Waiting for Wakenight

I’m not really a Joycean scholar (though I did once publish on Joyce, Anthony Burgess and counterpoint here) so it’s taken me this long to come across the suggestion (attributed by Finn Fordham to an unnamed critic, presumably Danis Rose) that in addition to a Bloomsday, there may be a Wakenight also.

According to the unnamed critic, the Wake takes place (in the same way Bloomsday does – in a fictional alternative history which lives on the page and in our minds) on the night of the 28th of March 1938.

It’s not an especially memorable date in actual history. A couple of weeks after the Anschluss, Hitler gave a speech in Berlin. For a further sense of the era, Westminster was debating both the cinematographs bill and a civil aviation bill.

This means, of course, that I was born on the 33rd such Wakenight, in the morning, just as the river Anna Livia Plurabelle ebbs into the sea, her father, and dies (only to be reborn again on page one of the book.)

I’m not sure how we’d celebrate Wakenight. I’m not sure Joyce entirely foresaw people strolling in Dublin each June dressed in boater hats and munching gorgonzola sandwiches either. So I guess it’s up to us to choose our own modern and secular rituals for our own post-religious deities.


My modest suggestion, in keeping with the source ballad, is that we all drink whiskey until we collapse as if dead. Who’s in?

Speaking of the ballad, let’s have a quick round of it now, courtesy of the inimitable Mark Wale:

The Grapes of Wolf

When it comes to lost works of literature, John Steinbeck’s unpublished werewolf mystery amounts to five words I never imagined I’d ever write in that order together.

Werewolves and Wildness: The Open Graves, Open Minds special issue of  Gothic Studies - Edinburgh University Press Blog

Okay, it perhaps might not carry the same cultural weight as rediscovering Aristotle’s volume on comedy, or Shakespeare’s Love’s Labours Won, or Gerard Manley Hopkins’ early poetry, or James Joyce’s lost stageplay.

But in terms of sheer unexpectedness, it’s on a par with hearing of the existence of Ernest Hemingway’s secret gay erotica, Franz Kafka’s rediscovered techno thriller, or Sylvia Plath’s long forgotten shopping and fucking chicklit.

Actually, it’s even less likely than all of those. But, we are assured, nevertheless, it exists.

Publish it now, dammit!