About the Project

FINNEGANS WAKE is a comedy about language and human nature.

it’s a dream in which the psyche fragments and battles itself.

it’s the history of dublin, humanity, and a family played out simultaneously, consecutively and concurrently. 

There’s no book like it, but if you had to make comparisons, you might say it’s like a chaotic blend of the Metamorphoses and Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Oh, and the Bible. And the The Divine Comedy. The Book of the Dead. The Life of the Buddha. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy...

Oh, just forget it.

this site records  my foolhardy attempt to illustrate Finnegans Wake. Actually, I’ll be happy to finish book one for now. The curious may peruse the fruit of my hubris via the blog, the slideshow or the index. The resources page contains a slowly growing collection of short essays, including chapter summaries that I hope can shed some light on both the illustrations and the book.

nothing that appears  in Finnegans Wake is ever just one thing. How exactly do you draw a talking fox which is also a mouse, one of two arguing brothers, a pope, and modernist author Wyndham Lewis?

so to anyone who thinks  I called this site “Wake in Progress” just for the sake of a stupid pun, i’d say this: First of all, it’s a great pun. Second, for someone who tends to work quite slowly anyway, it’s slow work, and if I only posted final drafts, you’d probably never see any of it! So no draft is considered final around here – superseded drafts will be archived, leaving a trail of failure to humiliate me in years to come.

so that’s it.  I hope you like it. If, like almost but not quite the entire population of the Earth, you haven’t read Finnegans Wake, I hope it might encourage you to give it a go, and maybe even help you to follow it!


PS. Trent University’s online Finnegans Wake and Raphael Slepon’s database of Finnegans Wake annotations have proved to be invaluable resources for this project.

about me

My name’s Stephen Crowe. I’m an illustrator living in Seattle, and I have an intense love-hate relationship with James Joyce.

email me

visit my website

press and mentions

“The website must be one of the most incredible and beautiful things I have ever seen!”
“The whole thing is framed with a mildly charming aura of self-deprecation...”
Harriet Staff, Poetry Foundation
“I hope that his gorgeous illustrations will serve as an entry point for some readers into that endless (literally), maddening, all-encompassing, and joy(ce)ous text.”
“Easier to illustrate than make a film of the book, I’d have thought...”
John Coulthart
“His blog has many more wonderful images, both for readers of the Wake and for any art enthusiast!”
Weaver of the Wind
“Illustrate Finnegans Wake? That way madness lies.”
“The drawings, like the text of the novel itself, seem ripped from a retro-sophisticated version of a lost Dr. Seuss book, in a good way.”
Black Book
Astrid Wittebolle, Knack.be

Other mentions

Daniel Silliman
In Someone Else’s Dream
Weaver of the Wind
A Piece of Monologue
De Contrabas
James Joyce Quarterly
Ron Silliman
Harriet Staff, Poetry Foundation
The Rumpus
The Millions
Shannon Hubbell
Black Book
Jonathan Shipley
John Coulthart
Read Eat Slip
No Pun Intended
A Building Roam
Astrid Wittebolle, Knack.be
Largehearted Boy
Hello World
The New Inquiry @ Open Salon
The Glass-Bottom Blog
Sean McGrath
Who Killed Lemmy Caution?
Too Gallant
Stan Carey
Paris Weekends