Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Notes on Ulysses, Pomes Penyeach, and Textual Materiality in Finnegans Wake

It's evident that by the time he got to Finnegans Wake Joyce's unit of attention had narrowed to the single letter. He had fully absorbed the great lesson of his seven years with Ulysses, that what he was engaged in day after day was not "telling stories," no, but formulating minute instructions for printers, whose habit of attention goes letter-by-letter likewise. - Hugh Kenner, "Shem the Textman" from p. 38 of Finnegans Wake: A Casebook

*   *   *

Ever since the big Joyce birthday this past February 2nd of 2022, which was also the centennial of Ulysses (1922) being published, I've been thinking about the richness of Joyce's own descriptions of Ulysses provided in the meta-textual-commentaries within Finnegans Wake (1939). These meta-commentaries show how much Joyce emphasized the material qualities of these texts. In a previous post I touched on scholarly work I was reading showing Joyce's intricate intentions for the final textual product of his books. With the first edition of Ulysses, to give one example, there were specific words referring to specific numbers set to appear on corresponding page numbers. These subtle quirks were lost when pagination was changed in subsequent editions. With Finnegans Wake, mercifully the pagination tends to be fairly consistent across different editions. But material quirks reign across its pages, the whole thing is made of puzzling epiphanic typos, "prepestered crusswords in postpositions" (FW 178.03-4), the reader is continually compelled to "Stop and Think" (FW 88.01) and the book has an entire chapter that serves as a metatextual primer on the appearance of the text itself (Book I, chapter 5). Within that chapter are also fascinating insights about Ulysses from Joyce's perspective, including on its materiality qualities. 

Taking a look at the Letter chapter (I.5), starting on page 122 we get this commentary about Ulysses:

the toomuchness, the fartoomanyness...the cut and dry aks and wise form of the semifinal; and, eighteenthly or twentyfourthly, but at least, thank Maurice, lastly when all is zed and done, the penelopean patience of its last paraphe, a colophon of no fewer than seven hundred and thirtytwo strokes tailed by a leaping lasso (FW 122.36-123.06)

How better to describe the blizzard of verbal information confronting a reader of one of Joyce's big novels than "the toomuchness, the fartoomanyness"? Overflowing and excessive, too much information packed into too many digressions, unsolvable riddles, and obscure jokes. Within that outlandish approach is a dynamic mixing of different styles, as with the penultimate or "semifinal" chapter of Ulysses, "Ithaca" which overflows with precise mathematical details, or Xs and Ys, in a cut-and-dry unadorned Q&A fashion, described here as "the cut and dry aks and wise form of the semifinal" (ask and whys or x and y's). "Ithaca" is the 17th or "semifinal" chapter of Ulysses but since he had already completed the 18th and final episode, this was actually the last chapter that Joyce was trying to complete before the final typesetting of the text. (In addition to that, Joyce mentioned to his patron Miss Weaver in a letter from Oct. 1921: "Ithaca is in reality the end as Penelope has no beginning, middle, or end.")

The process of typesetting Ulysses was hectic, not least because the text contains so many idiosyncrasies and the printer Maurice Darantiere ("thank Maurice") was a Frenchman who didn't speak English, but also Joyce kept jotting in more lines to be added into the text.

I recently got to view some of the typescript pages of "Ithaca" and they are filled with these "whiplooplashes" (FW 119), these long curvy lines indicating new blocks of text to insert. This could be in the reference here to "a leaping lasso" the rope-like lines lassoing in new bits to add into the final text. I think it's fascinating that Joyce, within Finnegans Wake, here comments not only on the materiality of his previous book Ulysses (including describing the first edition page count of "seven hundred and thirtytwo") but also the process of its creation, thanking the printer Maurice for his "penelopean patience" in dealing with the frantic final stages of composition.

The "last paraphe" "when all is zed and done" could refer to a number of things that appear at the end of Ulysses: "paraphe" means initials or signature, a final flourish, which could be the "Trieste-Zurich-Paris, 1914-1921" at the end of the text; or it could refer to the last long paragraph of the Penelope chapter; the word "paraphe" also is immediately followed by "a colophon" which means a printer's emblem at the end of a book, so the expression "thank Maurice" might actually be an allusion to the final page at the end of the first edition of Ulysses, the printer's emblem.

One other more remote possibility for the final "paraphe" at the end of Ulysses could be that mysterious black dot at the very end of the Ithaca episode: since this was the last chapter Joyce wrote, that concluding black dot might be Joyce's final flourish in writing that work (before moving on to his next book where all the characters have become typographical icons, "the Doodles family" or "Mister Typus, Mistress Tope and all the little typtopies" FW 299.F05, FW 20.13).  At an exhibit on "Women and the Making of Joyce's Ulysses" at the Harry Ransom Center here in Austin, I got to witness up close one of the typescript pages for the end of Ithaca where Joyce added in the final question "Where?" and the famous black dot. The typescript page had handwritten instructions in pencil (too faint to see below) in French, specifically addressing Maurice Darantiere about the final dot—"ne pas oublier le point final" ("don't forget the final point") and "imprimer SVP" ("please print"). Having known about this infamous black dot for years, it was incredible to witness the handwritten notes up close. 

Typescript for Ithaca with Joyce's handwritten notes.
(Harry Ransom Center, Univ. of Texas at Austin.)

Continuing with the meta-commentary from the Letter chapter (I.5):

the ulykkhean or tetrachiric or quadrumane or ducks and drakes or debts and dishes perplex... in the case of the littleknown periplic bestteller popularly associated with the names of the wretched mariner... a Punic admiralty report... had been cleverly capsized and saucily republished as a dodecanesian baedeker of the every-tale-a-treat-in-itself variety... (FW 123)

It seems the word "ulykkhean" is the closest thing to Ulysses that appears in the Wake, besides "his usylessly unreadable Blue Book of Eccles" (on FW 179.27). Perhaps it's fitting that the Danish word ulykke which means misfortune or accident, is echoed here. Not only is the story of the Odyssey about a series of misfortunes at sea, in Ulysses mistakes become portals of discovery, and there are several noteworthy "accidents" both large and small throughout the book. My sense is that Joyce is actually conflating Ulysses and Finnegans Wake in this passage, that word "ulykkhean" meaning accidents or mistakes could refer to the Wake where essentially every word is a mistake, a typo.

The Wake is also a book of dots and dashes or a "debts and dishes perplex" and the cryptic words "tetrachiric" and "quadrumane" here both mean "having four hands" which could refer to the four book structure of the Wake, the four stages of the Viconian cycle, the annals of the four masters (medieval history of Ireland), or the four provinces of Ireland (compare pg 325.32 "our quadrupede island"). We are clearly focused on Ulysses when reading of "the littleknown periplic bestteller popularly associated with the names of the wretched mariner… a Punic admiralty report" which gives strong emphasis to the Homeric parallels with Joyce's book. The word "periplic" refers either to circumnavigation or to a sailor's documentation of the ports, coasts, and routes on a voyage. The Punic wars, referred to here, took place in the Mediterranean Sea where the wanderings of Odysseus would have occurred. Every part of this passage is interesting, but for Joyce to describe Ulysses as "the littleknown periplic bestteller popularly associated with the names of the wretched mariner" is especially funny, combining "littleknown" with a popular best-seller or best-teller since Homer was an oral poet. At the time Joyce was writing this passage (late 1920s), Ulysses was stuck in that in-between stage where it was still pretty difficult for a reader to acquire a copy, yet it was also popular, or rather it was notorious. 

