experience!”

-Andrea Lari


“I had the feeling that the music was helping me to get into the rhythm of the text, and - accordingly - to its meaning. It has been a highly liberating experience.” 




“What a fantastic opportunity, to read Finnegans Wake to the sound of Says by Nils Frahm at 2am in Trieste! As the song began to swell, so did the page—more and more exclamation marks popping up. The wind was swelling, as well. Thanks so much to Gavan Kennedy for all his time and effort and intensity on the Finnegan Wakes - The Film project.”

-Michaela Kelley



'Lps. The keys to. Given! A way' - What a transcendent experience, this danse macabre with Anna Livia! Very many thanks to Gavan Kennedy and Stephen Mc Ivor, who have been working tirelessly on letting us experience Finnegans Wake through music.  Thanks so much for the opportunity to be part of your mind-blowing project.”

-Tiana Fischer



“What we had to do was just choose a song that really means something to us and then enter into the surreal flow of words that makes Finnegans Wake the book of the night and still a literary adventure. So, here it is my little performance, with Hitherto by Cocteau Twins in the background. A beautiful and strange moment at the same time  :)”

-Lucrezia Peppicelli



“I was uncertain, because I did not know what was expected from me. I think it is very good the idea to hear your preferred song while you are reading. Emotions go through the music and the written word, but in reality you are lost in the song. A real experience. I also think that it has been an excellent idea to shoot in a public space, where you can better forget yourself (in a closed space you may be more yourself). I think that the environment adds value to the experience, that I loved and would like to make again.”



“Being a part of Finnegans Wake reading group in Trieste nights during Trieste Joyce School was an unbelievable experience for me. I was tied in listening to Isfar Sarabski "Novruz", then read the text subconsciously. That was my first time reading Finnegans, but I'm excited to finish it till Baku Wakes…Thanks so much Gavan Kennedy for the opportunity to be part of your magic project!”  

-Ulker Askerova



“The idea of using the music in the headphones is ingenious because it erases any curb, any fear, and enables you just to enjoy the reading. Like playing a game, the music unleashes a sense of freedom, obliterating whatever inhibitions you have.”

-Annalisa Mastronardi



That was my first attempt to taste FW, and it turned out to be absolutely fascinating though I felt a bit nervous at first (I-will-spoil-everything-as-usual feeling so typical for my perfectionist self). Not at all...the combination of my fav “Across the Universe” tune and Joyce’s wor(l)ds made me feel firstly a bit puzzled.. then relieved, relaxed and inspired! After that every seemingly crazy idea seems to be possible and at least worth trying:) As Joyce, it is all about enjoying and having fun. That was how I felt at the moment...Thank you Gavan Kennedy for such unforgettable experience😊 my FW copy is on the way)

-Maria Bondarenko



"Joyce readers love to quote Marshall McLuhan, who said, “LSD is the lazy man's Finnegans Wake.”  I never really took the content of it seriously...  I never got the “trippy” part of it... Until one summer night in Antwerp in 2018... As I sat on a bench reading for the Finnegan Wakes Project, I realized what McLuhan meant...  And as I write this and look back on that night, it occurs to me that it is not just “trippy” but that it is the trip…this was to live life and to laugh at it; to be alone with the words on the page and the music in your ear and the thoughts in your head, but to be fully connected at the same time."

-Prof Gregory Erickson

"It was a funferal that waked me up to Joyce's music! I had so much fun, and would definitely do it again… Thanks for the wonderful experience, Gavan! 💛 now I've started on the Wake and it's still such a rush to read it aloud”

-Alysia Lim



' Reading a page of Finnnegan's wake with my favourite piece of music playing in my ears, is one of my most cherished experiences. The entire experience was unique in its own way. I was losing concentration on the words, focusing on the music, and then going back and coming forth. It was as if I could feel something as I kept reading the page. Thank you for the amazing experience Gavan!

-Shohini Barman


“I have always been very intimidated by FW, so much so, that I haven't had the courage to read it as yet. But reading that page of FW with my favourite piece of music added an element of homeliness to the text, as I put together something I'm so familiar with, and something I want to become familiar with. I also felt pleasantly surprised two things I would never have thought to put together-FW and Joe Hishaishi's Theme for Howl's Moving Castle- just ended up dancing in perfectly choreographed motion. It was breathtaking. I feel like now, it's time to proceed through the Wake.”

