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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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe Reads Joyce’s Ulysses at the Play­ground (1955)

James Joyce’s Ulysses: Down­load the Free Audio Book

Death Masks: From Dante to James Joyce and Friedrich Niet­zsche

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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 !

  • heufl84 says:

    Recent­ly I was REALLY low on mon­ey and debts were eat­ing me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decid­ed to make mon­ey.. on the inter­net. I went to sur­vey­money­mak­er dot net, and start­ed fill­ing in sur­veys for cash, and sure­ly I’ve been far more able to pay my bills!! I’m so glad, I did this!! With all the finan­cial stress these years, I real­ly hope all of you will give it a chance. — 955c

  • 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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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.