This is where I think he conflates Ulysses with the Wake: this popular book about the mariner "had been cleverly capsized and saucily republished as a dodecanesian baedeker of the every-tale-a-treat-in-itself variety" so it sounds like he flipped that book upside down in some clever way, as if the Wake is a capsized version of Ulysses. It also could be saying the original Odyssey was capsized and turned into the "dodecanesian" twelve Bloom-focused episodes at the heart of Ulysses (more about that shortly), but I think that word "dodecanesian" also echoes dodecahedron the "polydron of scripture" that is the Wake, a book with a geometry lesson in its center (II.2). 

Going further into the Wake, looking at Book II.1 has some interesting stuff about Ulysses as well. In that chapter, the Joyce-based character Shem the Penman is now named Glugg. Glugg gets rejected by the girls in a kid's game and runs off into exile where he then composes his art. The text has become weirder and more opaque at this stage of the book, but the annotations suggest references to the events and context surrounding Joyce's composition of Ulysses. Looking on page 228, the densely constructed lines include several puns on World War I trench-digger dialect (Joyce was writing Ulysses in the middle of the war). Then TS Eliot's The Waste Land (1922) which took inspiration from the early serialized episodes of Ulysses (Joyce responded in kind by borrowing inspiration from The Waste Land in the Wake), seems to be present in "He do big squeal like holy Trichepatte" (FW 228.06) because the original title for Eliot's Waste Land was actually "He Do the Police in Different Voices" (taken from a line in Dickens). And most relevantly, the page mentions "ban's for's book" and "banishment care of Pencylmania, Bretish Armerica" because Ulysses was banned in America and England. Returning to the materiality of the book, we then get this encoded allusion to the final words at the end of Ulysses:

quit to hail a hurry laracor and catch the Paname-Turricum and regain that absendee tarryeasty, his citta immediata, by an alley and detour with farecard (FW 228.22)

"Paname-Turricum" with "tarryeasty" becomes a reversal of "Trieste-Zurich-Paris" which appears after the final “Yes” from Molly to conclude Ulysses. These are the cities Joyce lived in during the composition of Ulysses. "Paname" is a nickname for Paris (apparently from Panama hats, which are mentioned several times throughout Ulysses), "Turricum" is the old name for the settlement that became Zurich (the name is actually Turicum with one r, the double-r here brings in turret a tower like the Martello Tower where Ulysses opens), and "tarryeasty" would be the city of Trieste, but also John Gordon suggests Tara for Ireland of the east. I think it could even be a subtle reference to the Irish name of the city of Dublin, Dubh Linn, meaning "black pool" (hence "tarry") on the east coast of Ireland. I think "regain that absendee tarryeasty" also involves regaining his absentee city starting with the letter D, Dublin which Joyce was exiled from but mentally immersed in while he lived in Trieste, "his citta immediata." McHugh suggests there's also subtle reference to Swift here with "quick, hurry" followed by Laracor which is a city in county Meath, Ireland where Swift was a vicar. Also involved here, one of many Irish authors alluded to in this section is the 19th century Irish author Charles Lever, who wrote the novel The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer hence "hurry laracor." Lever was from Dublin, but he actually died in Trieste where he was living on assignment as British consul. This passage in the Wake centralizes train travel, perhaps recalling Joyce's odyssey across Europe in his years of exile, as he tried to avoid the destruction and turmoil upon the outbreak of the Great War, "detour with farecard." The train ticket could also be a metaphor for Joyce's constantly returning to Dublin inside his head while living abroad.

On the following page is where the names of the middle episodes of Ulysses are presented in the form of distorted Wakese:

Ukalepe. Loathers' leave. Had Days. Nemo in Patria. The Luncher Out. Skilly and Carubdish. A Wondering Wreck. From the Mermaids' Tavern. Bullyfamous. Naughtsycalves. Mother of Misery. Walpurgas Nackt. (FW 229)

These are the 12 middle chapters of Ulysses, the Bloom-focused chapters. The first 3 and the last 3 chapters are excluded. This list suggests a couple interesting points (leaving aside the puns and wordplay on the chapter titles): for one thing, by drawing attention to the episode names this way Joyce seems to be expressing the importance of these titles despite them never actually appearing anywhere within the text of Ulysses itself; and secondly, the absence of the first three and last three chapters from this list highlights the emphasis on the Homeric correspondences embodied in the chapters focused on Leopold Bloom, strengthening the case for Ulysses "the littleknown periplic bestteller popularly associated with the names of the wretched mariner" being very much about navigation and seafaring. My friend Decio Slomp, an engineer from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, recently published a book documenting all of the nautical references embedded in each episode of Ulysses to argue exactly this: it's all about navigation.

*   *   *

In 1927 Joyce was once again broke, hurting for cash, begging Sylvia Beach for help despite the substantial royalties she'd already been sending him for Ulysses. An exasperated Beach bristled at his pleas, listing out the monthly income he was receiving off Ulysses and suggesting he be a better friend "to me who is your friend if ever you had one" and admit that he was spending considerable sums of money (29 April 1927, see Gordon Bowker's Joyce biography, p. 363). Wishing not to upset the proverbial applecart, Joyce sent her manuscripts for Dubliners and Stephen Hero, the friends made peace and eventually agreed to have Shakespeare and Co publish Joyce poems in a new collection, Pomes Penyeach.

Another edition of Pomes Penyeach was printed in 1932 by Obelisk Press. Joyce scholar Katarzyna Bazarnik writes of this edition:

Pomes Penyeach was published once more during Joyce’s lifetime by the Obelisk Press of Paris in 1932. This was the most beautifully designed of all his books, printed on specially imported Japanese paper (called Japan nacre or iridescent Japanese vellum). It consisted of nine loose folio sheets, folded and laid one within the other, placed in a portfolio bound in pale green silk. The poems were printed in black on recto of each leaf, in facsimile of Joyce’s handwriting and opened with illuminated, multi-coloured initials designed by Lucia. Additionally, the pages were interlaid with sheets of transparent tissue on which the title and text of each poem was printed in green in the lower left-hand corner. (Bazarnik, "Joyce, Liberature, and Writing of the Book" from here.) 

Bazarnik shows a copy of this rare 1932 edition of Pomes Penyeach which belonged to Harriet Shaw Weaver that got damaged in a fire in her garage:

Pomes Penyeach, Obelisk Press, H.S. Weaver’s copy
burnt at the edges by a fire in her garage. (KB here.)

Seeing the imprint of Joyce's handwritten title and signature on the cover of this rare, delicate, and nearly destroyed book of poems (or pomes) further fed my fascination with Joyce's own interest in the material presentation of his writing. These ideas actually converge and resonate when Joyce weaves in a mention of Pomes Penyeach within a very rich passage in the middle of Finnegans Wake, p. 302. The passage is worth looking at in detail, since it appears to describe Joyce "signing away in happinext complete" signing autographs from beyond the grave, and now coming back to life ("Can you write us a last line?") sending messages, his letters to the reader sounding like modern-day text-speak:

me elementator joyclid … the aboleshqvick, signing away in happinext complete, (Exquisite Game of inspiration! I always adored your hand. So could I too and without the scrope of a pen. … Can you write us a last line? From Smith-Jones-Orbison?) ...
And i Romain, hup u bn gd grl. Unds alws my thts.  …
Two dies of one rafflement. Eche bennyache. Outstamp and distribute him at the expanse of his society. To be continued. Anon.
(FW 302.12-30)

Joyce as "me elementator joyclid" intertwines Euclid whose Elements pop up throughout this geometry/mathematics lessons chapter (II.2). The way "joyclid" is described as "me elementator" also includes the word mentator, as in one who mentates, drawing our attention to the person whose mental activity gave written life to the consciousness buried in the pages of Finnegans Wake, a glimpse of "me" "joyclid" breaking the fourth wall. It does seems like Joyce is pulling back the curtain here to reveal himself, "the aboleshqvick, signing away in happinext complete"---the abolished bolshevik, still scribbling his signature from the next dimension beyond the grave "in happinext complete."

