Chapter I.4

Rain is falling softly outside. HCE is sleeping. As so often in the Wake, there are two stories going on here at the same time. In one, HCE is entombed in the coffin that has been waiting for him like a foregone conclusion ever since the beginning of his trial, and is now buried under Lough Neagh. In another, he is still waiting out the torrent of abuse that his assailant outside the pub has been heaping on him “during that three and a hellofhours’ agony of silence” (75.17-18). (We recall that this went on “from eleven thirty to two in the afternoon without even a luncheonette interval” (70.33-34): the interval seems to have expanded to even more than the traditional three hours of Christ’s Agony on the Cross.)

75.01-76.09

The first paragraph asks what HCE might have been dreaming of during this time, and gives three possible answers, all of them hypothetical:

  • the two women who were his undoing, those “lililiths undeveiled” (75.05-06) who are thus still veiled (un-deveiled), in their undies (the stammer of “lililiths” reinforces the suspicion that there’s still a guilty pleasure to be claimed here), once more innocent (un-devilled, exorcized), and both Lilith and (buried in the second of the two words) Eve.
  • a more Edenic world despite the temptations of these Iseults. Those “fields of heat and yields of wheat where corngold Ysit? shamed and shone” (75.10-11) recall the passage Stephen Dedalus brought to mind on the beach in the “Proteus” episode of Ulysses: “whiteheaped corn, orient and immortal, standing from everlasting to everlasting” (U 3.43-44). As Gifford notes, that’s from Traherne’s lines, “The Corn was Orient and Immortal Wheat, which never should be reaped, nor was ever sown. I thought it had stood from everlasting to everlasting”. But this is simultaneously undermined by another less chaste echo, from Byron’s Don Juan: “The Isles of Greece, / The Isles of Greece, / Where burning Sappho loved and sung.”
  • a revenge, where “his wordwounder” gives rise to a dynasty that will become “a truly criminal stratum … thereby at last eliminating from all classes and masses” (76.06) the sort of opposition HCE has had to face, to the benefit of the entire society. (Dublin’s motto, “The citizens’ obedience is the city’s happiness,” gets another citation and reworking here.)

A wordwounder? One who wounds with words. But this time it will be his wordwounder, one who fights on HCE’s side, wounds HCE’s enemies with his words, and founds a dynasty of such fighters. Who else could it be but his son, Shem the Penman? And is there a quiet desperation here? After all, until now the sons have largely figured as usurpers of the father (in the Museyroom episode of I.1, for example: 8.09-10.23), or as stolen away from him by the wiles of the mother (in the Prankquean episode, 21.05-23.15). Now the sons are (or at least one of them is) being fondly imagined as the father’s salvation. There’s a hint that this discrepancy hasn’t gone unnoticed even as it’s being wished for: the name this passage gives to that “wordwounder” son is “Nash of Girahash” (75.20), and as McHugh notes, the Hebrew word nahash means “snake.” (And to add to the identification of Shem and Joyce that runs throughout the book, Hebrew also gives us hasha, silence, gur, exile, and nasha, cunning.)

As this chapter continues, it will replay stories that are familiar from the previous one, but now with a different set of emphases overlaying them. If the distinction between HCE and his assailants has become thoroughly blurred so that we can no longer tell offender from defender, when these stories are replayed it will now be as a series of running dissensions between the warring brothers. The dream of a dynasty to protect the father’s name will quickly dissolve in squabbles.

76.10-32

Good. Now (we’re enjoined) let’s leave theories and get back to the here and now. Back to the coffin, which as we remember is also anything that functions as a container for HCE: the literal box, the pub in which he’s trapped by a relentless assailant, the letter that promises to contain the truth about him, Finnegans Wake itself. The next three paragraphs will concern themselves with the coffin, its capacity for containment, the burial site, and, as the song “Finnegan’s Wake” suggests, the failure of all of that containment. The burial plot by Lough Neagh is a gift of the citizens, a bucolic idyll “enriched with ancient woods and dear dutchy deeplins” (76.25-26). Though it may be far from dear dirty Dublin, the locals are already suspiciously like the couple we know: “an old knoll” (a small hill, with “Old Nol” also a term for the despised Cromwell) and “a troutbeck,” or trout stream (76.26) who is clearly foreshadowing the Anna Livia of I.8 (especially 202.35-204.20, and 216.04-05):

vainyvain of her osiery and a chatty sally with any Wilt or Walt who would ongle her as Izaak did to the tickle of his rod and watch her waters of her sillying waters of and their now brown peater arripple. (76.26-30)

76.33-77.28

If the previous paragraph declared it good to get back to the concreteness of the here and now, this paragraph goes further: “Best.” Now we have technical details of the construction of the coffin and the grave that is to hold it. This has involved explosives, bombs, TNT and an “aerial thorpeto” (77.07), and the tomb is made from ferroconcrete and lined with “rotproof bricks and mortar” (77.17-18). We recall Finnegan’s awakening in the final pages of I.1 (24.15-), and the funeral-goers’ anxious need to restrain him, to reassure him he’s no longer needed and can “be aisy” (24.16) as his successor is already on his way. The aim seems to be to make any escape impossible this time, as the commemorative stone that the grateful “councils public”(77.21) present to the builder says: “We have done ours gohellt with you, Heer Herewhippit, overgiven it, skidoo!” (77.26-27).

What is to follow is to be the time of the sons rather than the father, but the opening paragraphs of this chapter have already blurred that boundary between generations. The sons are already replaying the father’s history in their own actions. The warring between the brothers (Shaun12 vs Shem12), and even their uniting to depose the father ( ShemShaun12 vs HCE12, leaving us with HCERev12),  is thus not so much a radical end to the father’s rule, but something that is internal to and indistinguishable from the rule of the father, even the very way in which the rule of the father consolidates and perpetuates itself.

So the “architecht” of HCE’s burial-place, “Mgr Peurlachasse” (76.36, who is thus a hunter of fear who also takes his name from another cemetery, Père Lachaise in Paris) is also “our misterbilder” (77.03) Finnegan, whom we earlier saw building his own “hierarchitectitiptitoploftical” Tower of Babel. The tomb is an upside-down version of this, “an inversion of a phallopharos” (76.34), and its “contractors Messrs T. A. Birkett and L. O. Tuohalls” (77.02) are the Thomas A’Beckett and Laurence O’Toole of the earlier version, those “larrons o’toolers clittering up and tombles a’buckets clottering down” (05.03-04). The extra h in that word “architecht” brings together in sequence the letters of the trigram that are also scattered around it: “its architecht, Mgr Peurlachasse” (ALP’s in there as well). The massive work of construction done, its architect has “retired beneath the heptarchy of his towerettes, the beauchamp, byward, bull and lion, the white, the wardrobe and bloodied” (77.18-20). As McHugh points out in his annotations, these are the seven towers that make up the Tower of London, the Beauchamp, Byward, Bell, Lion, White, Wardrobe and Bloody Towers, so we have here another version of the seven accoutrements that so often characterize HCE (where clothing and buildings are alike figures of FW12, of what contains HCE12). HCE deposes HCE, puts HCE to death, buries HCE.

