In 2003, Sebastian D. G. Knowles looked at himself in the mirror; he was the author of a study of James Joyce; he was Professor of English at Ohio State University (specializing in Joyce). He had attended dozens of Joyce conferences. But he had never read Finnegans Wake
. "Worse, I had never even tried to", Professor Knowles writes in the current James Joyce Quarterly
. Guilt-ridden, he decided to confess his failing in a song to be sung at the after-dinner entertainment at a Joyce conference in Miami:
Am I alone?And unobserved? I am.
Then let me own, I'm an academic sham.
My reading of the Wake's a fake.
Up to about page nine I'm fine.
But the idea of reading every word's absurd.
[...] Knowles rendition was met "with great applause". As fellow Joyceans congratulated him, however, he realized they thought he was teasing some other fraud. "You've got the type down exactly", one said. When he protested, "The song's about me", they laughed. "Very good!" The upshot was that he was made editor of the Florida Joyce Series.