James Joyce Reads ‘Anna Livia Plurabelle’ from Finnegans Wake

Today is the birthday of James Joyce, who was born in Dublin on February 2, 1882, and wrote in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: “Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.”

To celebrate his life, we present an August 1929 recording of Joyce reading a melodious passage from the “Anna Livia Plurabelle” chapter of his Work in Progress, which would be published ten years later as Finnegans Wake. The recording was made in Cambridge, England, at the arrangement of Joyce’s friend and publisher Sylvia Beach. “How beautiful the ‘Anna Livia’ recording is,” wrote Beach in her memoir, Shakespeare and Company, “and how amusing Joyce’s rendering of an Irish washerwoman’s brogue!”

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Comments (9)
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  • louis says:

    look i told you everything ! if you understand or don’t understand you can not say i have not told you all the telling of the tail. Look the dust is growing, my back my back…Wow an awesome open to this awesome story !

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  • dora goldemberg says:

    I can´t believe it! I´m listening to Joyce´s brogue!
    it´s a dream!

    thank you!

  • dora goldemberg says:

    listening to Joyce´s brogue!


  • David Moore says:

    Wow, just wow…this recording took me by complete surprise…his accent is so provincial Irish…not at all Dublin…but charmingly Old Irish with all the influence of Druid, Viking and Anglo Norman and Gaelic charm invading his speech. For a minute I tough that ‘Maxheadroom’ had gatecrashed the gig and it took me a time to intune my ears, but let there be no doubt that Mr Joyce was no head banger… having copped a listen to him now as clear as day…he takes the biscuit as the God of stream of consciousness! Thanks for preserving and posting free for all to savour!

  • Maurice Judge says:

    Many after picked up the ball and ran with it,
    Spike,Zimmerman,Professor Stanley Unwin,John Lennon..
    But listen to this

  • Raoul Shade says:

    This treasure of literature, especially with James Joyce’s voice, must be preserved in granite, possibly stronger than the Liffey’s river stones, so that it may survive our rotten civilization for future aliens.

    As Stuart Gilbert explains in his monumental pioneer analysis of Ulysses, the two “garrulous old washerwomen, metamorphosed into a tree and a stone, are fixed in an ageless dream, beside the dark waters of the Anna Liffey.”

    Flaubert once wrote that he would have loved to write a book that deals with nothing, outside itself, self-supporting, through the interior strength of its style, just as the Earth sustains itself in the space, without support. I’m pretty sure that Flaubert would have loved Finnegan’s Wake.

  • Chris Joyce says:

    Is there a way to get rid of the annoyingly inaccurate sub-script? Every version on YouTube has the same problem.

  • Helena says:

    You will need to purchase a premium membership of YouTube to eliminate all the ads and imbedded sub-scripts. However, sometimes the sub-scripts are in fact subtitles and these can be turned off by going to the “settings” icon under every video.

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