(FW) Finnegans Wake: Throwing Whimsey around Like Blazes pp 90.01-90.33



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.]


Pages 90.01 [Beginning of Sentence] -90.33 [End of Paragraph]

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

Campbell and Robinson clarify: There had been a fight? Hey brother battle having to do with the hole in a wall? How have the matter struck him? Like a clap of thunder: Bladyughfoulmoeklenburgwhurawhorascortastrumpapornanennykocksapastippatappatupperstrippuckputtanach? 12 .“You have it alright,” answered the witness.

12  The voice of thunder, this time heard by one of these songs through the noise of his father’s tussle in the Park.


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

William Tindall interprets for our benefit: “The exchange between attorney and witness, like that between Mutt and Jute in their comic strip or between a pair in vaudeville has been at cross–purposes. Communication has been as hard to establish as identity. But the “crossexanimation” [note Joyce’s connection to the comic strip], getting somewhere at last, brings up the three soldiers, the Ginnungagap, and the “two disappointed solictresses” (90.3-16). Marking the end of a cycle, the Ginnungagap prepares us for the thunder that marks both the fall and the beginning of a Viconian cycle. Those two solicitresses, associated with “pox” and “clap,” caused Earwicker’s fall. The fourth thunder, connected with the third (44) by the reference to Persee  O’Reilly, consists of words for whore and dirt of all kinds (90.243-34) [Tindall 88-89].


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 90.01

cowtaw = kneel and touch the ground with the forehead
l.1 Chinese custom of touching ground with forehead as mark of respect

bukser = (Danish) – trousers
l.2 Boxer Rising China 1900
Solasistras = sola (l) – alone + sol (l) – sun → solaris (l) – pertaining to the sun + sistra (l) – metallic rattles used in worship of Isis.
setting odds evens = to make odds even – to equalize or level inequalities, to adjust or do away with differences; to do away with, atone for, remit, or forgive shortcomings and transgressions.
[busker may also refer to songster Percy French as a busker. Any “rebukttles?”]

at defiance = at enemity or hostility
laud = law
Labouriter = ‘The Liberator (of Ireland)’ – designation applied by his followers to Daniel O’Connell + laus laboris (l) – praise of the work.

l.3 Pope Adrian IV’s Bull Laudabiliter granted Ireland to Henry II [thanks for the eye of Tom O’Carroll who spotted an error I introduced here]+ labouring writer; which displeased; Heb tob: good; unplaced: of horses not among 3 first finishers; Sir Charles Dilke: subject of a Victorian divorce scandal (parallel with Parnell)
displace =  to remove or shift from its place; to put out of the proper or usual place.
Tob, Dilke and Halley = Tom, Dick, and Harry – any men taken at random from the common run + Tom, Dick, and Harry – any men taken at random from the common run

changing the venders =  change the venue – Law. to change the place where a jury is summoned to come for the trial of a case + vender – one who sells; a seller; sometimes in restricted sense, a street-seller.

l.6 flag falls at start of horse race; Antepost bets are placed before day when horse runs
as to – as it regards, so far as it concerns, with respect or reference to
pugnaxities = pugnacity – tendency or inclination to fight; quarrelsomeness + pugnax (l) – fond of fighting.
evinxed = evince – to prove by argument or evidence, to make evident or manifest + evinxi (l) – I wound round.
flagfall = the falling or dropping of a flag to indicate the start of a race
antepost – made before racer’s numbers are posted (of a horse racing bet)

l.7 F effroi: terror; beck: stream; Father Time’s backside; Regent’s Park, London
effray = an attack; a disturbance esp. one caused by fighting, a fray
backside = backside [+] the back, the rear; the back premises, back yar
regent = a variety of potato + het regent (Dutch) – it’s raining + regens (Dutch) – rains + [afraid]

l.8 G Morgen:morning
plantsown = plantsoen (Dutch) – park, public gardens
skiddystars = skiddy – likely to skid, treacherously slippery
morkern-windup = morken (Norwegian) – rotten, decayed + wind up – a state of nervous anxiety or fear; a trick or particular joke

l.10 Katty Gallagher: hill near Bray; Mick/Nick; St. Michael’s sword
bettygallaghers = GOLLOGHER – Popular name for the hill over the Ballycorus lead mines, near Enniskerry, County Wicklow + Gallaghers, Betty – two moons, for gealach is Irish “moon, moonlight.”
soords = swords

l.11 Schreck (Ger) = fright; welkin; devil’s fork
wilkinses = welkin – the apparent arch or vault of heaven overhead; the sky, the firmament. Also, in phrases descriptive of loud sounds, as to make the welkin ring, to rend the welkin, etc.
toasting fork = a long handled fork used to toast bread or other food over an open fire; sword, rapier.

