(FW) Finnegans Wake: Throwing Whimsy around Like Blazes pp. 84.28- 85.19



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
  • Tindall’s A Reader’s Guide to Finnegans Wake
  • Combined Lexicon and Occasional 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.]


 The cruise got underway at Book I, Chapter 4, Page 84.28, and docked again at 85.19.


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

Page 84.28- 85.19

The authors provide some assistance: “Now then, worming along gradually in our search for further evidence, we come to the problem of the political leanings and town pursuits of our forebear: (85) (1) As to his Pacific pursuits— (a) he was given to walking or circulating along the public thoroughfares; (b) when mistakenly ambushed, he had been on the brink of taking place upon a public seat by Butt’s Bridge, without intent to annoy: (Campbell and Robinson 87).

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

Tindall offers a similar summary but one that emphasizes different elements: “Now another version of the story: our ‘forebeer,’ having been almost ‘mistakenly ambushed’ in the Park, goes, like Parnell’s Butt to sit on Butt Bridge to think things over. It must have been as clear to him as it is to us that ‘little headway, if any, was made in solving the worlds not to be crime conundrum’ (84.36–85.22). Who is who and who does what, if anything, to whom, remain puzzling questions “(Tindall 87).

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 84.28

Nowthen = Now + [ to continue {in telling a tale}]

ash = the ashen shaft or spear

brass = money in general, cash; Historically: The general name for all alloys of copper with tin or zinc. 

oust – Law. To put out of possession, eject, dispossess; to eject or expel from any place or position + (notebook 1924): ‘ousting of metals by metals’ → Haldane: Daedalus or Science and the Future 31: ‘the production of aluminium from clay… I do not think that even when this is accomplished aluminium will oust iron and steel as they ousted bronze and flint’.

earthborn = born on the earth; of earthly or mortal race, as opposed to angelic or divine + (notebook 1923): ‘Earthborn (terrigenae)’.

rockcrystal = transparent quartz

isinglass – a firm whitish semitransparent substance (being a comparatively pure form of gelatin) obtained from the sounds or airbladders of some fresh-water fishes, esp. the sturgeon.

Wurm (ger) = worm + worm – to move or progress sinuously like a worm; to make one’s way insidiously like a worm into (a person’s confidence, secret affairs, etc.) + [The Edict of Worms declared Luther a heretic]

saving – the action of rescuing or protecting + for one’s sake – on account of one’s interest in, or regard for (a person), out of consideration for. + [except for]

mother water – the liquid left after crystallization, e.g. of sea-salt + moddervater (Dutch) – muddy water + The Encyclopædia Britannica vol. XVI, ‘Lisbon’, 771b: (of the Aqueducto das Aguas Livres) ‘At the Lisbon end of the aqueduct is the Mae d’Agua (i.e. “Mother of Water”), containing a huge stone hall in the midst of which is the reservoir’. + [Anna Livia]

l.31 Dublin stone = Steyne: pillar erected by Vikings in D
Olympiad = a period of four years reckoned from one celebration of the Olympic games to the next, by which the ancient Greeks computed time, the year 776 b.c. being taken as the first year of the first Olympiad; a quadrennial celebration of the ancient Olympic Games.

thuddysickend = thousand
l.32 eleventh dynasty to reach that thuddysickend = 1132
Hamlaugh = Olaf, Danish prince, source of name Hamlet (Humphrey, Olaf, Oliver and Hamlet are all cognates of sorts; Humphrey = Irish, Amhlaoibh = Olaf = Old Norse, Olafr = Oliver; Irish, Amhlaoibh =Latin, Amlethus = French Hamlet).

boney = bony – abounding in bones; having large or prominent bones; big-boned + [Bonaparte]

pierced – punctured, perforated + first

paraflamme = parafuoco (it) – fire-guard + fiamme (it) – flames.

claptrap = language designed to catch applause; cheap showy sentiment. In modern use passing into sense’ nonsense, rubbish’.

fireguard = a protecting wire screen or grating before open fireplace, fender

to crop out = to come out, appear, or disclose itself incidentally + [outcrop = a raised area in a rock formation + a vein as of ore+ a promontory]

politish = politisch (ger) – political

forebeer = father

Dunelli = Dan Donnelly – an Irish champion prizefighter who in 1815 knocked out Cooper, the English champion. His footprints have been preserved somewhere or other in Ireland and his fossilized arm “is one of the major attractions of a Kilcullen hostelry” + el don de dunele (Venetian Italian Dialect) – the gift of women, a Don Juan + O’Donnghaile (o’douneli) (geal) – descendant of Donnghal (“brown-valor”).
l.36 Dunawly (Olaf’s fort) in Clondalkin, Co. D: Dunn, bass at Theatre Royal, D, called himself ‘Dunelli’; Venetial Dial el don de dunele; The gift of women, a Don Juan
thicked = thick – to become thick, thicken

END Page 84



Page 85

burral = (burel) (geal) – bit, jot + burial + lock, stock and barrel – the whole thing (the ‘whole thing’ in question when this phrase originated was a musket: the lock, or flintlock, which is the firing mechanism; the stock, which is the wooden butt-end of the gun; the barrel, i.e. a cylindrical object).

the black of your toenail = by the black of your nail (Anglo-Irish phrase) – only just
l.3 uddahveddahs = other fellows

mam = mom; madam + man + Maamtrasna – a valley in Joyce country, County Galway, and the scene of the murders of five members of a family named Joyce in 1882, for which ten men (five of whom were also called Joyce) were accused, of whom five were sentenced to life imprisonment and three executed (including the apparently-innocent Myles Joyce) after an unsound trial (including withheld documents, suppressed testimonies, etc.), in which the proceedings were carried out in English, while the accused spoke only Irish and their interpreter spoke a Donegal dialect, that at times was almost unintelligible to the accused (written about at length, with quite a few factual errors, in James Joyce’s “Ireland at the Bar”).

kayoed = knocked, knocked out

offhand = at once, straightaway; without previous thought or preparation

l.5 hyougono = Huguenot; Peter the Painter, anarchist, involved in Siege of Sidney St. hence, type of gun
Peter the Painter – Russian anarchist of the early 20th century + Joyce’s note: ‘Peter the Painter’ → Irish Times 2 Dec 1922, 7/8: ‘The attacking party were all armed with Service rifles, and some of them carried “Peter the Painters” and Smith and Wesson revolvers.

imprescriptable – not subject to prescription; that cannot in any circumstances be legally taken away or abandoned.

bellybone = Joyce’s note: ‘bellybone’
chuck = to throw with the hand with little action of the arm; to throw underhand; to toss; prob. at first said of throwing or tossing money, or anything light; now used somewhat playfully or contemptuously of heavy things, as suggesting that they are thrown with ease or contempt.
chum – a habitual companion, an associate, an intimate friend; In Australia: new chum, a fresh immigrant, a ‘greenhorn’; old chum, an old and experienced settler.
chuck and chance it = a derisive phrase used attrib. to describe wet-fly fishing.
umphrohibited = [forbidden by the authority or umpire]
semitary = semita (l) – path
thrufahrts = throughfare – a road, street, lane, or path forming a communication between two other roads or streets, or between two places; a public way unobstructed and open at both ends; esp. a main road or street + Durchfahrt (ger) – thoroughfare, passage.
l.10 to walk = to wit
curb = a massive ornamental fireplace fender + curb (Slang) – thief’s hook.

auxter = oxter – armpit + ULSTER – North province of Ireland. The arms of Ulster are a red right hand (lamh dearg) on a white shield (the arms of the O’Neils). + [The Auxiliaries or Auxies, a paramilitary unit of the Royal Irish Constabulary].
alpenstuch = alpenstock – a long staff pointed with iron, used in climbing the Alps, whence it has passed into general use in mountain climbing.

l..12 Ulster; [highly commendable exercise] = HCE

Acta legitima plebeia (l) – Daily record of the lawful public acts of the common people. Acta at Rome included Acta publica, Acta Senatus, Acta Diurna, Acta Triumphorum but no known Acta L. P. (O Hehir, Brendan; Dillon, John M. / A classical lexicon for Finnegans wake) + legitime (l) – lawful.
l.13 ALP
baulk = balk – to check, hinder, thwart (a person or his action)

to what = to wit

bare = (Danish) – just

Butt’s = BUTT BRIDGE – Aka Swivel Bridge. The last (and East-most) bridge as the Liffey flows except for the Loop Line Railway bridge. Erected 1879; named for the 19th-century politician Isaac Butt. 
l.15 blackpool = Dublin
to go west = of the sun; also fig., to die, perish, disappear + [also newspaperman Horace Greeley’s advice to young Americans]. 

naturlikevice = naturligvis (Danish) – naturally + likewise – in the like or same manner, similarly + [ nature likes vice]
l.16 Da naturliguis: of course

wrathbereaved = bereave – to deprive, rob, strip, dispossess (a person, etc., of a possession; Since 1650 mostly of immaterial possessions, life, hope, etc.) + [funeral wreath]

ringdove = a common European pigeon (Columba palumbus); also called ring-pigeon, wood-pigeon, cushat, or queest.
l. 17 wellbehaved

fearstung = fearstruck – struck with or overwhelmed by fear + (notebook 1924): ‘snake bites out of fear’ → Crawford: Thinking Black 252: ‘For who does not know that a snake never really attacks a man, only bites out of fear, and only because you have stumbled over him in error’ + [fearsome]
l.18 fearstung = fasting

l.19 (notebook 1924): ‘quite pleased at having other people’s weather’

END Paragraph, Page 85.19



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.]

[A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake means to provide an abridged translation of the text. I know nothing about Robinson’s work, but I know Campbell’s well enough. Campbell is what I’ll call a mythological anthropologist. He has a way of bringing modern meaning through millennia. Tindall is like the most insightful Stand-Up Comic. He takes a word or phrase and turns out a new juxta-peculiarity, like “forebeer” or “Butt’s Bridge.” He doesn’t dig around for what is there to expose it; that’s Campbell’s way. Tindall finds possibilities that can’t be proven to be “true”; no comic can prove a joke. WYT discovers artful connections to entertain us with limitless possibilities that live Finnegans Wake.]


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