Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 3, 2017

Finnegans Wake, (Folio Edition) by James Joyce #15 Chapter 14

We left Shaun, taking the place of his father Earwicker, floating in a barrel down the River Liffey at the end of Chapter 13…

… and because we have reached the second chapter of Part 3, we are in Vico’s Human Age, (see Chapter One) looking for signs and symbols of burials, cities, laws, civil obedience or popular government; along with vulgar speech, abstract discourse, and (maybe) radio and TV…

… and perhaps we’ll find wheels within wheels, according to Tindall, (see Chapter 13) shaping each chapter within each part, so we may find a divine age, an heroic age, a human age and a ricorso (a period of confusion). #WrySmile Or such Jocyean cleverness may go right over my head, as it mostly does…

Onward!  Tally Ho!

I mention the barrel because had I forgotten it I might well have thought that we had a new character called Jaunty Jaun.  But no, it’s just Shaun with a new name, halting his barrel and delivering another sermon, this time to the twentynine hedge daughters out of Benent Saint Berched’s national nightschool i.e.  the pupils at St Bridget’s nightschool, who made an appearance in chapter 9. (And now I’m remembering something about how the novel turns full circle by the time we reach the end.)  Young Shaun has become a ladykiller, the girls mussing his frizzy hair and the golliwog curls of him, and making a tremendous girlsfuss over him, and (my goodness!)

… feeling his full fat pouch for him so tactily and jingaling his jellybags for, though he looked a young chapplie of sixtine, they could frole by his manhood that he was just the killingest ladykiller… (Finnegans Wake, Penguin Modern Classics Kindle Edition p. 430).

When I come to Shaun a.k.a. Jaunty Jaun presenting his own version of the Ten Commandments to these young ‘ladies’, that must be the Viconian Divine Age, right?

During our brief apsence from this furtive feugtig season adhere to as many as probable of the ten commandments touching purgations and indulgences and in the long run they will prove for your better guidance along your path of right of way. (ibid, p. 432).

But he gets a bit carried away because there’s a good few more than ten of these commandments:

Never miss your lostsomewhere mass for the couple in Myles you butrose to brideworship. Never hate mere pork which is bad for your knife of a good friday. Never let a hog of the howth trample underfoot your linen of Killiney. Never play lady’s game for the Lord’s stake. Never lose your heart away till you win his diamond back. Make a strong point of never kicking up your rumpus over the scroll end of sofas in the Dar Bey Coll Cafeteria by tootling risky apropos songs at commercial travellers’ smokers for their Columbian nights entertainments the like of White limbs they never stop teasing or Minxy was a Manxmaid when Murry wor a Man.

First thou shalt not smile. Twice thou shalt not love. Lust, thou shalt not commix idolatry. Hip confiners help compunction. Never park your brief stays in the men’s convenience. Never clean your buttoncups with your dirty pair of sassers. Never ask his first person where’s your quickest cut to our last place. Never let the promising hand usemake free of your oncemaid sacral. The soft side of the axe! A coil of cord, a colleen coy, a blush on a bush turned first man’s laughter into wailful moither.  (ibid, p. 433).

My trusty guide Tindall says that as well as laying down his commandments, Shaun is also celebrating a mass (reminiscent of Chapter 1 in Ulysses), signalled by this introit of exordium at the beginning and ite missa est (Latin, usually translated as ‘Go, the Mass is ended’) though here parodied as eat a missal lest.   (A missal is the book of the Catholic liturgy that parishioners take to Mass with them). Tindall says there is also a communion too, but although there’s some eating going on, I can’t see the allusions myself.

(I thought I spied a Baptism when I came across We’ll circumcivicise all Dublin country.  That’s in the section where Shaun is going to rebuild the morals of the city of Dublin, with boulevards, sweepstakes and turning the tip into a park.)

Tindall also says that:

… while preaching to the girls, celebrating Mass, and playing his organ, Jaun is going through the fourteen Stations of the crucifixion of Jesus – not, however, in their customary order.  [See The Way of the Cross,  [refer to Chapter 13].  (A Reader’s Guide to “Finnegans Wake” by William York Tindall, Syracuse University Press, 1969, p.236)

He lists all fourteen, which serves only to show me how much I manage to miss in my naïve reading of this amazing book.  (I am cheered only by Tindall’s obvious perplexity in decoding Shaun’s possible ascension and second coming.  If Tindall doesn’t ‘get it’ after multiple readings and a team of fellow scholars to help him, who am I to be worried about it, eh?)

Anyway, here are Stations 1, 2 and 10, which show just how obscurely Joyce is playing with his hapless readers:

Station 1: (Jesus is condemned to death), hinted in Chapter XIII, is hinted again by “privy-sealed orders” (488.29)

Station 2: (Jesus carries the cross), also hinted in Chapter XIII, is now attended to by “gross proceeds”, “load on ye” (431.27-28), and “the Lord’s stake (433.14).