-Tirna Chandra 


“It has been a strange experience. The reading taking the time of the music. My chosen piece was the terzetto “Soave sia il vento” from W.A. Mozart’s “Così fan tutte”, and the contrast between the clarity of that piece of music and the complexity of Joyce’s text was weird. But at the end it was the music, reverberating in the head, that revealed the musicality of the text.” 

-John Armstrong


“Surreal!!! ...Bohemian Rhapsody will always take me back to that night book in Piazza unita. 'Is this the real life? / Is this just fantasy? /Caught in the landslide of Wake temporality. /Open your eyes, no, open your ears and seee-eee.' ..Absoutely mental but such fun!! 😂😂 😂 Trying to read aloud 'against' the song was SO bizarre - I think the song won.”

-Prof. Caroline Elbay    


"My experience with the FW Project was wonderful, even if complicated: being able to convey the emotion that music transmits to you through the words of an author like James Joyce was not a piece of cake. Still, I am very grateful to Gavan for allowing me to take part in this project."  

-Enrika Milanese


“It was a  perkodhuskurunbarggruauyagokgorlayorgromgremmitghundhurthrumathunaradidillifaititillibumullunukkunun! experience.”

-Paul Devine



“Reading Finnegan’s Wake to the Pet Shop Boys! Quite a challenge but hugely enjoyable 😅 Thanks Gavan Kennedy for encouraging me to do this 💕”

-Prof. Flicka Small



“I found reading for Finn Wakes surprisingly moving. I paired my page with “Ladies Don’t Play Guitar,” by Tennis, a song that meant a lot to me when I came out to my parents. Listening to that song and recalling that experience rewrote the page for me as I read and opened up personal resonances that had never crossed my mind in my previous reading of the Wake. The experience made me look forward to returning to the Wake, both personally and professionally.”    

-Eric Lewis


“Steeped in music, wine, and ocean air, my first reading of the Wake felt was an immersion in a lucid dream - not an experience to forget.”

-Kevan Decuypere



“Being in the FW Project felt similar to coming to Finnegans Wake for the first time: each page finds its own meaning well beyond the realms of thought and deep into those of sense, in what you hear, in what you feel, and what intertwines with voice and sound to sing to your own tune… Welp, this did happen and I did not just dream of it. Heme aquí, leyendo la página 206 de una versión desconocida de Finnegans Wake (la cual no debe ser difícil de encontrar...).”

-Miguel Ángel Valverde



“this appeared at a very good moment in my life.  Cant wait to go thru it more, it helped me beyond imagination💜”



 “A most enjoyable experience. Wonderful reading Joyce's Wake at the Piazza de la Unita. Very Joycean!!!!Thank you very very much for being far away in my native Argentina it makes me feel as I'd have a phantastic dream!!!!”

-Agnes Mac Kenzie



“I started reading a random page from Finnegans Wake, just like that: no context, nothing. I was nervous, but I was listening to one of my favourite songs. Half way through the page, the rhythm of the music changed and I breathed. The rhythm of the page also changed. I was still confused, but it was flowing; the reading became warm and, suddenly, the page was over. But I wanted more, and I went home wanting to read more, listening the tune on repeat”

-Fernanda Andablo



“Taking part in the FW Project was a beautiful experience. The fear of being recorded reading a difficult text such as Finnegans Wake is dissipated by a very pleasant atmosphere. We are told not to worry about the words on the page, but rather focus on the pleasure of listening to our favorite song while reading. I never thought I could dance FW. I will always remember this experience with a smile on my face.    All the best with this great and beautiful project!  

-Daiane Oliveira



“I chose a piece of heavy metal music. It has been an intense experience. I felt myself connected with the book. It was as my preferred song that the text more friendly to me.”

-Marco. Trieste



“I enjoy the magic experience of reading Finnegans Wake LOUD. In just moments one slips from just reading words and become to be part of the whole book… just pick a page and get united into it all… its like floating into the universe, becoming one with it… overwhelming!!!!”

-Sarah Muller



“I felt like I was reading to Joyce’s kin – an amazing experience that I hope to replicate – go raibh maith agat!”

-Jay Wills


“Reading aloud definitely has, or creates, a kind of magic. #paradigm shifted!”

-Darlene Frederick


“Waked Up Everyone!” -Jeffrey Gordon


“oh that was so much fun :)” -Derek Beaulieu


“Such fun! I enjoyed that immensely.” -Kit Dobson


“Finn so Woke! How fun is this! ☘️❤️” -Adeena Karasick


“OMG - I burst into laughter! This is so much fun ...” -Linda M Morra

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