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The pixillated doodler: Illustrating Finnegans Wake

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This article is adapted from John Vernon Lord’s lecture for IBIS (Imaginative Book Illustration Society), given on 7 May 2014 at the Art Workers’ Guild, Queen Square, London. John Lord explains in detail the process by which he illustrated the Folio Society’s 2014 edition of Finnegans Wake; the first time the book had been illustrated with the complete text. Finnegans Wake by James Joyce is an important work of twentieth century Modernist literature. Although it is complex and difficult to summarize, the article provides an insight into Lord’s intensive study of the text over a number of years and presents his interpretation of the main themes of the book. This is set within the context of Lord’s view of the function and purpose of illustration more generally. The process of illustration of Finnegans Wake is then revealed in detail. The Folio Society edition illustrations are presented alongside detailed descriptions of the process and thinking behind each one. Further insight into the process of illustration of Finnegans Wake is provided by a selection of John Vernon Lord’s sketchbooks, at the end of the article, in which he is seen progressively working through the themes of the text, as he develops the illustrations.
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Keywords: Finnegans Wake; James Joyce; illustration; interpretation; literature; process

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Illustrator

Publication date: 01 August 2016

More about this publication?
  • Illustration is a rapidly evolving field with an excitingly broad scope. Despite its cultural significance and rich history, illustration has rarely been subject to deep academic scrutiny. The Journal of Illustration provides an international forum for scholarly research and investigation of a range of cultural, political, philosophical, historical, and contemporary issues, in relation to illustration. The journal encourages new critical writing on illustration, associated visual communication, and the role of the illustrator as visualizer, thinker, and facilitator, within a wide variety of disciplines and professional contexts.

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