[…]

Station 10: (Jesus is stripped of his garments) is hinted by “undraped divine” (435.14-15), “undress”, “overdressed if underclothed”, “Strip off that nullity suit” (441.2–5,30), and “gentleman without a duster” (432.24).  Cf. “Mulligan is stripped of his garments” (Ulysses, 16) (Tindall, p.237-8)

(The numbers refer to the lines of the text of FW so that readers can find them in any edition).

In the sermon there is a warning against literature, (Vanity Fair, and three of Dickens’ novels); against arts; against music.  But his laws of ‘civil obedience’ allow for plenty of sex and food as long as it’s home cooking, everytime. Even incest – to be avoided with his father or brother –  is ok if it’s with him, he tells his sister Isabel.  I’ll be all over you myselx horizontally, he says, and goes on to say:

The pleasures of love lasts but a fleeting but the pledges of life outlusts a lieftime. I’ll have it in for you. I’ll teach you bed minners, tip for tap, to be playing your oddaugghter tangotricks with micky dazzlers if I find corsehairs on your river-frock and the squirmside of your burberry lupitally covered with chiffchaff and shavings.  (Finnegans Wake (Penguin Modern Classics, Kindle Edition p. 444).

and he threatens her too, if she should ignore his prohibitions, all for her own good:

Snap! I’ll tear up your limpshades and lock all your trotters in the closet, I will, and cut your silk-skin into garters. You’ll give up your ask unbrodhel ways when I make you reely smart. (ibid, p.445)

But, you may be pleased to hear, Isabel interrupts her loquacious brother, and announces that she’s not going to take much notice of any of this. This might be the Viconian heroic bit, eh?  The human age is surely where Shaun starts talking about food.  Eventually (after a mystifying interlude with trees, Egyptian gods and allusions to a sphoenix resurrection) Shaun sets off again in his pulpitbarrel to exile.  The girls think he’s dead, and there’s a bit of a wake, but off he goes very cheerfully it seems to me.

BTW radio and TV do get a mention: this is when Shaun tells Isabel, a.k.a. Sissybis and Sissytart and Stella (and *sigh* muddled with her mother too, and (so says Tindall) somehow also the two girls in the park that Earwicker may or may not have assaulted.  Campbell says she’s Iseult, whatever she’s called, she’s Shaun’s sister IMO):

 I was pricking up ears to my phono on the ground and picking up airs from th’other over th’ether. (ibid, p452)

AND there’s a clear signal how to look out for Vico: The Vico road goes round and round to meet where terms begin. (That’s assuming you knew who Vico was and what his Viconian ages were all about, of course.  I wonder how long it took for the scholars to recognise that, and what Joyce meant by it?)

This chapter is, as Tindall says, comparatively easy.

However rambling and incoherent, [Shaun’s] discourse to Stella presents few difficulties to the moderately hardened reader. (Tindall, p 242).

So that’s what I’ve become, eh, a moderately hardened reader!

On to Chapter 15!

Sources:

A Reader’s Guide to “Finnegans Wake” by William York Tindall, Syracuse University Press, 1969; and

A Skeleton Key to “Finnegan’s Wake”: James Joyce’s Masterwork Revealed, by Joseph Campbell and Henry Morton Robinson, Collected Works Edition, New World Library, 2005

Finnegans Wake (Modern Classics) read by Jim Norton with Marcella Riordan, Naxos AudioBooks 2009

Finnegans Wake (Penguin Modern Classics), introduction by Seamus Deane, Penguin, 2015.  (I’m using the Kindle edition ASIN B00XX0H95S, just to make quoting easier because typing the text is such a provocation to AutoCorrect).)

 


Responses

  1. What a legend you are Lisa. Am almost tempted to join that elite group of Joyce readers. Have never gone beyond The Dubliners which is unforgettable. But you are so thorough and generous in your reviews that it’s a disticnct possibility that will tackle next year. Unlike you I read very slowly.

    • Thank you, Fay, that’s really encouraging because I do wonder whether blogging my efforts is a form of madness!
      I listened to an audio book of Dubliners recently and loved it. The stories were read by a succession of Irish accents, and some of them I listened to more than once. So good, so very, very good.
      I would suggest that you start with Portrait of a Young Man, firstly because it’s great and it’s not scary-hard, and secondly because bits and pieces of it are echoed, distorted, and played games with in Ulysses and in FW. So it’s sort of like limbering up!

  2. I think blogging your efforts is as clear an appreciation of FW that the rest of us will ever get, and I’m loving every word of it. I may wish I had a Tindall for the Kathy Acker I’m working on currently, but where would be the fun in that.

    • Kathy Acker? That would be the one in 1001 Books, whose work is described by one reviewer at Goodreads “as all kinds of messed up, dotted with graphic cartoons, dream maps and weird poems”?

      • That’s the one!

        • I could scan the entry in 1001 Books and email it to you…

          • That’s ok thanks Lisa. I see I can download 1001 books as pdf. I can even see other authors who reference Acker. That’s my next day off done for!

  3. […] Well, after a gap of a fortnight due to my struggles with Existentialism, I am back here with Finnegans Wake and starting to entertain ambitions to be done by the end of the year.  Tindall says Chapter 15 is one of the easier ones though this may be contingent on being a hardened reader as noted in my previous post. […]


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