The paragraph's emphasis on signatures ("signing away","I always adored your hand") calls to mind a line from earlier in the book (FW115.06-08), "why, pray, sign anything as long as every word, letter, penstroke, paperspace is a perfect signature of its own?" The implication seems to be that Joyce knew by the time he was writing this that he was so famous that anything he ever wrote, scribbled, or signed would become valuable as part of his legacy. 

"Exquisite Game of inspiration!" hints at the creative game known as the Exquisite Corpse, made famous by the surrealists. Since Joyce has already brought himself into the equation here as "joyclid" and alluded to his continued existence after death "signing away in happinext complete" the reference to Exquisite Corpse seems a clever way of suggesting his corpse is constantly revivified by readers playing the game of reading this book. Collaboration among creators who are unaware of each other's contributions is the core of how the Exquisite Corpse game works, thus Joyce seems to be directly addressing the collective game of interpretation involved in reading Finnegans Wake. After all, the text at one point expressly considers whether "His producers are they not his consumers?" (497.01) Readers are active participants or collaborators with Joyce in giving meaning to this chaotic text. As Joyce scholar Alan S. Loxterman described in his essay "Every Man His Own God: From Ulysses to Finnegans Wake":

Joyce was working toward his ultimate achievement, an anomaly in the history of literature which expands the way we read. Today, and into our foreseeable future, Finnegans Wake survives not as the completed comprehensible entity which previous fiction (including Joyce's own) had conditioned us to expect. Rather it remains what Joyce first called it, a 'Work in Progress,' an artistic arrangement of words which requires continuous collaboration from its readers to make those words meaningful as a text. (from Joyce's Finnegans Wake: A Casebook p. 115)

The impression I get from the paragraph on FW302 is that it's like Joyce letting the reader know he's still actively writing from beyond the grave, exchanging letters with the reader. Hence, "Exquisite Game of inspiration! I always adored your hand" could be like a reader actively complimenting Joyce on his writing here in the middle of a book. Then they request one last line, "Can you write us a last line? From Smith-Jones-Orbison?" McHugh notes Smith-Jones-Orbison as an allusion to the mathematician and puzzlemaker Henry Dudeney who used the names Smith, Jones, Robinson in his puzzles published in The Strand Magazine in the early 1900s. (Joyce would have been familiar with this magazine, it was published by the same company as Tit-Bits which Bloom reads in Ulysses.) Bringing in a popular puzzlemaker/mathematician makes sense here in the geometry chapter and it's fitting that the usage implies Joyce as the creator of mathematical puzzles. My reading of why Robinson becomes "Orbison" is the "orb" represents Joyce's boast that he had squared the circle, or circled the square. Since Dudeney appears elsewhere in the same chapter in another triptych ("Dideney, Dadeney, Dudeney" see FW 284), I wonder whether Joyce knew of Dudeney having developed a hinge method for turning a triangle into a square, by splicing it into pieces, rotating them (circling) until they form into a perfect square.

"And i Romain, hup u bn gd grl. Unds alws my thts." This is Joyce, writing sometime in the late 1920s, predicting the clipped condensed language of millennial text messages. It's also yet another example of Joyce in the Wake calling attention to individual letters. The lowercase "i" certainly stands out, especially alongside the capital R in "Romain" and together suggests something like "iDomain" or maybe an echo of "iSpace" which appears earlier in the text (124.12), a link that could actually make sense since the German word Raum means "space." This amusing little line comes across in the context of the passage like Joyce answering the request to "write us a last line" with a declaration that he still remains. If "i Romain" really does echo the earlier "iSpace" (FW 124.12) with Raum (space) involved, then it seems to imply Joyce declaring that while he's absent from time, he remains in space through all of his printed works and the "signatures" of his surviving manuscripts and materials, "paperspace." "Unds alws my thts" has implications beyond "and always in my thoughts" which are enhanced by the minimized phrasing---"Unds" in the context hints at girl's undies and in millennial slang "thts" would be thots or promiscuous women, as though he's promising the girl that she remains among his favorite ladies. (This line has a footnote at the bottom of the page which carries similar implications: "Lifp year fends you all and moe, fouvenirs foft as fummer fnow, fweet willings and forget-uf-knots." [FW 302.F04] Not only does Joyce invent fweet here, he's once again calling attention to the visual presentation of the text on the page by using the so-called long S or lowercase F for the letter S in this sentence. The "fouvenirs foft as fummer fnow" are souvenirs left for his readers, and invoking snowfall here recalls the ending of "The Dead" where the snowfall is also described with f-words, "faintly falling"---compare also FW 17.27 "flick as flowflakes." And then "forget-uf-knots" would be the flowers called forget-me-nots, but also seems to be Joyce once again declaring he will not be forgotten, due to the "knots" of riddles his readers are forever unraveling.)

"Two dies of one rafflement." So much information saturates these short sentences. The sound of two dice in "Two dies" along with the presence of the French word rafle for "game of dice" in "rafflement" draws an allusion to Stéphane Mallarmé's groundbreaking poem Un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard (One Throw of the Dice Will Never Abolish Chance). The essay I've referred to throughout this post, Katarzyna Bazarnik's study of Joyce's focus on the textual object discusses the remarkable influence Mallarmé had on Joyce. In his study of Mallarmé and the dice poem, R. Howard Bloch's book One Toss of the Dice: The Incredible Story of How a Poem Made Us Modern (2016) points out that "Joyce kept a copy of 'One Toss of the Dice' close at hand while writing Finnegans Wake." (Bloch, p. 26)

Condensed in here with Mallarmé is also one of Joyce's earliest publications, his essay "The Day of the the Rabblement" published in 1901 as a student. The essay was rejected by the university paper, so Joyce and his friend Francis Skeffington (who was later murdered in the chaos following the 1916 Easter Rising) collaborated to publish a pamphlet of two essays together and distributed them throughout Dublin, hence this passage in the Wake concluding with "Outstamp and distribute him."

Joyce's student essay "The Day of the Rabblement" (1901).

The notebook dates at the JJ Digital Archive suggest Joyce was writing these lines around the same time Shakespeare & Co was publishing his poetry collection Pomes Penyeach (1927), thus the echo of the title in"Eche bennyache" resonates. Each, penny each. And then, "Outstamp and distribute him at the expanse of his society." The word "Outstamp" strikes me as another way to say express, but it also alludes to printing, Joyce's printed works for over a century now distributing across the world "at the expanse of his society" literally expanding the Joyce society and doing so at our expense as we shell out each penny, "Eche bennyache." "Eche" also contains the initials HCE for Here Comes Everybody. And McHugh notes the early Middle English word eche means "eternal, everlasting." The writer lives on through his printed works being distributed expansively throughout society, "To be continued. Anon."

Evident in the phrase "Eche bennyache" is also ache, belly ache. Joyce suffered from severe stomach issues while writing the Wake and shortly after the book's publication he died during surgery for an ulcer. Going back again to the section examined earlier (pgs 229-231 of book II.1) some of the same themes and references stand out, where the focus is on the autobiographical Shem character, the riddles he writes, and how "he's knots in his entrails!" (FW 231.25). 

"And oil paint use a pumme if yell trace me there title to where was a hovel not a havel (the first rattle of his juniverse) ..." (FW 230.36-231.02)

Joyce declares, I'll paint you's a poem ("pumme") if you'll trace me the riddle to the title to where was a novel not a novel (the first riddle of his universe). The first rattle of his junior verse, "Et Tu Healy" which he parodies immediately after these lines. This was Joyce's first poem written when he was 9 years old. His father proudly had it printed so he could distribute copies, even sending a copy to the Vatican. No surviving copies of "Et Tu Healy" have been identified as of this writing, though if one were to be discovered it could fetch up to 2 million dollars at an auction. A poem written by a 9-year-old. Only a few lines from the poem are known, and Joyce parodies them on this page (231.05-08). Echoing the earlier quoted assertions of "i Romain" and "To be continued. Anon." this same page also begins a sentence with, "Though he shall live for millions of years a life of billions of years" (FW 231.18-19). 

Sunday, July 31, 2022

from "The Hideous Hidden" by Sylvia Legris

 1, Plummet






. . . . . . . .
What is the little book
of the collected work of sleep?

What is the sleepless continuo? 
The endless malady?
The restless octave
that inoculates night?

. . . . . . . .
Nocturna suppressio.
The bacterially spreading falsetto.

. . . . . . . .
Dark dialyzes day's deliriums.
(Desperate cases demand desperate doses.)

Diazepamic diatonic.
The chemically sung interval
between sleep and shortfall
(the short slip between

falling hypnagogic
off a cliff and falling
off a cliff). The shudder
awake, the crash.

- from The Hideous Hidden by Silvia Legris, pg. 20 (New Directions, 2016)

Saturday, July 30, 2022

52 Wave Words in the Wake

A list of 52 Wave Words in Finnegans Wake.
An attempt to read Finnegans Wake only for the wave lines.

(See also Several Short Videos of the Sea from my iPhone.)

                                                 "By the fearse wave behoughted."

"the jimminies was to keep the peacewave"

                   "The soundwaves are his buffeteers"

                  "the wave of roary and the wave of hooshed"

"and the wave hawhawhawrd
the wave of neverheedthem-"

"Sweet bad luck on the waves washed to our island"

"They have waved his green boughs o'er him as they have torn him limb from lamb." (58.06)

"under night's altosonority, shipalone, a raven of the wave"

"Wave bore it. Reed wrote of it. Syce ran with it. Hand tore it and wild went war."

"flammelwaving warwife"

"that the upper reaches of her mouthless face and her impermanent waves were the better half of her"

"Rockabill Booby in the Wave Trough"

"burning body to aiger air on melting mountain in wooing wave"

"and the bergs of Iceland melt in waves of fire"

"The meeting of mahoganies, be the waves"

"But the majik wavus has elfun anon meshes."

"trickle me through was she marcellewaved or was it weirdly a wig she wore."

"sequansewn and teddybearlined, with wavy rushgreen epaulettes"

"Well, arundgirond in a waveny lyne aringarouma she pattered and swung and sidled"

"twinglings of twitchbells in rondel after, with waverings that made shimmershake"

"a message interfering intermitting interskips from them (pet!) on herzian waves"

"Arise, Land-under-Wave!" 

"what are the sound waves saying"

"That grene ray of earong it waves us to yonder"

"our lavy in waving"

"(Wave gently in the ere turning ptover.)"

"Will you walk into my wavetrap?"

"fin above wave after duckydowndivvy"

"on the fields of the foam of the waves of the seas" 


"the four maaster waves of Erin, all listening, four.
There was old Matt Gregoryand then besides old Matt
there was old Marcus Lyons, the four waves"

"not to forget the four of the Welsh waves, leaping laughing"

"at their windswidths in the waveslength"

"I might as well be talking to the four waves"

"he knowed his love by her waves of splabashing" 

"we come to newsky prospect from west the wave on schedule time"

"twill carry on my hearz'waves my still waters reflections in words"

"It was then he made as if be but waved instead a handacross the sea"

"with a posse of tossing hankerwaves to his windward"

"trailing the wavy line of his partition footsteps"

"They came from all lands beyond the wave for songs of Inishfeel."

"Among the shivering sedges so? Weedy waving."

"and there, by wavebrink, on strond of south"

"These brilling waveleaplights!"

"Only trees such as these such were those, waving there"

"awike in wave risurging into chrest"

"mild beam of the wave his polar bearing, steerner among stars"

"you spun your yarns to him on the swishbarque waves"

"When the waves give up yours the soil may for me."

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Joyce's Birthday and Sylvia Beach

February 2nd, 2022 marked 100 years since the publication of James Joyce's Ulysses by Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare and Company bookshop in Paris. The day of 2/2/2022 was also the 140th birthday of James Joyce. Ten years ago at my other blog I wrote a short summary of Joyce's life for his 130th birthday. Back then I also wrote a piece describing with 16 reasons why James Joyce is the greatest writer ever. Both older pieces seem to hold up well I think, even though that was from before I had ever read Finnegans Wake. Finnegans Wake also had a birthday on February 2nd, it marked 83 years since Joyce's final masterwork first appeared in print after nearly two decades of serialization under the title Work in Progress. Joyce told a friend, "since 1922 my book has been a greater reality for me than reality." (Ellmann, 695) Back in 2010 after Danis Rose and John O'Hanlon brought out their new-and-improved "corrected" edition of Finnegans Wake, I wrote about the frantic final stages in the proofreading and publication of such a bizarrely written book. This was how the Wake came into the world:
Joyce finished composing the book on November 13, 1938 after laboring on it for nearly 17 years and then for the next month and a half, Joyce, with help from his friends Stuart Gilbert and Paul Léon and some professional proofreaders, frantically worked around the clock to proofread the book as Joyce insisted that it be printed by his birthday (February 2nd) no matter what. During this time, Joyce barely slept at all and once collapsed during a walk in Paris. In his famous Joyce biography, Richard Ellmann tells another story from this "frenzy of proofreading":
Léon supplied a last drama by forgetting a section of the revised proofs in a taxi. He rushed back to stop the driver, but the taxi was gone. Bitterly ashamed, he hurried to Joyce's flat to inform him; Joyce did not reproach him, seemed rather to take it as the usual sort of bad luck. Léon telephoned to London to send more proofs, but the taxi driver, after two hours, miraculously appeared with the missing package. (JJ, Ellmann, pg 714)
Joyce received a printed copy of the book from his publishers, Faber & Faber, on January 30th and for his birthday party on February 2nd, he celebrated the culmination of his years of work with friends and family. Paris' best caterer baked seven cakes, each one a replica of Joyce's seven books, with icing the color of the books' bindings. At the dinner celebration, Joyce told the guests how the idea for the book came to him in 1922 when he was at Nice in France and, after dinner, Joyce and his son sang a duet and his son's wife read aloud the last pages of Finnegans Wake.

When Ulysses was published in 1922 the era was fraught due to obscenity charges which led to Joyce's most famous book being declined by publishers in the English-speaking world for fear of legal action against them. Instead the owner of a small bookshop in Paris, American expatriate Sylvia Beach, took on the task of publishing the first edition of Ulysses. By the time Joyce was wrapping up Finnegans Wake in the late 1930s, he was the biggest literary celebrity in the world. He appeared on the cover of Time magazine and Faber & Faber published and promoted his new book.

Joyce had in his hands the first printed copy of Finnegans Wake for his 58th birthday. He would not live to see the age of 60. He died January 13th, 1941 in Zurich after escaping Paris with his family before the Nazis took over France. With the Wake turning 83 years old, I was thinking what year would it have been had Joyce lived to the age of 83? 1965. One can only imagine. Ezra Pound died in 1972. Joyce's son Giorgio lived until 1976 and daughter Lucia died in 1982. 

Sylvia Beach died in 1962. That same year she recorded an interview that's available to watch on YouTube, shared below. It's a fantastic clip for Joyce fans, she describes what kind of person Joyce was, and (starting at 15:00) she tells the story of how, after the Nazis invaded Paris in 1940, a group of German officers came to her shop demanding to have her final copy of Finnegans Wake. She refused, and after they threatened to come back and confiscate all her stuff, she hurriedly emptied the shop and shuttered up Shakespeare and Company. 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

"So This Is Dyoublong?" Living inside the World of the Wake, Part 1

"He ought to go away for a change of ideas and he'd have a world of things to look back on." 
- Finnegans Wake p. 160

This past summer, in the midst of a breakup from a long-term relationship and needing to go far away, I embarked on my first ever trip to Ireland. I ended up spending much of the past few months in and around Dublin. For somebody like me who has been interested in the writings of James Joyce for almost 15 years now, with the last 10 years spent hosting a Finnegans Wake reading group that deciphers each page down to its tiniest details, and maintaining this blog devoted to the Wake, the experience of spending so much time exploring Dublin and environs for the first time was transformative. Suffice to say I have an entirely new perspective on Joyce's work now. My head is filled with thoughts and reflections, so much that I don't know where to start. But since I have so much to say about it, I'm going to start posting a series of reflections about the experience on this blog. 

My first few days in Dublin I recall being in awe at everything around me since I'd been reading about the details of the place for so many years. Landmarks felt oddly familiar and deeply significant even though I was seeing them for the first time. Howth Head, so prominent on the horizon when looking north or northeast, it wasn't just a piece of rocky terrain, it was the head of the sleeping giant Finn MacCool. The Wicklow Mountains weren't just some green rolling hills, they were the place where the sea-formed clouds rain down and become the source of the River Liffey, an ongoing natural cycle. Even the ubiquitous flocks of seagulls sprung to mind the squawking sea-birds in Book II.4 of Finnegans Wake, "Three quarks for muster Mark!" (FW p. 383.01) 

I grew up in New York City where famous sights like the Manhattan skyline, Verrazano Bridge, and Statue of Liberty were familiar aspects of home. An out-of-towner visiting a place like New York City for the first time would instantly recognize many of the landmarks and sights from the background or setting of the worlds of NYC-based films and tv shows. With Joyce's Dublin though, the city is not merely the setting for Finnegans Wake---so much of the book is about the landscape itself, the ecology, the littoral life of the coastal zone, the street grid and its voices, the layers of historical events that shaped the place. Dublin in the Wake becomes the universal city, a city rendered into text with so much mythical depth and detailed density it makes you contemplate all cities.

So far I haven't yet mentioned Ulysses in connection with my experience of Dublin. I certainly was interested in the Ulysses stuff during my time there. I swam in the Forty Foot in Sandycove, saw the magnificent Martello Tower (in fact, I stayed for a week in a different Martello Tower a stone's throw away, a story for another day), on an almost daily basis I walked along Westland Row just like Bloom and went to Sweny's Pharmacy to participate in readings a few times, I even made my way over to Eccles Street. There is no lack of Ulysses stuff in Dublin, the city seems to fully embrace the importance of Ulysses which was really cool to witness. A constant habit of mine while staying in Dublin and exploring Ireland was to always search inside the texts of both Ulysses and Finnegans Wake each time I experienced anything new. And the impression I got was that Finnegans Wake, even more than Ulysses, contains seemingly every single tiny detail of Dublin. Every street I spent time on, I looked for it in Finnegans Wake, and nine times out of ten I found it in there. Every district, every sight I saw, it all seemed to be there in the Wake. It became clear that Joyce redoubled his efforts to place every possible detail of the city of his birth into ink while writing the Wake over the last 17 years of his life. 

There were a few instances I noticed where Joyce had included some Dublin detail within Ulysses as part of a listicle, only to expand on it and scatter more references to it in Finnegans Wake. A couple quick examples---I spent a few days staying in a nice little district called Ranelagh in south Dublin, so I started looking for the place in Joyce's books. It pops up one time in Ulysses in a list delineating the route taken by one of the Invincibles prior to the Phoenix Park Murders, whereas in Finnegans Wake the neighborhood Ranelagh appears at least four times. Later on, when I went to Howth Head the little islet known as Ireland's Eye really stood out to me. It's a small island just off of Howth, a mysterious and striking sight visible from along the northern coast of Howth, the island has its own Martello Tower and the ruins of an early-medieval church. Ireland's Eye pops up once in Ulysses as part of a list of sites in the Cyclops episode, where in the Wake I have found at least a dozen appearances of Ireland's Eye. That could very well be because Howth and environs are so prominent in the Wake---a fact which really made a lot of sense to me once I saw Dublin and noticed Howth Head is an unmistakable feature on the horizon from almost anywhere.

A thought I kept returning to over and over was: how did Joyce, while in exile away from Ireland for the last few decades of his life, manage to render all of this in such precise detail? And why? Why would this genius author spend day after day writing only about this place (where he no longer lived) in such painstaking detail? As for the why, Joyce told Arthur Power, "For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal." On days when I wandered around in what seemed like a James Joyce theme park (a phrase I'm borrowing from former Dublin resident Robert Anton Wilson), casually walking down Westland Row, past Finn's Hotel, down to St. Stephen's Green, past the Shelbourne Hotel, over to King Street past the Gaiety Theater, back towards Grafton Street, up past Trinity College (all places that appear throughout Finnegans Wake) and then along the River Liffey, the river of life, the universal river Joyce anthropomorphized as Anna Livia Plurabelle in the Wake, I'd stop to stare at the varying ripples along the surface of the waters, and I was struck by a feeling I could only really convey in the following meme. I was this dude looking around at everyone else in the bustling city wondering how they didn't share my wonder for the Wake-ness of it all. 

For more than a dozen years I had been a passionate reader of the Wake, so much that I was even writing this blog solely devoted to talking about this one book, and throughout that whole time I had never experienced Dublin and had only a minuscule appreciation for the actual Irish elements of the text. It was always just that I loved the literary pyrotechnics and have always been fascinated by the Wake as the darker and more under-appreciated twin of Ulysses, this mysterious text which Joyce labored on for so many years, through so many hardships and then died right after it was finally published. Once I finally made it to Dublin, the incomprehensible Wake I'd been puzzling through for so long began to make sense on a level I'd never experienced before. I can say without a doubt, you cannot truly comprehend the phrase "from swerve of shore to bend of bay" until you've seen Dublin. The swerving shore and bending bay is such a distinctive quality of that coastline and that coastline is such a fundamental part of that city.

Speaking of the coastline and the opening sentence of the Wake... my favorite spot in Dublin, the place that struck me the most and which remains tattooed on my heart, is Vico Road. The view from Vico Road is one of the most breathtaking sights I've ever witnessed. 

View from Vico Road.

...more Vico Road views.

"The Vico road goes round and round to meet where terms begin."
- FW 452.21

Prior to experiencing the place, Vico Road in Dalkey had always seemed like it was simply a curiosity, a funny coincidence that there just so happened to be a road in the Dublin area named for the Italian philosopher Giambattista Vico whose writings so heavily influenced Finnegans Wake. For a week I stayed in the beautiful old town of Dalkey and realized Joyce must have spent significant time there, I believe he had a teaching job in a school there. In Robert Nicholson's book The Ulysses Guide: Tours Through Joyce's Dublin I read that the Nestor chapter where Stephen teaches a class (and which chapter contains the only mention of Vico Road in Ulysses) most likely takes place at a school in Dalkey and I noticed Dalkey seemed to be home to many schools, the town was always filled with students in the afternoons. The Ulysses tour book mentions that Stephen likely walked down to the Dalkey train station after teaching class. Vico Road is a short walk from the Dalkey train station. 

