Peter O’Brien

Peter O’Brien took a class on James Joyce with Roland McHugh in Dublin in the late 1970s. He has been been butting his confined head against the expanding universe of Finnegans Wake since then.

He is part-way through a five-year project glossing and illustrating each of the text’s 628 pages. He will be displaying 21 pages of the project—pages 196 to 216, the “Anna Livia” chapter—at the conference. He will also be delivering a paper “ ‘come into the pictures’ (243.1): Drawing Upon Finnegans Wake,” at the conference.

Peter has published five books, including Introduction to Literature: British, American, Canadian (Harper & Row) and Cleopatra at the Breakfast Table: Why I Studied Latin With My Teenager and How I Discovered the Daughterland (Quattro). He attended Notre Dame (BA – third year spent in Dublin), McGill University (MA), and the Banff School of Fine Arts. His writings on art and literature have appeared in art catalogues and in The Globe and Mail, Montreal Gazette, National Post, University of Toronto Quarterly, Journal of Canadian Art History, C Magazine, Azure, and Descant.

As part of a related art project, he is collecting annotated / glossed / illustrated / altered pages of Finnegans Wake from others, with the intent being to eventually display the entire text. (He currently has pages from Roland McHugh and Michael Groden, among others.) If you would like to participate with a page or two from your copy of Finnegans Wake, Peter can be reached at

A few pages from his project on display at the 2017 conference: