Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Monday, 16 October 2017, Pages 418 - 420

Read as far as "An infant sailing eggshells on the floor of a wet day would have more sabby." (420.16)

Before that we read the poem of Ondt and the Gracehoper. It is available in regular English in Joseph Campbell's 'A Skeleton Key To Finnegans Wake'. (See pages 264-265 in the 2005 edition of the book.) You can also listen to the entire Joycean version of the fable here and read a critical analysis of the fable here. The original version of the fable of the Ant and the Grasshopper by Aesop is of course available here!

Regarding Ondt and the Gracehoper, Joseph Campbell writes the following on page 264:
"Underneath the sly insect play of this fable, the Gracehoper restates Shem's philosophy: there are advantages to Shaun's possessions and the thrift that begot them - all of which the Gracehoper appreciates - but he would not relinquish his own life style to enjoy them. He can see the Ondt's point of view, but why cannot the Ondt see his? - The fact that Shaun recites this fable would seem to indicate that he knows very well of the charm of Gracehoper existence, but realises that he is incapable of enjoying it, and therefore insists the more on imposing his own store-keeping pattern on the world."

Friday, 13 October 2017

Monday, 9 October 2017, Pages 416 - 418

We stopped at "Haru!" (418.8)

Next week we shall be starting with the poem on the Ondt and the Gracehoper (pardon, ant and the grasshopper) on page 418.

(My apologies that I have no time this week to write a bit more about the delightful pages we read this week.)

On another note, we are celebrating this month the completion of five years of reading of Finnegans Wake with Fritz Senn. It was in October 2012 that we came together to 'read' the book. Let us celebrate with a glass or two at the James Joyce Pub, Pelikanstrasse, after our reading on next Monday, 16th October. 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Monday, 18 September 2017

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Monday, 11 September 2017, Pages 403 - 411

We read as far as "Weak stop work stop walk stop whoak." (411.6)

Of course, we did not read all these 8 pages on one afternoon! But I want to include here all that we have read so far in Book 3 - and more - in order to extract some sense out of these 'fun' pages. I had to seek, naturally, Google's help to search for this 'sense'. I have reproduced what I found below and have listed the sources at the end. At the outset it helps to remember that we are still in the dreamland of Earwicker. He is dreaming of his son Shaun. (Shaun is referred to in FW as The Postman, and his twin brother Shem as The Penman.)

Joyce is said to have written in a letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver the following about this part: "the copying out of Shawn which is a description of a postman travelling backwards in the night through the events already narrated. It is written in the form of a via crucis of 14 stations but in reality it is only a barrel rolling down the river Liffey."*

Wikipedia's page on Finnegans Wake** has the following explanation on Book 3 / chapter 1:
"Part III concerns itself almost exclusively with Shaun, in his role as postman, having to deliver ALP's letter, which was referred to in Part I, but never seen.[71]
III.1 opens with the Four Masters' ass narrating how he thought, as he was "dropping asleep",[72] he had heard and seen an apparition of Shaun the Post.[73] As a result, Shaun re-awakens, and, floating down the Liffey in a barrel, is posed fourteen questions concerning the significance and content of the letter he is carrying. Shaun, "apprehensive about being slighted, is on his guard, and the placating narrators never get a straight answer out of him."[74] Shaun's answers focus on his own boastful personality and his admonishment of the letter's author – his artist brother Shem. After the inquisition Shaun loses his balance and the barrel in which he has been floating careens over and he rolls backwards out of the narrator's earshot, before disappearing completely from view.[75]"
Anthony Burgess has this to say: "In the first chapter he (Shaun) presents himself to the people-sly, demagogic, totally un­trustworthy, obsessed with hatred for his brother and ready with another parable to figure forth the enmity-a charming tale called "The Ondt and the Gracehoper", in which he himself is the industrious insect, while Shem, the irresponsible artist, fritters the hours away in the sunshine. But Shaun is more ready to admit to himself now that his own extrovert philosophy is insufficient, that the life of the "gracehoper" has its points. Shaun can rule over space, but he cannot, like the artist, "beat time". Sooner or later, when Shaun's rule col­lapses, we shall be forced to move back to the father, in whom both dimensions meet and make a rounded world. Shaun rolls off in the form of a barrel: he has filled himself with the food that is his father, but it has not nourished him; he is becoming a big bloated emptiness."***

* Annotations to Finnegans Wake, Roland McHugh, p. 403
** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnegans_Wake#Part_III
The numbers 71 to 75 refer to the links given in Wikipedia. 
There Book 3 is referred to as part III, and Book 3/chapter 1 as III.1
The first of the fourteen questions is on page 409: 'But have we until now ever besought you, dear Shaun, we remembered, who it was, good boy,.....'
*** http://www.metaportal.com.br/jjoyce/burgess1.htm

Please note that there will be no blog post next week.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Monday, 14 August 2017, Pages 397-399

Today we completed Book II of Finnegans Wake.

It was a fitting end with a song (or is it a poem?) that had 'Led it be!" as the last line. Were the Beatles inspired by Joyce just like he inspired the Caltech physicist Murray Gell - Mann to give the name quark (Three quarks to Muster Mark, p. 383) to elementary particles that are the fundamental building blocks of matter?

The song/poem is in four parts. Each part is 'recited' by one of the four old men/ four evangelists /mamalujo. These four parts refer to the four provinces of Ireland (Matthew, from the north, is Ulster; Mark, from the south, is Munster; Luke, from the east, is Leinster; and John, from the west, is Connaught*), to four days of the week (Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday respectively), and to four metals (gold, silver, copper and iron). As usual, one does not ask 'Why?'

What is clear is that these four old men are talking about Tristan and Isolde. (Hear, O hear, Iseult la belle! Tristan, sad hero, hear!). They also mention that Tristan and Isolde go off down the river in a boat leaving King Mark behind. (And still a light moves long the river.... The way is free.... Their lot is cast... Led it be!)

(Please note that there will be no blog posts in the next two weeks!) 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Monday, 8 August 2017, Pages 396-397

We read as far as "... totam in tutu, ... " (397.32)

If you read carefully, you would be able to recognise that the event described deals with Tristan and Isolde. Or is it HCE - who is after all the guy whose dream world we have entered - and his daughter Issy, about whom he is supposed to have (had?) erotic fancies? Or do the paragraphs we read have to do with the event involving HCE, the two girls and three soldiers in the Phoenix park? Well, let the imagination run riot!

The four old men, rather the four evangelists, make an appearance again in the form of Mamalujo /Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.