77.29-78.06

HCE’s tomb is full of funerary acoutrements, including food for the afterlife and everything to ensure that a sleep for thousands of years (“hypnos chilia eonion!”, 78.03-04) will be as luxurious as possible. Here we catch a glimpse of that inert giant form of the sleeper we saw on the opening page of the book, laid out “from grosskopp to megapod” (78.05).

78.07-14

But there will, of course, be a rise after this fall, when the sleeper wakes to “revisit our Uppercrust Sideria” (78.10-11). In preparation for “Zeit’s sumonserving” (78.07), all sorts of things seem to be happening underground, “proliferat[ing] through all his Unterwealth,” with “the hoarder hidden propaguting his plutorpopular progenium” (78/09-10, 11-12).

78.15-79.13

HCE (“Foughtarundser,” from the German Vater unser, our father) has been persuaded by ALP (“Breedabrooda”) to allow himself to be “septuply buried” (78.16, 17, 18), but within three months there would seem to be a stirring. Foughtarundser is clearly still fighting around, even underground: his rising is a spring offensive, like the Battle of Quebec (fought on the heights of Abraham, 78.15), and is accompanied by a marching song (“Tramp, Tramp, Tramp, the Boys are Marching”) that has become a drinking song (“ramp, ramp, ramp, the boys are parching,” 78.21-22). We are back to another version of Tim Finnegan’s revival, as we first heard it in Chapter 1. As then, this revival too may “have come about all quite by accidence” (78.15-16) as liquor is spilt onto the corpse. A flood is freed (78.23): there are “spuitwyne pledges” (from the Dutch spuitwijn, sparkling wine, 78.20), and “the druiven [Dutch for grapes] were muskating at the door” (78.24-25), in a “ferment” (78.27) that is also the earlier hubbub at the funeral and a series of military offences and defences as forces gather from all over. There are glimpses and rumours of the risen HCE, who, though he had a legendary appetite in his prime, must have been living on his own fat—his hump—all this time (79.11-13).

79.14-26

This paragraph and the next recall the city of old, as glimpsed earlier in the prehistoric visions of Chapter 1 (for example, pages 18-21). It’s a fond, rosy-tinted fantasy of a more innocently libidinous time, when “Venuses we gigglibly temptatrix, vulcans guffawably eruptious and the whole wives’ world frockful of fickles” (79.18-19). The repeated “(Tip!)”, “(Tiptip!”) and “(Tiptiptip!)” (79.23, 27, 34) take us back to the Museyroom episode (8.09-10.23), where they punctuated the guided tour of the battlefield of history we were being given by Kate, who is both the old woman who cleans the Earwicker pub and an older version of ALP. The “tapette and tape petter and take pettest of all” (79.23) also recalls the three soldiers of the Coldstream Guards we heard interviewed about HCE in the previous chapter (“Tap and pat and tapatagain,” 58.23), and thus the witnesses of whatever it was that happened in Phoenix Park. But now, it’s a world where such actions have no consequences, and take place everywhere, “everyhe to her taste” (79.22): “Arbour, bucketroom, caravan, ditch? Coach, carriage, wheelbarrow, dungcart?” (79.25-26). (The invocation of the rhythm of  “Rich man, poor man, beggarman, thief,” suggests the use the nurseryrhyme has: it’s a way of making a random choice among equal possibilities.)

79.27-80.19

The beginning of this paragraph confirms that we’re in Kate’s presence, ALP as HCE’s widow scavenging once again through the rubbish-heaps—the tips—of history. She is giving testimony about those far-off days when “the plaintiff was struck” (80.04): HCE might be long since dead and buried, but the trial seems never to have ceased: we shall hear more of it in a few paragraphs’ time. Rumour and the question of whatever it might have been that happened in the park are rising to the surface again, just as the giant himself is “proliferat[ing] through all his Unterwealth” (78.09-10). The rubbish heap, “old dumplan as she nosed it” (79.28-29), is once more that “allaphbed” we were earlier enjoined to read (18.18), as if its “fossil footprints, bootmarks, fingersigns, elbowdints, breechbowls, a. s. o. were all successively traced of a most envolving description” (80.10-12). We recall Stephen on the beach in “Proteus,” surrounded at low tide by the detritus of Dublin: “Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack” (U  3.02-03). What better place to hide a book (Irish leabhar, 80.14) or a loveletter, here, in plain sight, where everything begins and ends? The only problem is to find it, to exhume that “last cradle of hume sweet hume” (80.17-18) to find the letter that will at last exonerate HCE. The paragraph ends with an ambiguous injunction: “Give it over! And no more of it! So pass the pick for child sake! O men!” (80.18-19). It’s a prayer that we may be given the letter, so that we may hear no more of the accusations that have dogged us throughout the book; we double our efforts (pass me the pick and let me dig), for our children’s sake. But it’s also, and in the same words, a weary and exasperated plea to give it all up, to hear no more of this quest itself, to pass up the pick.

80.20-36

Now we hear the voice of the “Allhighest” himself (80.20), so we should read this as the equivalent of one of those Viconian thunderclaps that instigate a new order. The voice is both that of the one to whom the prayer to Give it over was addressed and (of course) HCE, who is after all an interested party in all this. We hear two different utterances.

The first is a repetition of the prayer itself, which seems to throw it back to those who prayed: “as it was let it be, says he!” How do we read it? Is it Things will now or in the future be as they have been in the past, or perhaps Let things be now as they were in the past? But which past would that be? Is it the past in which HCE has been hounded into his grave? (But that’s precisely why the letter and its exoneration now seem so urgent.) Is it that sexual pastoral of perpetual libidinal innocence we glimpsed a couple of paragraphs ago? Is it this “claybook” or allaphbed that we are peering into as we read, and in which all things are (yet) to be read? Or is that Let it be simply to be read in the sense of Leave it alone, give it a break, drop it?

The second thing we hear this voice of the Allhighest say is the words of the scolding father to his naughty children, or the publican to his employees, and they seem to bear out the second version of that Let it be:

Posidonius O’Fluctuary! Lave that bloody stone as it is! What are you doing your dirty minx and his big treeblock way up your path? Slip around, you, by the rare of the ministers’! And you, take that barrel back where you got it, MacShane’s, and go the way your old one went, Hatchettsbury Road! (80.28-33)

The display of paternal power certainly seems to have impressed Issy and her schoolmates, who “gushed away, the pennyfares, a whole school for scamper, with their sashes flying sish behind them, all the little pirlypettes!” (80.34-36).