For me, as a Wake nerd knowing the significance of Vico to Joyce, walking to Vico Road felt like a sort of pilgrimage. My first glimpse of the views from Vico Road blew my mind, I'd no idea it was such a beautiful place. It turns out this gorgeous area was thought to resemble the Bay of Naples in Italy and that's why the roads nearby are named after the Neapolitan Vico and the town of Sorrento on the Amalfi coast (Vico Road connects to Sorrento Road and Sorrento Park---Sorrento appears a few times in FW). During my trip, I was fortunate to meet a girl who lived right near Vico Road in Killiney Beach and so I got to spend a lot of time in that area staring out at those gorgeous views. That part of town truly felt enchanted to me. There's just a vibe over there. Having spent so much time there, trying to see that area through the eyes of young Joyce, it is now my theory that the area around Vico Road---where one looks southward at the promontory of Bray, and northward at Dalkey Island with its own Martello Tower and medieval church ruins, with the bend of bay and Irish Sea stretching out in between---made such an impact on the young Joyce that it significantly contributed to his fascination with Vico (which, if I'm not mistaken, had begun around the time of his earliest writings and grew into a full-fledged obsession with Vico in the Wake).

I also think it was not only Joyce's appreciation for Vico's theories but also his memories of Vico Road itself which led to its placement in the first sentence of the Wake: 

riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. 

After witnessing all of these places firsthand, I feel there is an uncanny ecological poetry to this sentence. Tough to put into words but where I felt I understood this most clearly was while standing atop Killiney Hill (Molly Bloom recalls walking up Killiney Hill for a picnic, by the way). Close near Vico Road, there's a path that will take you up to the top of Killiney Hill, from which you can see a panoramic view of the whole city of Dublin. I think it's the best possible view of the city, and from there looking out at the jutting peninsula of Howth, and looking down at the river ostensibly in the lowlands in the heart of the city, casting your glance out to the swerving shore going southward, you begin to sense how that natural cycle so central to the Wake actually functions---the waters of the river rushing eastward and dispersing out to sea, spreading along the coast northward to Howth, and southward to the area along Vico Road, only to eventually evaporate into clouds which rain down on the westward hills (and the elevated areas of Howth and Vico Road) and drain into the river to recirculate and start the cycle over again. 

Looking out at that panoramic view I had a vision that Joyce had rendered this city into ink on page with Finnegans Wake, as thoroughly and successfully as one possibly could transform a piece of populated land into a book. I was thinking of how the Wake describes itself as a mysterious written object that was discovered "in the course of deeper demolition" (FW 110.28), buried underground where it "acquired accretions of terricious matter" (FW 114.29). I pictured the book as an organic object, "underground and acqueduced" (FW 128.09) soaking in all the dirt and sewage of the city which fed the text's fusing together with the layers of earth and its history, branching out rhizomatic roots "of increasing, livivorous, feelful thinkamalinks; luxuriotiating everywhencewithersoever among skullhollows and charnelcysts of a weedwastewoldwevild" (FW 613.19-20). Even in the modernized city there are still so many old structures in Dublin such that it seems you're often staring back centuries into history, living alongside ghosts. Exploring Dublin, and thinking over the Wake's obsession with burials, archeological excavations, and resurrections sprung to mind how every city, seen through a Wakean timelapse, involves so much dispersion and dissolution down into the ground. We are all always walking on soil mixed with the blood of the dead, or as the Wake has it, "while a successive generation has been in the deep deep deeps of Deepereras. Buried hearts. Rest here." (FW 595.27-29)

To be continued...

Thursday, August 26, 2021

Beyond the Portal: Further notes from reading FW Book I.3-4

The text of Book I.3-4 of Finnegans Wake is so inexhaustibly rich (the word for it on pg 91 is "inexousthausthible") that my notes on this part of the book keep growing the more I think on it and each note could expand into its own area of study. Without going too deep into any of these subjects though, I'm going to share below some cursory and mostly disconnected observations from reading this part of the Wake. Consider these expanded footnotes to my previous post on The Portal


Ishtar Gate reconstruction in Berlin Museum


In my last post, focusing on the scene of a confrontation at a pub gate, I talked about the image of the gate as a portal to the afterlife or to the underworld. I later learned that the name for the city of Babel, as in the Tower of Babel, comes from the Akkadian bab-ilu which literally means "Gate of God" stemming from the same root as the name of Babylon. This section of the Wake touches on this etymological link in a few ways where the attacker at the gate is described: "This battering babel allower the door and sideposts, he always said, was not in the very remotest like the belzey babble of a bottle of boose" (FW 64.10-11, emphasis added). The passage on pg 69 of FW all about the Gate prominently mentions the Babylonian goddess Ishtar (to whom the Ishtar Gate of Babylon was dedicated) and, later on, in the last two pages of chapter 4, we find references to Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, and ALP sings the lyrics to a song called "by the waters of babalong" (FW 103) or Babylon. I think this chapter ending on pg. 103 is an echo of the chapter ending on pg. 74 where HCE drifts off into deep sleep at the sound of rain drops, whereas here it's the sound of a rushing stream, the waters of Babylon. My last post touched on the appearance of a ziggurat on pg 100 in the phrase "beaconsfarafield innherhalf the zuggurat" where HCE himself seems to have been buried inside a tomb within an illuminated ziggurat. The Tower of Babel legend is thought to be based on the Ziggurat of Ur, the ziggurat being a meeting point or portal between this realm and the ethereal realm, in other words a "Gate of God." Generally I think the clusters of references to Bablyon and Ur (and elsewhere in the text, clusters of references to the Garden of Eden) are intended as a way of signaling the main character fallen asleep is descending back to origins---in deep slumber he's going back to the world of the womb, "backtowards motherwaters." (FW 84.30-31) 


The Bat

The attacker at the gate wields a "fender" or some type of a cudgel weapon that morphs and changes appearance throughout chapters 3-4. Details of the story keep changing---there was an attacker banging a bottle at the locked gate, or it was an encounter in the streets with the legless strangler Billy-in-the-Bowl, or there was a no-holds-barred wrestling match with an armed burglar. Joyce intertwines random details from various real-world contemporary newspaper accounts of crimes and trials. Witness accounts vary, "our mutual friends the fender and the bottle at the gate seem to be implicitly in the same bateau" (FW65.35-36) it says at one point, while earlier a witness declares "No such parson. No such fender. No such lumber." (FW 63.11) On page 81, the object is made to appear like a crowbar that a burglar and his victim wrestle over: "catching holst of an oblong bar he had and with which he usually broke furnitures he rose the stick at him." (FW 81. 31-32) On the next page the object could be a Webley revolver pistol, when, in the middle of their "collidabanter" it says "a woden affair in the shape of a webley" (FW 82.16) falls out of the burglar's pocket. On pg 84 it's a "humoral hurlbat" a bat used in the Irish sport of hurling. Later on pg 98 the weapon evolves again through rumors and kaleidoscopic views, "Batty believes a baton while Hogan hears a hod yet Heer prefers a punsil shapner and Cope and Bull go cup and ball." The presence of bat and ball suggest cricket and/or baseball references here, but more on that in a moment. As discussed in my last post, in the book Wake Rites, George Cinclair Gibson describes the "Batter at the Gate" confrontation as paralleling certain rituals of the ancient Irish druids. One of these rituals, which were designed to divest the old king of his powers, apparently included a hostile druid confronting the king at a doorway while aggressively wielding the wooden "shamanistic device" known as a bull-roarer. Gibson gives a good argument for the mysterious wooden object in this part of the Wake being a bull-roarer (see Wake Rites, p. 88-90) and notes that J.S. Atherton in his Books at the Wake observed that Joyce definitely knew about this druid device. 


Wicket Gate

Joyce in his notes titled this section "Batter at Gate" and I'm intrigued by the use of the word batter here because, as the story morphs and mutates, there are noticeable elements of cricket and baseball. The mysterious wooden weapon wielded by the attacker becomes a bat (p. 84.04) and in the pages describing the gate at one point it says the attacker "went on at a wicked rate" (FW 70.32) which Fweet notes as an echo of "wicket gate" which could be the wicket in cricket. Peter Chrisp wrote a really fascinating blog post describing how Joyce was a lifelong fan of cricket with an extensive knowledge of the game's golden age players. There are tons of references to the gameplay of cricket and famous cricketers within the Wake. Notice also how the "trilithon" version of HCE's siglum resembles a wicket:

A wicket used in cricket. The name comes from wicket gate, a small gate.

trilithon E siglum for HCE

The confrontation at the gate gets re-examined and re-litigated in this part of FW and each time the details change. The identities of the two combatants can seem to blur, the presence of a "fender" as weapon helps confuse offender and defender. The nature of the clash changes. By the time we get deep into chapter 4, evidently the clash at the gate involved somebody throwing a stone. The attacker under questioning "would swear... he did not fire a stone either." (FW 91.08-11) Knowing Joyce had a love for cricket, and knowing also (after reading Brian J. Fox's insightful and well-researched book James Joyce's America) that Joyce closely tracked American popular culture of the time and filled FW with American pop cultural references, I think it's highly plausible Joyce was aware of American baseball and included it within the Wake. Seasoned Joyce scholar John Gordon apparently agrees---in his annotations for this section, he expands on the phrase "Pegger's Windup" (FW 92.06) with this: "given this chapter’s plethora of American idioms, 'pitcher’s windup' seem highly probable here.  (For non-American readers: in baseball, a pitcher will gyrate his body before fixing it in position before releasing the ball.  See 91.11-2 and note.)" His additional note from pg 91 refers to "Pegger Festy" where he explains the name has to do with someone throwing stones. Looking a little more closely at this page reveals more potential allusions things that sound like baseball, cricket, bat and ball games:

91.26: "as true as he was there in that jackabox that minute"  [baseball batter's box]

91.27: "or wield or wind" [wield a bat, wind up to pitch]

91.30-32: "if ever in all his exchequered career he up or lave a chancery hand to take or throw the sign of a mortal stick or stone at man"  [take or throw, pitcher's signs, stick or stone]

Following "Pegger's Windup" and "Pegger Festy" we also get "Wet Pinter" (FW 92.07) which, although likely anachronistic, could be an allusion to baseball terminology where a pitcher with good precision is said to "paint" the edges of the strike zone. With a batter at the gate and someone winding up to fire or peg a rock, and words like "sockdologer" on pg 91 (American slang for a decisive blow) there's definitely the impression of a clash resembling the pitcher/batter confrontation in baseball. Since this part of the Wake deals so much with origins, bringing in Babylon and numerous references to Adam & Eve, I think it's possible Joyce is touching on the metaphorical underpinnings of bat and ball games like cricket and baseball. In her insightful study of baseball and mythology Ground Rules: Baseball & Myth (1995), Deanne Westbrook quotes from the novel The Celebrant where Christy Mathewson theorizes on the origins of bat and ball as ancient weapons, stone and stick, perhaps even the first murder weapons:

"Throwing and clubbing. What could be more ancient?... We have to grant that our prehistoric forebears employed those same arts against the creatures of nature--indeed, against one another. Even in holy writ, mustn't we imagine that Cain slew Abel with a stone guided by the bare hand, or a club wielded as a bludgeon? Think of it. I stand on the pitcher's mound, the batter at home plate. We are surrounded by every manifestation of civilization... Yet my action in throwing and his in swinging are echoes of the most primitive brutality." (Ground Rules: Baseball & Myth, p. 110) 




When I shared that last post, a commenter replied asking "no turnpike?" So let's discuss the turnpike. The turnpike, as in a turnpike road where a toll is taken, and more specifically referring to the old turnpike road system in Dublin from the 1700s-1800s, appears frequently in Finnegans Wake usually in connection with HCE who is "our family furbear, our tribal tarnpike" (FW 132.32). The turnpike first appears on the opening page with "their upturnpikepointandplace is at the knock out in the park" (FW 03.22) where "the knock out in the park" refers to Castleknock, the district on the western side of Phoenix Park in Dublin. So there must have been a turnpike road there, but Fweet also alludes to a turnpike in Chapelizod, the area south of Phoenix Park where the action of the Wake is supposed to take place. HCE and his family are ostensibly asleep in their home above the pub owned by HCE, which is generally considered to be the Mullingar House pub in Chapelizod. When we meet HCE at the beginning of chapter 2, he's "jingling his turnpike keys" (FW 31.01) and is said to be "a turnpiker who is by turns a pikebailer no seldomer than an earwigger!" (FW 31.27-28). 

I think the turnpike takes on an additional meaning in the Gate passage I previously examined from page 69 where we read: "Now by memory inspired, turn wheel again to the whole of the wall." This is apparently referring to another very real pub in the vicinity of Phoenix Park, a pub known as The Hole in the Wall (formerly known as Black Horse Tavern). The Hole in the Wall pub is located in the district of Ashtown just north of Phoenix Park, and the phrase "turn wheel again" refers to the turnstile (or turnpike) set in a hole in the adjacent Phoenix Park wall. You can see the turnstile in the wall here in this old photograph:

Looking at Google street view, you can see the turnstile is still there to this day in the same spot:

I am left wondering why, though, if the action of the Wake is supposed to take place at Mullingar House in Chapelizod on the southern edge of Phoenix Park, why the scene would shift across the park to the Hole in the Wall pub in Ashtown. Maybe it's got something to do with the recurrent theme of HCE walking through Phoenix Park at night and either being accosted or encountering girls peeing or some other vague incident. Or maybe it makes more sense that the belligerent drunk who's banging at the locked gate would be stuck behind a locked turnstile. For what it's worth, the trek across the park from the pub in Chapelizod to the pub in Ashtown is about a 45 minute walk:

I am actually in Dublin right now as I type this and I'm planning to get over there this week to explore both of those pubs and the space in between.


Via Heraklea

Ancient intersection of the Via Appia and Via Ardeatina by Piranesi

We touched on roads in relation to the turnpike above, but later in chapter 4 the references to roads proliferate so much that it's worth taking a closer to see what's going on. On page 80, while the street-cleaner and scavenger Kate Strong is delivering her witness account of what transpired, she mentions "there being no macadamised sidetracks on those old nekropolitan nights" (FW 080.01-02)---where the allusion to macadamization refers to a method of making or repairing roads, and "nekropolitan nights" could be an allusion to how Roman roads were lined with tombs and gravestones since the dead were forbidden to be buried within the city walls---and then over the next few pages we get several references to roads and paths. 

