The Image of the Italian Language in "Finnegans Wake"
The image of the Italian language emerging from Joyce’s works is rougher than the smooth, polite and gentile one used in the opera and in the Dantean tradition, but mirrors the experience Joyce had with Italian during his stays in Trieste. Having studied languages at University College and being well-versed in French, Joyce had to get accustomed to the different registers of Italian that were in use in contemporary Trieste, where Italian was spoken in formal and literary settings, but everyday conversation in the family and on the streets was conducted in Triestine dialect. Disproving the traditional image of Italian – the language of love and poetry – Joyce shows, by drawing on the more lively sources of the language (the spoken one and dialect), the great sensibility of its creative, innovative potential. In "Finnegans Wake", readers can find some distortions due to overlappings between Italian and other Latin-based languages, along with irreverent quotations from the Roman Catholic liturgy, possibly aimed at creating comic effects, although they could also be considered a means used by the author to wider cultural intercourse. Sometimes, the presence of Italian is due to Joyce’s determination to bring forth plurilingual variations.
Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Serenella Zanotti, "The Image of the Italian Language in "Finnegans Wake" ", in: Prospero. Rivista di Letterature Straniere, Comparatistica e Studi Culturali, VII (2000), pp. 145-158