Finnegans Wake: The Audiobook

So, as I mentioned in my Finnegans Wake review, I actually read/listened to/absorbed most of the book through an audiobook.

As it turns out, I was extremely fortunate to find that audiobook when I did, because just now when I went to find it again, I discovered that it's since been removed from that website (UbuWeb seems to be some kind of unlicensed content stockpile that looks super legit but isn't actually).

Anyway, the whole point of this post is that while I was looking for the audiobook, I found a blog post by some other poor sucker about how terrible it was. (From what I can tell, the Patrick Healey edition that I and this random blogger are talking about seems to be the only unabridged audiobook of Finnegans Wake in existence. And maybe you can buy it here for a hysterical sum of money?)

Random Blogger brings up a couple of points that I wanted to address, in case you happen to want to seek out this audiobook for some insane reason, mainly because I had the actual paper book handy while I was listening to the audiobook, and I think that gave me a slightly different perspective from Random Blogger's.

Healey takes a book that needs, nay, DEMANDS a slow, careful reading, and speeds through it like he only has a day to finish.

This is absolutely true. As much as I hated every second of Finnegans Wake, read or listened to, and wanted it to be over as soon as possible, it's pretty clear to me that the book requires a slow and careful reading if you're going to get anything out of it at all, and each syllable needs careful enunciation. Whenever I picked up the paper version of the book to glance at while I listened to the audiobook, I was always dismayed to note that Healey was actually skipping syllables in his rush.

[H]e frequently stutters, trips up on words, and has to start over.

Although I think there are a few places in the recording where this happens and it's a real mistake, actually a lot of the stuttering and repetition is within the text itself. Healey does really trip up on some words, though, and it's kind of infuriating: if he's going to insist on this kind of frenetic reading pace, he should be able to maintain it.

Finally, he reads every goddamn sentence with nary a change in tone, and when he does change his tone, its into some mumbling, slow bullshit...

I disagree with this, but this is where my inexperience with audiobooks will show most. I thought that tone variations were pretty good considering the horrors of the material being read and, of course, the inexplicable speed of the reading.

To sum up: I feel like I need to state again that you should just never ever go anywhere near this book, in any form, if you don't have to, whatever I or anyone else may say about the quality of the recording of it. And that's pretty much it for this one.


  1. I was just listening to this audiobook and I totally agree. The pace is WAY too fast to get anything out of it. Sure, it is nice to hear the cadence and rhyme of the text, but he speaks at a rate that is much too hard to follow.

    It is nice having a free audio version out there though. Thanks for the tip on where to find it.

  2. check it out... finnegans wake set to music unabridged:

    There is also an unabridged version by Patrick Horgon, created for the Royal Society of the Blind in Australia. You can find it if you poke around

    1. Hey, thanks for the comment. This looks like a really cool project!

  3. James Joyce reads a passage concerning the 2 women doing there laundry and his pace is just as fast as Patrick Healey, given the date 1939, I must conclude that he is following the pace of the author.