81.01-11

Here we have the road of history (the viconal or common way), invisible in its patterns but invincible for all that. The mausoleum that has been described a couple of paragraphs back is now behind us, and we’re travelling “per omnibus secular seekalarum” (81.07-08): for ever and ever, on a very secular route where “a hungried thousand of the unemancipated slaved the way” (81.04), always on the lookout for those alarums and incursions that have marked the rising of HCE (78.24 ff). It’s a bus trip we’re all on together (that “omnibus”), but it’s also a trip in a tram (“tramestrack,” 81.07, with its echoes of German Traum, dream, and Strecke, track; McHugh suggests that the “Issy-la-Chapelle! Any lucans, please?” that  ended the last paragraph is also a call for fares on the Chapelizod–Lucan line, continued in this paragraph by the call that we’re now in the centre of town: “So more boher O’Connell!” 81.09, from the Irish Seo mórbhothar Uí Chonaill), a carriage (“the past has made us this present of a rhedarhoad,” 81.08-09, with the Latin rhaeda for carriage), a hackney coach (“Fiacre” 81.11).

“Fluminian!” (81.03). We’re on the Flaminian Way here, the ancient Roman road through the Apennines and the scene of many a battle. But this is also flumineus, a river, so we have both HCE the warring father and ALP here, as the trigrams that have immediately preceded the word suggest: “And we are not trespassing on his corns either. Look at all the plotsch!” (81.01-02).  We have a landscape of the detritus of history, across which a road that is also a river winds: this “claybook,” the one in our hands, that is also an “allaphbed,” the bed of a river (18.17-18), that we are reading, or attempting to read, looking at all the plotsch (German platschen, to splash) left in its wake.

81.12-84.27

This is a huge paragraph, and Rose and O’Hanlon’s edition splits it into no less than nine smaller paragraphs, according to the occurrences of direct speech within it. It gives us another version of the encounter with the Cad from chapter I.2 (35.01-36.34). As in previous retellings, the differences between the personages are not quite clear, and they blur into one another. This time, though, the two parties will in retrospect come to look more like the warring brothers, Shaun12 and Shem12.

All of this takes place “hard by the howe’s there” (81.12)—by the Howe, the site of the Viking Thingmote assembly and thus both at the very heart of lawful society, and by the house, the public house of which HCE is landlord, where we are also “versts and versts from true civilisation” (81.15). But it’s no longer quite a matter of HCE: it doesn’t happen where the roads and tramlines of the previous paragraph stop, atop Beinn Éadair, Howth, but where the river meets the sea: “not where his dreams top their traums halt (Beneathere! Benathere!) but where livland yontide meared with the wilde, saltlea with flood” (81.16-18). There, perhaps mistaking him for someone else (everyone in the Wake gets mistaken for someone else), the “attackler … engaged the Adversary” (81.18-20) by “making use of sacrilegious languages to the defect that he would challenge their hemosphores to exterminate them but he would cannonise the b—y b—r’s life out of him and lay him out as smart as the b—r had his b—y nightprayers said” (81.24-28). The trigram recalls HCE, but the abuse continues the indignities the supposed Herr Betreffender offered HCE in the previous chapter (70.21-72.16), as “The boarder incident prerepeated itself” (81.32-33). Perhaps, at one remove, it even echoes the abuse offered Stephen by the two British soldiers in “Circe,” and thus recalls (well, by a commodius vicus of recirculation) the witnesses of HCE’s indiscretion in the Park. The pair are also Napoleon and Wellington from the earlier Museyroom episode (now reworked into the Sino-Japanese War), Buckley and the Russian General  (337.04-354.36), even the tailor and the Norse captain (311.05-332.09): who can tell? Alcohol no doubt has a part in it, again (82.06-09).

After a “pause for refleshmeant” (82.10), they (“or a different and younger him of the same ham,” 82.11, because they are, after all, refleshed) set to it again. It’s in part a question of money, of some £6/15/- one borrowed or took from the other some months ago (“Was sixvictolios fifteen pigeon takee offa you, tell me he, stlongfella, by picky-pocky ten to foul months behindaside?”, 82.12-14). They seem now to be the two brothers vying, as so often (see the children’s games in II.1, or the tale of the Mookse and the Gripes in I.6, 152,04-159.23), for the attention of their younger sister Issy, cloud-daughter of their mother the river: “(did the imnage of Girl Cloud Pensive flout above them light young charm, in ribbons and pigtail?)” (82.19-21). In particular, the borrowing of money suggests the Joyce brothers, and James’s endless requests to Stanislaus. As in previous versions, there’s a gun involved: the intruder drops a pistol (a Webley, 82.16). At this point, perhaps because he’s displayed the threat behind his request, he becomes jokingly friendly, and says that if the other has “the loots change of a tenpound crickler about him” he will “pay him back the six vics odd” (82.25-27) owed from last June or July. The other, no doubt made nervous by that nonchalant Webley and knowing that this is all a roundabout way of exacting more money, replies with a familiar stammer: “Woowoo would you be grossly surprised … to learn that … I honestly have not such thing as the loo, as the least chance of a tinpanned crackler anywhere about me at the present mohomoment…” (82.31-35)—but he could “advance you something like four and sevenpence” (83.01-02) to buy some Jameson’s with.

The gunman seems to be taken aback by this readiness, and swears to pay him back, already foretasting the oysters he’ll be able to eat and the whiskey to wash them down with on the pub crawl ahead of him. After a final and belligerently physical exhortation of the other’s generosity, he takes his leave with an embrace “as practised between brothers of the same breast” (83.33), triumphantly bearing what’s now “seven and four in danegeld” (84.04). The other takes his wounds to the nearest watchhouse, though fortunately he has no broken bones to show for the altercation.

[A parenthesis. This is the promise to pay back the debt, with a few intervening phrases and clauses omitted:

the starving gunman … became strangely calm and forthright sware … that … he would go good to him suntime marx my word fort, for a chip off the old Flint, (in the Nichtian glossery which purveys aposteriorious tongues that is nat language at any sinse of the world and one might as fairly go and kish his sprogues as fail to certify whether the wartrophy eluded at some lives earlier was that somethink like a jug, to what, a coctable)  … (83.06-15)

I’m interested in that long parenthesis here. The second part of it we can relatively easily gloss as a suggestion that the previous debt, loan, robbery or trophy almost certainly went the way this one will: on drink  and foodstuffs (coctable means “able to be cooked,” though it may well also be an echo of the final words of Sterne’s Tristram Shandy: “A COCK and a BULL, said Yorick——And one of the best, I ever heard”). The first part is a bit more complex, though. McHugh refers it back to the 1928 book,  An International Language, by the Danish linguist Otto Jespersen, who was involved in not just one but three attempts to found an artificial international language. In this case, it’s Novial, for which he would publish a dictionary in 1930, Novial Lexike. Here, McHugh suggests, he’s quoting the English linguist Henry Sweet, whose work on the phonetics of European languages would lay some of the necessary groundwork for Novial:

 the ideal way of constructing an a posteriori language would be to make the root words monosyllabic … and to make the grammar a priori in spirit. (qtd. McHugh 83)

In short, the best way to construct an artificial language is to have monosyllabic root words and a grammar that is based on that of an existing language or languages. Should we be thinking of this as a description of the language of Finnegans Wake? For all its punning in some 60 or so languages, its grammar is essentially English, and it’s this that gives it its constant hints at legibility. Even when (as so often) the words we are reading are so unfamiliar and obscure, and even though the syntax can so often be convoluted into clause-within-clause-within-clause, we can feel, as readers of English, that  what we are reading is still essentially an English sentence, and able to be parsed as such. Indeed, this is sometimes the only way to make sense of the sentences: strip them of their subsidiary clauses and multiple parentheses, and then, bit by bit, reintroduce them to reconstruct the full sentence. In doing that, we are retracing Joyce’s own compositional methods: as David Hayman’s A First-Draft Version of Finnegans Wake shows, the earlier drafts are often relatively simple sentences that will then be overlaid and overtroped many times.

So, a Wake grammar that is a priori in spirit. What about those monosyllabic root words? Here in this “Nichtian glossery” the gunman’s words are “nat language at any sinse of the world” (83.10-12). Nat language: both night language and not language, a night language that is not really language. As many commentators have pointed out (most thoroughly John Bishop, in Joyce’s Book of the Dark), the Wake is built around the constant withdrawals and contradictions of the negative. We find that from very first page of the book, with its listing of what has not yet happened, and the empty head of the sleeper whose “humptyhillhead of humself promptly sends an unquiring one well to the west” (3.20-21). (It’s a fitting term for the Wake itself: an unquiry.) We find it tied into contradiction or paradox, as we’ve seen: “Thus the unfacts, did we possess them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude, the evidencegivers by legpoll too untrustworthily irreperible” (57.16-18). The not language, the language of a thoroughgoing not, introduces the potential of a radical and quite irreducible doubt into the heart of any statement. It’s the doubt at the heart of the Cartesian cogito, but without the resolution: the only thing I cannot doubt is not just an empty I think free of any potentially deceiving content put there to fool me by some evil spirit. It’s an I think that is now structured by the relentless switching of the negative, the Cretan liar paradox that is the knot of the not at its heart, its monosyllabic root word. The language of the Wake, then, is this “Nichtian glossery,” and the very utterance performs the irreducible contradiction this involves: if it is “nat language in any sinse of the world” (83.12), it is both the language of not in any sense we may care to take it—and not at all, in any sense, language. And this contradiction, furthermore, is the root of that obscure sin, Fall and guilt that runs insistently everywhere in the Wake, for “this is nat language in any sinse of the world” (83.12).]

84.28-85.19

We were earlier told that all this took place “where livland yontide meared with the wilde, saltlea with flood” (81.17-18), and now we leave that scene to head upstream “backtowards motherwaters so many miles from bank and Dublin stone” (84.30-31), in search of answers. Whatever minor infractions he may have committed, HCE, that “thuddysickened Hamlaugh” (84.32-33) who turned up battered and bleeding at the watchhouse, was simply exercising “the first of the primary and imprescriptible liberties of the pacific subject by circulating … alongst one of our umphrohibited semitary thrufahrts”  when he was “mistakenly ambushed” in the park by the heckler with the gun (85.06-09, 03). Alternatively, and just as lawfully, he may have been just on the brink of taking his seat on a public bench somewhere by Butt’s Bridge in the east, without any intent to annoy anyone (85.12-19). (Can we see this as protesting too much? We’re not quite sure just what happened or where it all took place, but we can be sure that whatever it was he would have to be innocent.)

85.20-86.31

Just as the previous replay of HCE’s encounter with the Cad had started to dissolve into the battle between the brothers, now we have a trial in which the two principals are versions of Shaun12 and  Shem12. Just when it looked as if the crime would never be solved, one Festy King—”a child of Maam” or ALP, and from “a family long and honourably associated with the tar and feather industries” (85.23-24)—was hauled up at the Old Bailey. The indictment  is “incompatibly framed” from “equinoxious points of view” (85.27-28), which is surely a precise example of that “nat language” and its relation to the “sinse of the world” (83.12). This is Shem, Shem12, “soaked in methylated” and “appatently ambrosiaurealised” (85.31-32), with an aura of alcohol about him. He is also Kersse, whom we shall encounter in II.2 in the story of the tailor and the Norwegian captain (“Kersse’s Korduroy Karikature,” 85.33). His seven articles of apparel also mark him as a version of his father, HCE, for he is “wearing, besides stains, rents and patches, his fight shirt, straw braces, souwester and a policeman’s corkscrew trowswers” (85.33-35). Drawing on all the flowers of Irish oratory, he explains that he was drenched in the rain and then left in this disarray in jail (“in the mamertime,” 85.35: the Mamertime was the medieval Roman prison) after his three-piece suit quite unaccountably fell off him when he tore his clothes up (his “bespokes,” 85.35)  and set fire to them in an attempt to keep warm.

The prosecution, in the form of P. C. Robort (and hence doubly a bobby), attempts to show that King, alias Crowbar, tried to impersonate a chimney sweep by rubbing peat over his face. In this disguise, and not very cleverly calling himself Tykingfest and Rabworc, he took a pig to a pig fair organised by “the Irish Angricultural and Prepostoral Ouraganisations, to help the Irish muck to look his brother dane in the face” (86.20-22) (Irish muc is “pig,” and this is all about the competition to Irish bacon from Denmark). He sold the pig (“the gentleman who pays the rent,” 85.27), “in order to pay off … six doubloons fifteen arrears of his, the villain’s” (86.29-30)—the £6/15/- debt from a few pages back (82.12-13).

86.32-90.34

An eye witness—Shaun, or Shaun12—is called to the stand. Not just an eye witness, he’s an eye, ear, nose and throat witness (86.32-33), which would make him a version of Oliver St John Gogarty, the original of Ulysses‘ Malachi Mulligan, the Shaun to Stephen’s Shem. Like Mulligan, he’s a sexual braggart with a strong sense of his own social position: “having been sullenly cautioned against yawning while being grilled, [he] smiled (he had had a onebumper at parting from Mrs Molroe in the morning) and stated to his eliciter … that he slept with a bonafides” (86.36-87.03).

So, the witness is Shaun, Shaun12, and the accused is Shem, Shem12. Campbell and Robinson’s Skeleton Key reverses this, but they surely have to be wrong here: in a few paragraphs’ time, the witness will be clearly identified as “Show’m the Posed” and the accused as “Shun the Punman” (92.13, 93.13). Nevertheless, there are some things about the witness that do point in the other direction:

  • He may be a bit of a double agent: “Wesleyan chapelgoers suspected [him] of being a plain clothes priest W.P.” (86.33-34).  As McHugh says, a W.P. is a warming pan, the flippant  term for a locum tenens: not only a stand-in, but possibly an infiltrator. The identities of the two brothers, after all, often blur into each other, and we have just been told that Festy King—Shem, or Shem12, against whom he is giving evidence—was also “once known as Meleky” (86.08).
  • There’s an obscure but persistent connection with excrement and disease in this Shaun-personage’s introduction—both of which are frequently associated with Shem, and particularly in I.7.

