Recording Anna Livia Plurabelle


Joyce’s recording of the “Anna Livia Plurabelle” episode from Finnegans Wake was commissioned by the linguistic psychologist C. K. Ogden, who was translating the text into his invented language, called Basic English. The record drew attention in the press; it aired on the BBC and was sold at a prestigious London music store. T. S. Eliot used it as a cross-promotion for the publication of “Anna Livia Plurabelle” in his Criterion Miscellany pamphlet series. Due to the decline in Joyce’s eyesight, photographic enlargements of a printed edition were kept on hand in the recording studio. The letters were not big enough, however, and Ogden reportedly stood by Joyce, whispering into his ear the author’s own words.

James Joyce (1882–1941)
Anna Livia Plurabelle
78 rpm audio disc
Cambridge: Orthological Institute, [1929]
The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of Sean and Mary Kelly, 2018; PML 197873