Clifford Kaho Mak

The Joycean Re-imagining and Revolution of Heaven and Hell in Finnegans Wake

Joyce’s Wake is many things (understatement of the year): as a wake, it is an initiation and a journey into the world of eternal sleep and all the fabulous events therein, and as such, the Wake is a meditation upon Joyce’s vision of the afterlife. Joyce, however, was not the first to explore in art the idea of an afterlife; his admiration for Dante is well known, for example, and the latter’s own intricately-structured apocalyptic vision is appropriated and reinterpreted by Joyce in many of his works. I would like to tease out these sorts of appropriations as much as possible in order to see how Joyce subverts and transforms the “traditional” Christian vision in the Wake, examining both classical and medieval allusions, as well as wider literary tropes and structures.

Message to Sponsor

I have been interested in Joyce since high school, but only recently have I had the chance to study him in Berkeley. The Wake is not an easy book to read, let alone one to comprehend during the regular school year, with other classes and assignments tagging along quite heavily; SURF gives me the opportunity to devote a whole summer to Joyce without outside interference. Also, I have a chance now to orient myself within the larger, more frightening world of Joyce scholarship by exploring the multitude of resources in the library. (Joyce scholarship can get almost absurdly heated sometimes.) I hope to emerge from this summer with a stronger grasp of Joyce and to be able to funnel that into further studies over the next few years.
  • Major: Comparative Literature
  • Mentor: John Bishop, English