Wesleyan chapelgoers suspected [him] of being a plain clothes priest W.P., situate at Nullnull, Medical Square, who, upon letting down his rice and peacegreen coverdisk, … smiled” (86.33-87.01).

“W.P.” echoes the WC of “Wesleyan chapelgoers,” and replaces the container (the water closet) with the contained (P). A “square” is the slang term for a public latrine, which would often be indicated by a 00 (null null) sign. This water closet has a pissgreen seat, and rice-water, according to the OED, was a descriptive term used in nineteenth-century medicine to describe the evacuations of cholera patients.

Which brother is which? The accused seems to be giving evidence against himself, undermining himself, much as the brothers’ father was always giving himself away in the very words he meant to establish his innocence. The splitting seems to be an attempt at dissociation, sloughing off all of the sinful, unattractive, despicable things the father has been accused of onto the reprobate Shem. But it never seems to be a process that goes far enough, or ever could. What it leaves is a Shaun who may be attractive, charismatic, righteous and well-connected, but he’s also a smug and self-satisfied lecher. The attempt at a sort of disavowal doesn’t seem to solve the problem so much as reproduce it at one remove, in another generation.

The ambiguity is doubled in the witness’s evidence. He tells of how one night (perhaps in the company of two friends, “Sam, him and Moffat,” or Shem, Ham and Japhet, 87.10) he “was patrified to see, hear, taste and smell” (87.11-12: he is, after all, an eye, ear, nose and throat witness) one Hyacinth O’Donnell, BA, attacking two other men, between whom there had always been bad blood. It’s another version of the father’s disgrace in Phoenix Park. The three combatants (and there may be three observers as well) are the three soldiers of the earlier tale, and collectively ShemShaun12(that is, the two quarrelling sons plus their common cause, the struggle against the father). Hyacinth O’Donnell would thus appear to be not only the accused Shem, but the father against whom two sons are struggling. The others are “another two of the old kings, Gush Mac Gale and Roaring O’Crian, Jr., both changelings” (87.17-18): the “Mac” and “Jr.” indicate their status as sons, and that they are changelings brings to mind what Freud calls the “family romance,” that fantasy of disavowal in which the child imagines he or she is really not the child of the apparent parents, with all their faults and pettinesses, but instead, royal by right and the victim of a magical substitution.  The combatants were egged on by their women supporters (another echo of the Phoenix Park episode), and at this point there is a similar hubbub in the courtroom.

The “crossexanimation” (87.34) establishes that where and when this “treepartied ambush” (87.35) took place, “there was not as much light from the widowed moon as would dim a child’s altar” (88.02-05): how are we to believe any eye- (or for that matter ear-, nose- and throat-) witness? Everything that follows in the rest of this very long paragraph will be a series of questions to the witness, beginning with the question of his reliability—whether he is “one of those lucky cocks for whom the audible-visible-gnosible-edible world existed” (87.05-07)—and his answer that:

he was only too cognitively conatively cogitabundantly sure of it because, living, loving, breathing and sleeping morphomelosophopancreates, as he most significantly did, whenever he thought he heard he saw he felt he made a bell clipperclipperclipperclipper. (85.07-11)

That “morphomelosophopancreates” unpacks as something like  “the creative musical , wise and all-powerful form of sleep,” which may be a good description of the book we are reading, but is unlikely to be reassuring in a court of law—except, of course, a court of law in this book. All we have is the witness’s assurance that he is sure of it, because it all rings a bell for him. The question needs three more variations, as though repeated asseverations will have to stand in for confidence. (For ease, I’ll split the rest of these into Q and A.)

Whether he was practically sure too of his lugs and truies names in this king and blouseman business?
That he was pediculously so.
Certified?
As cad could be.
Be lying!
Be the lonee I will. (88.11-14)

The last of these exchanges is simultaneously an accusation that the witness is lying (followed by his denial), and an invitation to him to lie (followed by his assurance that he will).

The accused is identified as “Morbus O’Somebody,” a sick or dead son of somebody (88.14), and then by an eighteen-part full name that is an anagram of HERE COMES EVERYBODY (88.21-23) . The familiar accusation of “evesdripping” (89.01) is raised again (spying on women, but now also with the drip of the rain that continues outside), but as it’s still not easy to tell the accuser from the accused, doubts multiply and return:

Two dreamyums in one dromium?
Yes and no error.
And both as like as a duel of lentils?
Peacisely. (88.03-14)

That “Yes and no error” is both the definitive assertion of “Yes, and no error,” and the vacillation of “Yes-and-no error.” The two parties are like the two brothers Hilary and Tristopher, subjects of the Prankquean’s riddle, “why do I am alook alike a poss of porterpease” (21.18-19), twins not to be told apart:

And Camellus thus said to Gemellus: I should know you?
Parfaitly.
And Gemellus then said to Camellus: Yes, your brother?
Obsolutely. (90.18-20)

The cross-examination ends with a thunderword, the fourth, this time a storm of invective aimed at women:

Bladyughfoulmoecklenburgwhurawhorascortastrumpapornanennykocksapastippatappatupperstrippuckputtanach, eh?
You have it alright. (90.30-33)

The cross-examiner offers the vituperation for the witness’s approval, and gets it. Whatever happened in the Phoenix Park, and whoever it was who was involved in it, the men agree: it’s all the fault of the women anyway.

90.34-92.05

Shite and onions! The defendant retorts, swearing his innocence at length to the four courts (King’s, Common Pleas, Exchequeur and Chancery: 91.07, 19, 30, 31) and the four judges. The audience breaks into jeers and catcalls, and the witness we have just heard discreetly joins in, perhaps under the influence of alcohol, and “reluctingly, but with ever so ladylike indecorum” (92.04-05).

92.06-92.32

The opening sentence to this paragraph combines many of the pairings we’ve had so far in this trial scene (Tindall’s Reader’s Guide is helpful here, though I differ from his identification of the van Hoother brothers):

  • — Hilary (“hilariohoot,”92.06), or Shaun
    — Tristopher (“tristitone,” 92.07), or Shem
  • — Pegger’s Windup (92.06) is Earwicker, Pegger Festy from 91.01, Jarl van Hoother who “was to git the wind up” after his altercation with the Prankquean (23.14), more distantly Wellington, who was to “git the band up” when tempted by the jinnies in the Museyroom episode (8.34), and the Chimpden whose “unlimited company” “sheriff Clancy’ll be winding up” in “The Ballad of Persse O’Reilly” (46.07). As he is also the witness whose testimony has just wound up the hearing, he also blurs into Shaun.
    — Wet Pinter (92.07) is a West Pointer or cadet or Cad, and a wet pinter is a drunk, so here again we have Shem.

The battle between the father (HCE12)and an usurper (ShemShaun12) is now quite thoroughly merged into the battle between the two brothers, Shem12and Shaun12.  That battle, as we shall see in later chapters (particularly II.1, II,2 and III.2), is also over the affections of the sister Issy, IssyRev12, who is often seen in the company of 28 or 29 of her schoolfriends, Rainbow12. Here the 28 women in the courtroom flutter and flatter around the eye-ear-nose-and-throat witness, “Show’m the Posed” (92.13), who wins the heart of one “lovelooking leapgirl” in particular (92.25).

92.33-93.21

The four judges, Mamalujo12 (“Uncius, Muncius, Punchus and Pylax,” 92.35-36), confer and give a verdict that could really only be described as noncommittal: “Nolans Brumans” (93.01), which combines the Latin nolens volens (willing or unwilling), with the burnt heretic Bruno of Nola, and, as if to emphasise the lack of clarity, a French fog (brume). The defendent leaves the court a free man, accompanied by execrations from the women (“Shun the Punman!” 92.13), who chase him back to the hovel where he lives (a closer view of which we shall have in I.7).

93.22-94.22

And so it all ended. But there would still seem to be doubts. Kate, the older version of ALP and the guardian of the museyroom of history, may have the key, now that everyone has heard the plaintiffs and listened to their pleas. We’re back at the letter that may exonerate him. “Of eyebrow pencilled, by listipple penned” (93.25), it would seem to be written by a woman, but it is also the product of many contributors, the list of whom (“From dark Rosa Lane a sigh and a weep, from Lesbia Looshe the beam in her eye, …,” 93.27-94.03) echoes the list of gifts ALP will make in I.8, in her attempt for forestall the gossip about her husband (“A tinker’s bann and a barrow to boil his billy for Gipsy Lee; a cartridge of cockaleekie soup for Chummy the Guardsman; …” 210.07-212.17). Among this list of contributions, we find the book we are reading: “from Timm Finn again’s weak” (93.35-36). What they all tell in one way or another is the familiar story of “the solid man saved by his sillied woman” (94.03), which we’ve seen ever since the first chapter (“How bootiful and truetowife of her …” 11.29).

This paragraph acts as a summary of the letter’s history and personages as we’ve seen them so far, and also prefigures the next chapter, which will be a mock-scholarly examination of the letter. A brace of lines crammed with the names of fruits (94.14-18) brings us the events of the Fall as they played out in Phoenix Park, with “A pair of sycopanties with amygdaleine eyes [IssyBoth12], one old obster lumpky pumpkin [HCE12] and three medlars on their slies [Shaun12 Shem12 ShemShaun12]” (94.16-18). This is accompanied by echoes of HCE’s familiar stutter (“And that was how framm Sin fromm Son, acity arose, finfin funfun” 94.18-19), and pre-echoes what’s still to come: the washerwomen’s gossip from the final chapter of Book I (“Now tell me, tell me, tell me then!” 94.19: compare this with 196.01-05 and 216.03), and the opening of the final chapter of Book III, in which there is a momentary awakening: “What was it?” (94.20) will become a bleary “What was thaas? Fog was whaas? Too mult sleepth. Let sleepth” (555.01-02). The answer to that last question will take us from one end of the book to the other, from alpha to omega:

What was it?
A……….!
?………O! (94.20-22)

94.23-95.26

This paragraph and the next return us to the aftermath of the trial, with the four judges (Mamalujo, Mamalujo12) up in their chambers, in an increasingly drunken and rambling postmortem of the case. They remember HCE (“the great Howdoyoucallem,” 94.34) as the military figure we saw in the museyroom episode of I.1 (“Dirty Daddy Pantaloons, in his monopoleums, behind the war of two roses,” 94.34-36), but more than ever by his vile odour, “like Ballybock manure works on a tradewinds day” (95.02-03): “’tis well I can telesmell him H2CE3 that would take a township’s breath away!” (95.11-13). The culprit’s sexual exploits blur with long-ago memories of their own. Johnny MacDougall (Connacht, in the west) recalls his “redheaded girl” telling him “I’d sooner one precious sip at your pure mountain dew than enrich my acquaintance with that big brewer’s belch” (95.20-21, 24-26).

95.27-96.24

And so they went on, bringing up all “the rustlings and the twitterings and the raspings” (95.31) of rumour and scandal, all of which turn back inevitably once again to the scene in Phoenix Park, where now it seems to be the four old men rather than the three fusiliers who are watching the events, voyeurs as two women pee. The old men quarrel drunkenly, and Lally Tompkins, the arresting officer who has accompanied them (whenever you find Mamalujo, their donkey is never far behind), makes peace. They shake hands and go back to drinking (“schenkusmore,” as McHugh notes, is the German “schenk uns mehr,” pour us more, as well as the corpus of early Irish law, An Seanchas Mór: 96.24). So be it.

96.25

Well?

96.26-97.27

Well (and this is another one of those Wake sentences where it helps to begin by stripping away all the subsidiary clauses and then build them up again in a more blandly sequential way), all of these legal procedures to which we’ve just been party might still not have brought the truth to light. They may not have worked in the serendipitous way in which even someone who sees dimly might (“heaven helping it!”, 96.28) be visited by the inspiration that can discover something new in the familiar ways of grasping the world (the “starchart” that might, if it’s set right, just help “uncover the nakedness of an unknown body in the fields of blue,” 96.28-29). On the other hand, all of these procedures may not have worked as a direct derivation from first principles, either, in the way in which for Vico, all human languages have developed from some ur-utterance, “from the root of some funner’s stotter” (96.31), some founder’s or joker’s or thunder’s stutter or totter or fall.

Even, then, if truth hasn’t come to light in either of these ways, all expert opinion holds that our “hagious curious encestor” HCE (96.34) saved himself for his posterity by playing dead. At this point, the flight of  from the court is replayed as a hunt, complete with dogs and beaters and a quarry that shifts through deer, lion, bear, hare and finally fox, as “a deaf fuchser’s volponism hid him close in covert, miraculously ravenfed and buoyed up … upon … the creamclotted sherriness of cinnamon syllabub” (97.13-17). This is Jonson’s fox, Volpone, who pretends to take to his deathbed in order to dupe his three would-be heirs, and thus yet another version of the struggle of the father and the sons ( against  and). As a consequence of his valetudinarian diet (“the reeducation of his intestines … by whilk he sort of git the big bulge on the whole bunch of spasoakers,” 97.18-20), we begin to see the familiar figure of the triumphant and self-satisfied HCE emerge again, that “great shipping mogul and underlinen overlord” (97.24), against whom all of the recent violence and vituperation have proved useless.

97.25-27

As always, though, any triumph is bound to be no more than momentary. The rotund figure of HCE is Humpty Dumpty, about to fall. This short paragraph is full of variations on that Wake watchword “hesitency” (with the misplaced e that helped condemn the Phoenix Park murderers). After the doublet of “the spoil of hesitants, the spell of hesitency,” the following “His atake is it ashe” reads like another gradually degraded repetition on “hesitate,” underlined by “hasitense humponadimply.”  The repetitions read like another version of the stammer that marks HCE. The paragraph itself is full of stammered Hs and Es, but fewer Cs, as if it’s embarking on a trigram that the guilty stammer never quite lets it complete; it’s filled out with other stammers as well—”tittery taw tatterytail” (the mogul might not have come off unscathed after all), and “heyheyheyhey a winceywencky”).

97.28

Rumour bubbles up again in the assembly of men at the pub, . The hunted fox has hesitated.

This sentence will be echoed with some important differences at 101.01, when it will herald the very different things the women have to say about the matter. For now, though, in the long paragraph that follows, we are listening to the voices of men.

97.29-100.04

The renewed rumours among the men, may have been sparked off by nothing more than a yawn or some other bodily noise or odour. There is a story that he might have suicided, reported in a newsletter, and his children have been shown in public, to acclaim. Then everything goes quiet for a while, and the silence is filled with speculation. The next two pages will outline some of these, separating them at first with a brief leading sentence describing the ways in which various media are disseminating the news.

  • “Sparks flew” (98.04). He is rumoured to have fled the country, and to be holed up in opulence or poverty in Asia Minor.
  • “Wires hummed” (98.14). He has died peacefully and resignedly, attended by a priest.
  • “Chirpings crossed” (98.17-18). He has died of some “vulgovarioveneral” (98.18) disease.
  • “Jams jarred” (98.19). Drunk, he waded into an ornamental lilypond, from which he was saved by some fishermen. The leading sentence suggests a signature: Joyce’s own behaviour when drunk was notorious.
  • “Mush spread” (98.24). When he was taking a drink from a pump on Umbrella Street, a workman gave him a piece of his wood (both Rose and O’Hanlon’s Restored and Henkes and Bindervoet’s variants for Oxford’s World’s Classics include the pronoun). We can only guess at what it was and what was said, and all sorts of guesses have been made by drinkers at all the pubs in town, but “the war is in words and the wood is the world” (98.34-35). What that suggests is that the thing that changed hands could be almost anything, even irrelevant: what’s important is what’s said, how that circulates and the effect it has, as the rumour mill grinds up again. In the face of that, we can only remain silent; it’s no concern of the Guinness drinkers (a phrase we’ll hear again at 309.01). All we hear is the faint “ruining of the rain” (99.03) that has accompanied the last two chapters.
  • “Cracklings cricked” (99.04). News of him passes by over and over, like a cyclist doing laps of the city.
  • “Morse nuisance noised” (99.06). He’s at loose and could be anywhere, but a disguised, rather large and somewhat masculine ex-nun has “hattracted hattention by harbitrary conduct with a homnibus” (99.09-10). Whatever she or he did with or on the bus, that plethora of Hs and hats suggests HCE: the war is in the words again.
  • As if to follow up on the hat, “aerials buzzed” (99.10) to the news that seven items of clothing (another mark of HCE’s presence) have been found near Scaldbrothar’s Hole, a cave where a notorious robber kept his plunder—and the cloak was bloodied. There was a lot of speculation about what might have eaten him.
  • “C.W. [continuous wave, a type of radar system] cast wide” (99.15). On Whitsuntide, someone put a poster on the side door of the pub: “Move up, Mumpty! Mike room for Rumpty! By order, Nickekellous Plugg” (99.19-21), a variation on the graffiti that appeared on Dublin walls after the death of Michael Collins in 1922: “Move over, Mick, make room for Dick” [Collins’s successor Richard Mulcahy]. The poster is “envenomoloped in piggotry” (99.19), after the style of Richard Piggott, the journalist who faked letters attempting to implicate Parnell in the Phoenix Park murders–and who was caught out by his mis-spelling, “hesitency.” All of which shows, no matter how high and mighty he might have been, there was a real murder committed, and the MacMahons did it. He was left lying on the field of valour, his severed hand dripping blood. Some even borrowed copies of the Scatterbrains’ Aftening Posht to make sure that he was really dead.
  • “Transocean [cable] atalaclamoured him” (100.01-02) in a call for the letter, of which we shall see more in the next chapter. As we approach the end of this chapter, HCE lies once more under leagues of water, as he did in its beginning.

100.05-08

The Scatterbrain’s Aftening Posht of the previous paragraph might have been “trilingual” (99.34), but this flurry of newspaper headlines and calls of news sellers mixes German, Czech, Danish, Irish and Anglo-Irish. It’s the familiar scandals: viceroy meets beautiful young schoolgirls, three little Irish children go on an adventure with the giant from Phoenix Park, woman who keeps an alehouse gives her thuggish husband a tongue-lashing.

100.09-23

Whatever may have happened to HCE, the very next day sees a thin spike of smoke rising from his residence, like the smoke announcing the election of a new pope.

100.24-36

The long sentence that makes up most of this paragraph begins with an injunction on what “any being thinking” (100.24) should not take that inhabitant to be. He is not “at his best”—that is, to be taken as nothing more than, a qualification that hangs over all of the elements of the list that follows—”a onestone parable” (100.26-27), the rock on which the church is founded. Neither, on the other hand, should we take him as no more than “a rude breathing on the void of to be” (100.27), that inert sleeping body underlying the book and Dublin itself. Nor is he some sort of effect of autoventriloquism, even if we take that in a literal sense, a belly speech (“bauchspeech,” 100.28) like the rumbles that might have set off the rumours a few pages ago (“‘Twas his stommick,” 97.29-30). And neither, with those “tristurned initials” that are the permutations of the trigram HCE (one of which will end this sentence) is he the key to “a worldroom beyond the roomwhorld” (100.28-29), a space (German Weltraum) or dream (Traum) beyond the room in which the restless sleeper lies entangled. All of these, we should note, are themselves no more than interpretations the Wake has readily invited: a drama of succession, an underlying inert sleeping body, a parable, the endless suggestions of a meaning elsewhere; and now the Wake is warning that it is not just any of these. The sentence is not saying that any of these is necessarily incorrect, but just that there will always be something in excess of and in exception to any and all of them.

The second part of the sentence, then. We should not take any of those to be the key because “scarce one, or pathetically few [note the exception again, and how it grows from barely one to more than one, to be dismissed again by the adverb] of his dode canal sammenlivers [the 12 customers of the pub, who as  are the very spreaders of rumour] cared seriously or for long to doubt … the canonicity of his existence as a tesseract” (100.30-35). HCE is multidimensional, like the tesseract that is the four-dimensional analogue of the three-dimensional cube and the two-dimensional square. His mass even pulls apparently fortuitous material into its orbit, just as the multilingual punning of the Wake produces an incalculable web of potential meaning. The “capture of uncertain comets chancedrifting through our system,” 100.33-34, recalls the comet that is the dominant symbol of the “Ithaca” episode of Ulysses, and the play that chapter makes with the fortuities of meeting. A comet may have two orbits. It may swerve once around the sun in a parabola, and then veer off again into deep space, never to return; or it may have the closed loop of an ellipse, returning even if after a very long time on an extremely elongated axis. How do we tell which is which in any given case? We wait and see.