The allusions to roads cluster especially on page 81 where we get this interesting line: "If this was Hannibal's walk it was Hercules' work." (FW 81.03) The many references to roads and particularly this conjunction of Hannibal and Hercules and a pathway ("Hannibal's walk") took on a new meaning for me when I read Graham Robb's groundbreaking book The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts (2013) which is essentially a prehistory of the Roman road system. Robb mainly focuses on what's known as the Via Heraklea, an ancient road originally constructed by the Gaulish Druids extending from the tip of present-day Portugal along the southern edge of the Iberian peninsula up through the Alps. The road was said to be in the footsteps of Herakles who was originally a sun god, and Robb thoroughly lays out a convincing argument that the Druids, who were masters of astronomy, laid out the road to be in perfect alignment with the rising of the sun at the summer solstice and the setting of the sun at the winter solstice (the reference to "middle earth" in the book's title has to do with the Druids attempting to align the earthly world or middle earth with the upper world of the sky). As for the connection between Hannibal and Hercules in that line from FW pg 81, Robb offers this (mind you, he makes no direct reference to anything from Finnegans Wake):

Ancient writers who described the Carthaginian invasion knew that Hannibal saw himself and wanted to be seen as the successor to Herakles. He would march across the mountains in the footsteps of the sun god, shining with the aura of divine approval. (The Discovery of Middle Earth, pp 18-19)
When Hannibal stood at the Matrona in the early winter of 218 BC, watching his elephants stumble down to the plains of northern Italy, he knew that he was standing in the rocky footprints of Herakles. His strategists and astrologers, and their Celtic allies and informers, were certain that the sun god had shown them the way. (ibid, p 21)

"If it was Hannibal's walk it was Hercules' work."
(FW 81.03)

Via Heraklea, from The Discovery of Middle Earth by Graham Robb

I have no idea how Joyce would've known about the Druid Geodesy underlying the Roman road system or whether he knew about the Via Heraklea, but the connecting clues in this part of the Wake certainly give credence to Joyce being aware of what Robb discusses in his book. For example, Robb emphasizes that the ancient Celtic road system in Gaul was designed during the Iron Age, and on pg 79 line 14 of the Wake we read of "those pagan ironed times." That quote immediately precedes the appearance of clusters of references to roads and paths in the text. Then we have on pg 81, "If it was Hannibal's walk it was Hercules' work" which is followed by a paragraph making multiple references to roads including a treacherous mountain pass---"in the saddle of Brennan's (now Malpasplace?) pass" (FW 81.14-15) where Brenner Pass is a mountain pass that goes through the Alps.

And as regards the Via Heraklea as a solstice road, the very next page after the Hannibal/Hercules/roads passage mentions "the solstitial pause for refleshmeant" (FW 82.10) followed by the appearance of "Yuni or Yuly" (FW 82.28) and "Yuletide or Yuddanfest" (FW 82.36) which would be June/July and Yuletide/Judenfest (Christmas/Jewish holidays), in other words the summer solstice and winter solstice. I should also mention that one of the figures who frequently comes up in Graham Robb's book is the Celtic tribal leader Vercingetorix who led a failed rebellion against the Romans, and Vercingetorix also appears numerous times in FW, including three times in the section of the book we're focusing on here. What any of this has to do with the confrontation at the pub gate, I'm not entirely sure. Notably, the Roman roads are often punctuated by archway gates. In my last post, I touched on the idea that the gate threshold has to do with HCE crossing over into the night-world akin to Osiris going into the underworld in his night boat. Osiris travels under the earth amid the stars and this part of the Wake, besides containing references to the astronomically-aligned Druid road system, is also loaded with references to astronomy and astrology, but that's a topic for another day. 


H.E.R.E. C.O.M.E.S. E.V.E.R.Y.B.O.D.Y.

Among the many fun easter eggs to discover in Finnegans Wake are the instances of meta-reference where the book tells you about something specific located elsewhere in the book. One interesting example of this appears on page 6 where it says "see peegee ought he ought" (FW 006.32) and if you read that as "see pg 88" and look to page 88 of the book, what stands out is the long acronym that spells out the name Here Comes Everybody: "Helmingham Erchenwyne Rutter Egbert Crumwall Odin Maximus Esme Saxon Esa Vercingetorix Ethelwulf Rupprecht Ydwalla Bentley Osmund Dysart Yggdrasselmann" (FW 88.21-23). I mentioned in the last post that in this part of the Wake, HCE either encounters or is seen to embody dozens of mythic gods and historic kings from various cultures and I think that's evident in this long name here. But also, that line from page 6 "see peegee ought he ought" is, according to the notes in Fweet, also a specific reference Joyce was making to an image plate shown between pgs 88-89 of a 1911 book by a French Egyptologist, Gods and Kings of Egypt by Alexandre Moret, and that specific plate displays an image of "The Wake of Osiris" not just the wake but the awakening, according to the mythology a revival via sexual arousal brought about by his sister Isis to resurrect him. You can read more about all of that here. I bring it up to further emphasize the identification of HCE with Osiris who was also known as Osiris-Unnefer and I read somewhere that Unnefer could be why Joyce gave his hero the first name of Humphrey.


The Canon

That memorable line from the closing pages of chapter 4 "the canonicity of his existence as a tesseract" (FW 100.34-35) provokes many ideas. I previously discussed how, at this stage in the text, HCE as a person with an identity has been obliterated (either in deep sleep or in the transition thru the underworld after death) and here on pg 100 he has become "the prisoner of that sacred edifice" (FW 100.25), buried like an entombed pharaoh king inside of some kind of tesseract ziggurat, "innerhalf the zuggurat" (FW 100.19). 

Focusing on that word "canonicity" though---it's apparently a real word that Joyce took from apocrypha about the New Testament but I think there is more to it. HCE entombed inside a ziggurat tesseract is also HCE or Here Comes Everybody or all of human knowledge, myth, history, inventions, tools, and treasures buried inside The Canon of the book, the tesseract cube that is the book Finnegans Wake itself. Similar to how HCE in the Wake is made to literally embody the collective corporal body of the city of Dublin itself, his existence here has become the canon, and "the canonicity of his existence as a tesseract" means Joyce's Everyman buried forever inside the literary canon along with all of his "inhumationary bric au brac"(FW 77.33), the gems and artifacts to be discovered by the reader who exhumes the tomb of the text. 


The Trial

While the text grows increasingly opaque, the noticeable narrative throughout Book I.2-4 revolves around a scandalous legal trial, the details of which are always vague and obscured yet we return to the courtroom scene over and over. Witnesses give their differing accounts of what happened, lawyers cross-examine, judges convene in chambers, one of the defendants even rips a loud, stinky fart that shocks everyone. Besides bringing in details from several legal trials of his era, Joyce also weaves into the text details from the tragic wrongful conviction of Myles Joyce, an Irish peasant who spoke no English but was tried in an English court, convicted of massacring a family, and executed in 1882, the year Joyce was born (Myles Joyce was posthumously pardoned in 2018). That trial was impactful for James Joyce, he published an essay about it in 1907,  "Ireland at the Bar".

Also, though, for virtually the entire time Joyce was composing Finnegans Wake in the 1920s and 30s, he himself was essentially on trial in courtrooms in the United States for the scandals around his banned book Ulysses. The more the reader can understand that, the clearer it becomes why so much of the Wake, beyond even these chapters about the trial, uses a style of interrogation and intensive questioning trying to get to the bottom of something. A recent book by Brian Fox James Joyce's America sheds some clarifying light about all of this:

The first part of the Wake to be drafted, Book I.2-4 in the finished work, deals with introducing HCE and his alleged crime and subsequent trial. The earliest drafts make clear that Joyce's own writing is under indictment here as well... The narrative voice immediately follows accusation with defence and counter-accusation---a move that will be repeated numerous times throughout the finished work... (James Joyce's America, p. 184)

Fox goes so far as to argue, convincingly I think, that the central theme of a crime and a legal trial in Finnegans Wake has to do with the scandals of Joyce's American reception (specifically, the trials over the chapters of Ulysses published n the Little Review, Joyce's American copyright struggles and the piracy of his work by Samuel Roth, and the federal ban of Ulysses). Fox writes:

The core theme of HCE's alleged crime in the park and its subjection to trial and defence from the start involves those adversarial elements of Joyce's American reception linked to legal confrontation...
Indeed, so much of the book is concerned with defending or indicting the alleged crime or crimes in the park that Joyce's response to his own exploitation [via Roth selling pirated editions of Ulysses & Finnegans Wake in USA] and condemnation---the incorporation into the work of its hostile reception---is arguably one of the primary themes of the Wake itself." (James Joyce's America, p.  184-185)

(Thank you Peter Coogan and the whole Austin Finnegans Wake Reading Group.)