(FW) Reading Finnegans Wake: Throwin’ Whimsy around Like Blazes, Book I, Ch 4, 77-through 78+



A Key to Pagination


  • Campbell and Robinson’s A Skeleton Key to Finnegan’s Wake
  • Tindall’s A Reader’s Guide to Finnegans Wake
  • Combined Lexicon and Occassional Summaries from Glosses of Finnegans Wake (finwake.com) and Roland McHugh’s Annotations to Finnegans Wake 

100 Words

[Note: My speculation will always appear in brackets so that you can easily ignore it.]


In October 2022, I resumed reading from Finnegans Wake, but independently.  I shoved off on Book I, Chapter 4 on Page 77, continued through Page 78, and concluded the last paragraph, beginning on that page and continuing onto Page 79.


A Key to Pagination

[Page nn-] The page begun at the previous monthly session but not completed.

[Page nn] A full page completed.

[Page nn+] a page with one paragraph completed but the page incomplete.



Campbell and Robinson’s A Skeleton Key to Finnegan’s Wake

Page 77-

We read: “every imaginable gadget of funery bric-brac had then to follow into the prepared grave, enabling that round the worlder (78) to live all safe homely, lethe-lulled between explosion and re-explosion, from giant head to giant foot, embalmed, of grand age, rich in death anticipated (Campbell and Robinson 82).

[The inventory of “coffins, winding sheets, 

goodbuy bierchepes, cinerary urns, liealoud blasses, snuffchests,

poteentubbs, lacrimal vases, hoodendoses, reekwaterbeckers,

breakmiddles, zootzaks for eatlust, including upyourhealthing

rookworst and meathewersoftened forkenpootsies” would remind the reader of the King Tut funereal exhibition.]

Page 78

Then “the Rise after the Fall,” HCE resurrects from Gehenna (Hell). Convinced to succumb by Breedabrooda (the brother killed by Atilla). After three months in a watery grave when a flood ensued causing wars that span centuries, Canada and the United States (82). The wars that follow the death of HCE reflect the brawl at Finnegan’s Wake and the brother battles throughout the book (n4). 

Page 79+

The old fellow may have started a war between Ulster and New South Ireland, mirroring the American Civil War when England sympathized with the American South. These internecine wars are similar to the brother battles too. The impetus of the war in Ireland was the question “Of the Pope or On the Pope?” The trickster cages emaciated HCE into thinking he is his old corpulent form even after his “barmecidal days” of hibernation when he could eat his length in salmon (83).


William York Tindall’s A Reader’s Guide to Finnegans Wake

Page 78

“As ‘hypnos chilia eonion,’ H.C. E. sleeps for a thousand ages as Vico’s cycle of ‘explosion and reexplosion’ proceeds from thunder to thunder.

“Meanwhile the three soldiers (‘ramp, ramp, ramp, the boys are parching’)…

and the Mooske and Gripes wage their civil wars (‘the druiven {Dutch grapes} were muskating’);…

and the Pope fights the anti-Pope. 

Page 79+

“While Earwicker is ‘hibernating,’ the two girls,

“the two girls, ‘gigglibly temptatrix,’ are tempting others, and Swift is writing letters ti Stella, his ‘pettest’ (78.3-79.23).


Glosses of Finnegans Wake (finwake.com)
Roland McHugh’s Annotations to Finnegans Wake [Entries below introduced by line numbers “l n.nn” and italicized]

Page 77-

t’house= thuis (Dutch) – at home (derived from te huis)

cinerary – containing or used for ashes esp. of the cremated dead

blasses=blass (Ger) – pale

snuffchests= snuff box – a box for holding snuff, usually small enough to be carried in the pocket.

poteentubbs= poteen – whisky distilled in Ireland, privately, i.e. the produce of an illicit still

lacrimal vases=lacrimal – Of a vase: Intended to contain tears

hoodendoses = Hoden (Ger) – testicles + Dose (Ger) – box, canister + hoedendoos (Dut…) – hatbox.

reekwaterbeckers= Reichwasser (Ger) – perfume + Becher (Ger) – A large drinking vessel with a wide mouth; an open cup or goblet + riekwater (Flamish slang) – perfume + reukwater (Dut) – scented water, perfume + 

waterbeker (Dut) – water beaker or goblet + bekers (Dutch) – cups.

breakmiddles= Braakmiddel (Dut) – emetic 

zootzaks=zoutzak (Dut) salt-sack; also: milksop, weak-kneed fellow + zoet (Dutch) sweet + soutzoukia (Modern Greek) – smoked sausages.

l.31 eatlust= Du eetlust- appetite

rookworst=Rauchwurst (Ger) – smoked sausage + rookworst (Dutch) – smoked sausage.

meathewer= vleeschhouwer (Dut) – butcher (literally ‘meat-hewer’)

forkenpootsies= forken – forked + varkenpootjes (Dut) – pig’s feet.

javel=a vagabond or worthless fellow; jail; a quantity of stalks of flax, corn, etc. laid in the sun to dry + Javel – A quarter of Paris that “Eau-de-javel” (bleach) is named after + jawel (Dut) – yes, indeed.

inhumationary= inhumation – the action or practice of burying in the ground.

honophreum=Honophreum – the tomb of Honophreus (modeled on Mausoleum (l) – the tomb of king Mausolus).

met these trein= met deze trein (Dut) – with this train + met de trein (Dut) – by train.

halas= alas

wandelingswight=Wandel (Ger) – behavior, change + Wandelung (Ger) – transformation + wandeling (Dut) – a walk, perambulation.

suches pass= ze passen hem (Dut) – they fit him (i.e. the shoes).

Page 78

presenile = Med. Occurring in or characteristic of the period of life preceding old age, esp. the two or three decades immediately before.

lents = post, loan + lente (Dut) – spring. [also suggests resurrection]

lenience = lenient (indisposed to severity, gentle, tolerant) action or behaviour, indulgence.

stuffering= stuffer – a person who stuffs or fills (dead animals or cushions) + stofferig (Dutch) – dusty.

l.3 (hypnos chilia eonion!)= (Grk) sleep for thousands of ages

lethelulled= Lethe – a river in Hades, the water of which produced, in those who drank it, forgetfulness of the past. Hence, the ‘waters of oblivion’ or forgetfulness of the past + lulled – quieted; reduced to calmness.

Donnaurwatteur!=Donnerwetter (Ger) – thunder, thunderstorm, thunderweather.

Hunderthunder!= hunder – hundred + Joyce’s note: ‘Greeks believe thunderbolts form mines’.

grosskopp= gross – massive, big + Kopf (ger) = kop (Dutch) – head.

(end of para 1)

l.7 Zeit= time

[hingeworms= door hinge+ the wormhole drilled to secure the door]

l.9 Gehinnon= (Ger) geh-go+ hinnon- from hence +Gehenna- the underworld

Unterwealth=Unterwelt (Ger) – underworld

sheol= the underworld; the abode of the dead or departed spirits, conceived by the Hebrews as a subterranean region clothed in thick darkness, return from which is impossible.

l.10 sheol= in the Bible usually means the grave, sometimes Hell+ seol im seol= sheol by sheol

Uppercrust=having the characteristics of the highest class of society; the human head; the aristocracy.

l. 11 Uppercrust- Uppercross Barony includes part of Chapelizod

Sideria= sideris (l) – star + siderea (l) – starry, pertaining to constellations.

l. 11 sideria- iron mines+ Siberia

biddenland= bidden – p.p. of bid, arhaic p.p. of bide + binnenland (Dut) – interior (of a country) + in binnenland en buitenland (Dutch) – at home and abroad.

spearway= spur way – a Horse-way through a Man’s Ground, which one may ride in by right of Custom.

spoorway = spoorweg (Dut) – railway, railroad

Abraham’s bosom – the abode of bliss, paradise + FDV: The other spring offensive seems to have been may have come about all quite by accident, though granted, of course [for the sake of argumentmen on both sides had grand ideas. All conditions were drawn into the conflict, some for lack of proper feeding, others already carving honourable careers for themselves and, if emaciated, the person garotted may have suggested whigging or the grand old whig in person the flesh when falsesighted by the wouldbe burglar, a tory of the tories, for there circulated pretty clearl freely the feeling that in so hibernating Earwicker was feeding on his own fat. Kate Strong, a widow, did all the scavenging in from good King Charles’ days but she cleaned sparingly and her statement was that, there being no macadamised sidewalks barring footpaths which left off where the man was struck, at the time in those R J C days she left, as scavengers will, a filth dump near the dogpond in the park on which fossil boot bootmarks, elbowdints, breechbowls, kneecaves, & fingerprints were all successively found of a very involved description. There It was on that resurfaced spot evidently the attacker, though under medium, with truly native pluck tackled him whom he took to be, saying he wd have his life & lay him out & [made use of sacriligeous language &] catching hold of a long bar he had & with which he usually broke furniture. The struggle went on They struggled for a considerable time and in the course of it the masked man said to the other: Let me go, Pat. Later on the same man asked: Was six pounds fifteen taken from you by anyone two or three months ago? There was severe mauling and then a wooden affair in the shape of a revolver fell from the intruder who thereupon became friendly & wanted to know whether his chance companion who had the fender happened to have the change of a ten pound note because, if so, he would pay the six pounds odd out of that for what was lost last summer. The other then said: Would you be surprised to hear that I have not such a thing as the change of a ten pound note but I am able to see my way to give you at for the present four and 7 pence to buy whisky. At the mention of whisky the wouldbe burglar became calm and left the place said he wd go good to him [remarking [gleefully]: You plucky stunning little Southdowner! You have some pluck Southdowner! This is my goalball, I’ve’ struck this day!] He then went away with the four & ______ (seven) and his huribat while the fenderite who bore up under all of it [with a no of bruises on him] reported the occurrence to the [Vicar Streetwatch house, his face being all covered with nonfatal blood as a good proof that he was bleeding from the nose, mouth & ears while some of his hair had been pulled off his head though otherwise his allround health was good middling enough. As regards the fender pierced fender & fireguard the question of unlawfully obtaining is subsidiary to the far more capital point of the political bias of a person who, when mistakenly molested ambushed, was simply exercising one of the most primary liberties of the subject by walking along a public thoroughfare in broad daylight.

Foughtarundser= Vater Unser (ger) – Our Father

Breedabrooda= breed (Dutch) – broad + brood (Dutch) – bread.

l. 15 Attila became king of the Huns after murdering his brother Breda + Atilla means “little father”

septuply – sevenfold

Cian – Irish chief, father of Lug. When his murderers tried to bury him, the ground rejected him seven times + (notebook 1923): ‘C had been 40 yrs in his grave’.  

monad – An ultimate unit of being, an absolutely simple entity. Chiefly used with reference to the philosophy of Leibniz (1646-1716), according to which the universe of existence consists of entities without parts, extension, or figure, and possessing, in infinitely various degrees, the power of perception. Those among these ‘monads’ which have the perceptive power in the higher degrees are souls; the rest are formed in the view of the percipient mind into aggregates, which constitute bodies. The term was adopted by Leibniz from Giordano Bruno (d. 1600), with whom the ‘monad’ has the twofold aspect of a material atom and an ultimate element of psychical existence + Monat (ger) – month.

l. 16 monat also suggests minutes

riding – a festival or pageant marked by a procession

spuitwyne= sweet wine – wine having a sweet taste (as distinguished from dry wine) + spuitwijn (Dutch) – sparkling wine.

pledge – the drinking of a health to a person, party, etc.; a toast

aardappel=Erdapfel (ger) – potato + aardappel (Dutch) – potato.

portrifaction=putrifaction – the action or process of putrefying; the decomposition of animal and vegetable substances, with its attendant unwholesome loathsomeness of smell and appearance; decomposed or putrid matter + porterum facio (l) – to make the fare (for Charon).

dreyfussed= diffused – spread abroad, widespread; dispersed over a large area + drei (ger) – three + Fuss (ger) – foot. [wrongly accused and convicted]

l.20 Dreyfus affair suggests anti-Semitism

ramp=ramp – to trample in triumph; to go about in a loose, immodest way

hoodenwinkle= hoodwink + hoedenwinkel (Dutch) – hat store.

patrizien=Patrizier (ger) – patrician + patrijzen (Dutch) – partridges.

gruntens=grunter – an animal or person that grunts; esp. a pig; a policeman + groenten (Dutch) – vegetables.

druiven=druiven (Dutch) – grapes

l. 27 Vetera= (L) old

Uladh=ULSTER – North province of Ireland. The name is from ancient Uladh or Ulidia, Ir “tomb” + Vetera Uladh (l + gael) – Old Ulster, Ancient Ulster. 

bluemin=BLAALAND – Old Norse name (“Blueland”) for Africa. In the Sagas, Africans (usually Moors) are called “bluemen” + Blumen (ger) – flowers + bloemen (Dutch) – flowers. 

l. 27 Moorish bluemen were captured and taken to Ireland by the Vikings.