The imprevidability of the future: once in the summer of 1898 he (Bloom) had marked a florin (2/-) with three notches on the milled edge and tendered it in payment of an account due to and received by J. and T. Davy, family grocers, 1 Charlemont Mall, Grand Canal, for circulation on the waters of civic finance, for possible, circuitous or direct, return.

Had Bloom’s coin returned?

Never. (Ulysses 17.979-87)

But it may be in the change he gets from the pork butcher the next morning.

As this paragraph is about succession, it has a number of allusions to the two brothers, Shem and Shaun, who are frequently identified throughout the book as tree and stone, the quick and the dead. Here, we have that “onestone parable” and the “tristurned initials,” and finally, a series of injunctions: “Be still, O quick! Speak him dumb! Hush ye fronds of Ulma!” (100.35-36). Henkes and Bindervoet’s variants at the end of the Oxford edition give another sentence here: “Stimm unto stein!”, which is either giving voice to a stone or reducing the voice to silence.

101.01

This is an echo of 97.28. After three pages, “Assembly men murmured. Reynard is slow,” has been met with “Dispersal women wondered. Was she fast?” Assembly and dispersal: a small comet returns.

The pages since that first occurrence were filled with the voices of men, the clients at the pub, but these final three pages of the chapter will now be filled with the voices of women. The first occurrence ended with a sentence (“Reynard is slow”), and was followed by a series of hypothetical statements. This time, the occurrence ends with a question, which will now be followed, at least initially, by more questions. And there’s been a dispersal enacted on that word fast. Now it’s not just the opposite of slow, wondering whether she acted quickly enough. What it’s asking is also the question of rumour, whether in all this turmoil ALP stuck fast to her man or was, on the contrary, a “fast woman.”

101.02-102.17

The opening of the paragraph prefigures I.8, the Anna Livia chapter, and its two washerwomen:

Do tell us all about. As we want to hear allabout. So tellus tellas allabouter. (101.02-03)

O / tell me all about / Anna Livia! I want to hear all / about Anna Livia. Well, you know Anna Livia? Yes, of course, /
we all know Anna Livia. Tell me all. Tell me now. You’ll die when you hear. (196.01-06)

It takes a while before we get to ALP, though. First of all, once the audience is bid to listen and settle down, there’s the matter of who the women in the familiar story might have been: “Wimwim wimwim! Was it Unity Moore or Estella Swifte or Varina Fay or Quarta Quaedam?” (101.07-09). There now seem to have been four of them, rather than the two we saw in the earlier versions of the story, but of perhaps dubious repute: they might have been actresses (Unity Moore), or even prostitutes (the slang term quaedam). At least three of those names suggest Swift and his amorous dealings with much younger women, and thus HCE’s own fascination with Issy. The two exclamations that follow seem to be warnings. The first one, “Toemaas, mark oom for yor ounckel!” (101.08), recalls Tristan’s replacement of his uncle Mark as Isolde’s lover; Tristan is as always the tree and stone of the warring brothers. The Danish of “Pigeys, hold op med yer leg!” (101.08-09) [Girls, stop your playing around!] is a call to order, but also prefigures the cynical homilies that Shaun, as the profligate Jaun, will deliver to Issy’s classmates, the 28 rainbow girls, in chapter III.2. The story of Buckley and the Russian general comes up yet again, as well. In the previous retellings—that is, “in ages behind of the Homo Capite Erectus” (101.12-13)—all the stories were about HCE and his various antagonists: HCE and the cad in I.2, HCE and his drunken assailant in I.3. Then, the question that “was wont to be asked” was always “who struck Buckley” (101.15), who raised their hand against the protagonist. “Nowadays,” however, as all women know (“every schoolfilly of sevenscore moons or more who knows her intimologies and every colleen bawn aroof and every redflammelwaving warwifeand widowpeace upon Dublin Wall for ever knows,” 101.16-19), it’s the son Buckley who did the striking, and in doing so deposed the father.

Much of the gossip about this is of course venomous. “The loungelizards of the pumproom,” those “assembly men” whose murmurings we heard a couple of pages earlier (97.29-100.08), have “had their nine days’ jeer” (101.25-26). So too have the “pratschkats” [Polish praczka, laundress, as well as German Pratschen, anecdote], those “dispersal women” or “zhanyzhonies” [Polish zony, wives] we have just heard wondering at their “platschpails” (101.26-28). In the midst of this, Anna Livia arises in his defence, and sets out to “crush the slander’s head” (102.17). This is the tale that will be expanded in I.8. Here, as there, the description of her passage is that of a river, from “the upper reaches of her mouthless face and her impermanent waves” (101.29-30), “dragging the countryside in her train, finickin here and funickin there” (102.08-09). (This time, though, there aren’t the plentiful names of rivers that are so much of the fabric of the later chapter.) She has with her once again the bag of leavings picked up from the battlefields in the very first chapter, when “all spoiled goods go into her nabsack” (11.18-19); these will become the miraculous cornucopia of gifts she disperses to all in the later chapter.

102.18-30

This paragraph opens, like the next chapter, with a prayer to ALP. It places a curse, “the bane of Tut” (102.22) on those who would despoil HCE’s burial mound, for she will defend him and forgive him, even though he “spenth his strenth amok haremscarems” (102.25). (It names the seven rainbow girls, Issy’s peers, according to their “huemoures”, 102.27), their amourous colours.)  “Then who but Crippled-with-Children would speak up for Dropping-with-Sweat?” (102.29-30).

102.31-103.07

This song is a counterpart to the Ballad of Persse O’Reilly (44.24-47.29). It continues the slander, with suggestions that HCE’s sexual appetites (the very thing for which ALP will forgive him with others) led him into a marriage he’d come to regret. McHugh quotes the song “At Trinity Church I Met My Doom” as one of the sources for it:

She told me her age was five-&-twenty,
Cash in the bank of course she’d plenty,
I like a lamb believed it all.
I was an M  U  G
At Trinity Church I met my doom,
Now we live in a top back room,
Up to my eyes in debt for “renty,”
That’s what she done for me.

103.08-11

The obvious reference in this short concluding paragraph is Psalm 137, “By the waters of Babylon,” where the washerwomen of I.8 have “taken our sheet upon her stones” and we “have hanged our hearts in her trees.” The chapter ends with an injunction for us to listen to the voice of ALP “as she bibs us”; and the next chapter will be all about the fragmented letter she is supposed to have written to exonerate HCE.
 

 

 

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