Have you read/heard of a story about an Irish man travelling in Tibet who gets buried according to Finnegan's Wake?
November 20, 2006 11:45 AM   Subscribe

A story has come to me through the telephone game that is society that has piqued my interest. Does anyone have a source for the following story, which I presume is fictional: An Irish man dies while travelling in Tibet, and the only piece of literature they have about Ireland and Irish funeral customs is Finnegan's Wake.
posted by Kattullus to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Oh god, I'm sure this isn't true, but it's such a beautiful idea!
posted by OmieWise at 12:28 PM on November 20, 2006


Do they have the song, or the book? I could imagine a good time resulting if they had the song, but I don't know what they'd do with the book.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:47 PM on November 20, 2006


I remember reading it in one of Leo Rosten's books (Giant Book of Laughter, maybe?). If memory serves, he treats it as apocryphal.
posted by box at 12:56 PM on November 20, 2006 [1 favorite]


I've heard the story, though in my version it was Japan (I think). I seem to remember it being in a Tom Robbins book? Or somehow related? Cursory googling provides no connections, however.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:57 PM on November 20, 2006


Argh, I know this, too, but I seem to remember seeing it in a movie rather than reading it. I have read a few Tom Robbins books, though, so I'm not saying that wemayfreeze is incorrect.
posted by amarynth at 1:47 PM on November 20, 2006


This triggers a memory... I remember the story being of a man searching for Kathmandu, and dying somewhere out near Tibet. He was looking for spiritual enlightenment, I believe. That's all I can recall, though.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:48 PM on November 20, 2006


This sounds familiar. I know I read it somewhere. Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates by Tom Robbins mentions Finnegans Wake a lot but I tried to search inside the book on amazon and didn't find that. (it could be in a different Tom Robbins book, of course)

Although, even if it is in a Tom Robbins book, who knows if it started there?
posted by mustcatchmooseandsquirrel at 1:54 PM on November 20, 2006


Snopes doesn't have it. If we can't find the answer, you could try emailing them.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:07 PM on November 20, 2006


It's from a Tom Robbins book, I guarantee it.

I thought it was "Still Life with Woodpecker," but my mom, who named me after the main character of "Another Roadside Attraction" claims it's "Another Roadside..."

It's certainly one of his earlier books (that don't seem searchable on Amazon).

It's positively fiction and it's treated as a nice aside, rather than the main story. Finnegan's comes back in a less quirky role in "Fierce Invalids," but it's more the process of reading it.
posted by Gucky at 4:24 PM on November 20, 2006


Maybe it's just me, but most English-speaking person can't make head nor tail out of Finnegans Wake. What on earth were the Tibetans going to get out of it that could form a funeral service?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 4:32 PM on November 20, 2006


Maybe it's just me, but most English-speaking person can't make head nor tail out of Finnegans Wake. What on earth were the Tibetans going to get out of it that could form a funeral service?

That's Robbins' sense of humor.

Then again, I have a coworker who claims she's read it in Russian translation. I can't even imagine how one would translate it.
posted by Gucky at 4:41 PM on November 20, 2006


askmefi-- "Has Finnegan's Wake ever been translated? How?"
posted by haveanicesummer at 4:54 PM on November 20, 2006


Foundies!

Still-Life With Woodpecker, pg. 36, 1980, Bantam Books
(Toward the wind-down of the Second World War, an American flyer parachuted from his burning plane to land in an isolated village near Japan's Inland Sea. The villagers, devout Buddhists far removed from the hot arena of events and the Shinto/fascistic/industrial philosophies that had spawned the events, took in the broken pilot and nursed him. They kept him concealed and alive for several months, but eventually he died.

(Since Buddhists have reverence for all life, they also respect the proprieties of death. The villagers wished to award the dead foreigner his entitled burial, but the only funereal customs with which they were familiar were Buddhist, and those, of course, would have been inappropriate.
(Having packed the corpse in pond ice, they set out to make inquiries about Christian burial procedures, all very discreetly so as not to arouse the suspicion of the authorities. Their luck was small.

(At last, someone smuggled into the village a Japanese translation of an English language book that provided the information they sought. The book was called Finnegans Wake.
(Of you can picture those remote 1945 Japanese peasants earnestly trying to hold a drunken Irish wake, complicated by the experimental wordplay of James Joyce, you can picture the relationship between an author, his typewriter, and that reality to whose recreation he's obliged to apply the southpaw touch, even though he knows only too well the function Arabs and Hindus assign the left hand.)
There is the suggestion that this might be true, coming as it does in an interlude from the actual story. But there it is.
posted by wemayfreeze at 5:28 PM on November 20, 2006 [4 favorites]


Maybe it's just me, but most English-speaking person can't make head nor tail out of Finnegans Wake. What on earth were the Tibetans going to get out of it that could form a funeral service?

It's a little thing we humans like to call humor.

My dad mentioned this once and he is a Tom Robbins fan. I emailed him and when I hear back I will post the answer here.
posted by Falconetti at 5:35 PM on November 20, 2006


In the last para., Of should be If. And there should be that paragraph break in that one place.
posted by wemayfreeze at 5:55 PM on November 20, 2006


I favorited my post 'cause, dang, I'm good! I want my shine!
posted by wemayfreeze at 5:55 PM on November 21, 2006


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