Pope=Pope, John (1822-95) – Union general who lost the 2d battle of Bull Run. See Grant.

cons=con – a reason, argument, or arguer against, esp. in pros and cons (reasons for and against) + con (French, Slang) – vulva.

dives – The Latin word for ‘rich (man)’, occurring in the Vulgate, Luke xvi; whence commonly taken as the proper name of the rich man in that parable; and used generically for ‘rich man’.

mor,=mor – humus which forms a discrete layer on top of the soil with little or no mineral soil mixed with it, which is characteristic of coniferous forests and is generally strongly acid in reaction + mor (mor) (gael) – big, great.


Bellona – proper name of the Roman goddess of war; transf. a spirited woman of commanding presence

ohibò! (it) – fie!

Page 79+

ham= take the time off – to use a certain amount of one’s time + ham – town, village, a plot of pasture ground; mawkish sentimentality.

 plain=plain – plan; a level or flat surface (ideal or material)

cirque – any circular space, esp. for games or the like; a circle or ring, of any sort (poetic.)

whiggissimus= Whiggism – principles and polices associated with Whigs + [whig]issimus (l) – whiggest, most whig, superlatively whig. [supporter of parliamentary powers, liberal]

l.3 Swift called Thomas Tickell ‘Whiggissimus’

incarnadined= incarnadine – to dye flesh colored, pink or red, redden + William Shakespeare: Macbeth II.2.61: ‘incarnadine’.

barmecidal = imaginarily satisfying or sumptuous; unreal, illusory + Barmecide’s feast (phrase) – not eating (after The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, vol. I, 343: The Barber’s Tale of his Sixth Brother, a story about make-belief food).

Joyce’s note: ‘taert, young salmon,’

atta – wheaten flour or meal + ait tigh (at’ti) (gael) – house site; anglic. -atta- in place-names.

tarn – the sea bird

great crested brebe= great crested grebe – the name for the largest European species of diving birds of the genus Podiceps or family Podicipedidæ, characterized by a short body, flattened and lobed feet set far behind, and the almost entire absence of tail. [Brebe a return to Brede Attila’s brother].

salmon of his ladderleap = Joyce’s note: ‘salmon ladder’+ Joyce’s note: ‘Salmon Leap’ + Note: Salmon Ladder. See OED. A series of steps to enable salmon to ascend a fall or dam by a succession of leaps. MS 47472-133, ILA: Earwicker ^+, who previous to that semidetached life had been known to eat his own length in rainbow trout,+^ was ^+, like the salmon of his ladderleap,+^ secretly feeding on his own misplaced fat | JJA 46:023 | Dec 1923 |

l.12 Leixlip=salmon Leap

l.12 socage+ land tenure other than by knight-service



100 Words: A few words about the personal exploration of this month’s text
[These entries are somewhat random, thoughts that arise from reading the text and my brief research about the page. These are hardly intended to be academic criticism.]

[HCE accepts that it would be a good time to die. Following his burial among honorary and meaningless, the funereals erupt into warfare, not unlike events in the song “Finnegan’s Wake.” One explanation for the violence is fraternal (Attila became king of the Huns after murdering his brother Breda, like Shem and Shaun in their guises), another is religious (The Moosk and the Gripes), there is a socio-economic battlecry (HCE’s voracious appetite, the depletion of the ocean’s bounty, the connection to Finn MacCool’s prescience, and the Arabian Nights Tale of the Barber and Imaginary Food)), territorial (mor and humus in agrarian matters and circular arenas (cirque) suggesting Viconian repetition and fruitlessness).]

2 thoughts on “(FW) Reading Finnegans Wake: Throwin’ Whimsy around Like Blazes, Book I, Ch 4, 77-through 78+

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