l.12 tunny fish’s swimbladder; Gen 1:3  ‘Let there be light’
tunnybladders = tunny – a scombroid fish of the genus Orcynus
[Let there be] fight = Let there be] light

l.13 Du vocht: moisture; Disraeli:’ I am on the side of the angels’; In Norse Eddas the Ginnunga gap is the interval between aeons
Foght = Focht (ger) – (fechten) fencing, swordsmanship, fight
[On the site of the] Angel’s =on the side of the = angels – in favour of a spiritual interpretation (of human nature); more loosely, on the side of right despite the risk of unpopularity.
Guinney’s = Guinness – brand of stout + stop gap – an utterance intended to fill up a gap or an awkward pause in conversation or discourse.

l.15 Midgaard: the Earth in old Norse literature
garth = a small yard or enclosure; a small piece of enclosed ground usu. beside house, used as a yard or garden + Genesis 3:3: ‘But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die’.

solicitress = a female solicitor; a female who entices to immorality [Joyce’s note: ‘Solicitress’].

fort = a fortified place, stronghold + Slattery’s Mounted Foot – Percy French’s song about comic Irish peasant warriors, extravagant in heroic wish, cowardly in act.

l.18 Gamel & Camel: doorkeeper at Tara during the reign of King Nuad
Jah = Jehovah + ja (ger) = ja (Danish) – yes.
Gemellus (l) – “twin”

parfait (fr) = perfect [(notebook 1923): ‘Parfait!’]

obsolute = absolute [+ obtuse]
egregious – distinguished, eminent, excellent, renowned [Note: The Glosses definition is the archaic meaning of the word. The modern meaning might be shocking or horrific]

l.22 D.A. Xhart mentions the Hole in the Wall in Phoenix Park: voter to be bribed put hand in and was given guineas; The Hole in the Wall: pub at CabraGate of Phoenix Park also called Nancy’s Hand
whole in the wall = hole in the wall – any small, obscure place; spec. in the U.S., a place where alcoholic drinks are sold illegally. Applied, esp. attrib., to a business that is very small, mean, dingy, or the like, or to a person running such a business + Chart: The Story of Dublin 319: (of Northern suburbs of Dublin, near Phoenix Park) ‘The district is connected also with the old times of bribery at elections. There is still a place known as “The Hole in the Wall,” where the virtuous elector used to pass his empty hand through an aperture and withdraw it again filled with guineas by some unseen benefactor beyond’.


l.24 s The Man That Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo; Multyfarnham, town, Co. Westmeath
crack – a sudden sharp and loud noise as of something breaking or bursting; a burglar. = [Irish slang for a good time]
to break the bank – to ruin financially, make bankrupt (a person or bank) + Brucke (ger) – bridge.
Multifarnham = Monte Carlo + MULTYFARNHAM (Gael. Muilte Farannain) – “Farannan’s mills”: Village and Franciscan abbey, County Westmeath, North of Mullingar, between Lough Owel and Lough Derravaragh.

to fall in with = to drop into the views of
suppoxed = supposed + pox (Slang) – venereal disease.

l.26 Thomas: Danish invader defeated by Malachy
Thos Thoris, Thomar’s Thom = Nom., Gen., Dat., Acc., Abl. cases (Thos, Thoris, Thori, Thorem, Thore)
TOMAR’S WOOD – At the Battle of Clontarf, the aged Brian Bonu followed the battle from Tomar’s Wood, somewhere to the West of Clontarf, and there was slain +     Tomhar (tor) (geal) – Thor.
rudicist = rhotacism – the process by which in oblique cases of nouns, the -s of the stem passes over, between vowels, into -r- (e.g. flos, floris; Thos, Thoris) (O Hehir, Brendan; Dillon, John M. / A classical lexicon for Finnegans wake).
rotter = one who is objectionable on moral or other grounds
Roebuckdom = roebuck – the male roe deer + ROEBUCK – District and road between Milltown and Mt Merrion, South-East Dublin. Roebuck Lodge, was the home of Maud Gonne MacBride.

Surtopical = sur – – super + topical – of or pertaining to a place or locality; local; of or pertaining to a general heading, a topic or subject of discourse, composition, etc.

ach (ger) = oh
clap (Slang) = venereal disease
Augs and ohrs = eyes and ears + Auge (ger) – eye + Ohr (ger) – ear
Rhian = Rioghan (geal) – “queen”; anglic. Ryan + rhino (Greek) – nose.

O’kehley = O’Ceallaigh (o’kyali) (geal) – descendant of Ceallach (“contention”); anglic. O’ Kelly + Kehle (ger) – throat.

turly pearced our really’s = really and truly + [Pearse O’Reilly or Patrick Pearse]

l.30 L scortum: whore; Gr pornê; Li kekše: whore
Treely and rurally = really and truly
Bladyughfoulmoecklenburgwhurawhorascortastrumpapornanennykocksapastippatappatupperstrippuckputtanach = bloody awful + blyad’ (Russian) – whore + Mecklenburg Street, Dublin (Nighttown) + Hure (ger) – whore + whore + puttana (it) – whore (Swedish) – whore + scrota (l) – pl. of scrotum (harlot, strumpet [?]) + porne (gr) – prostitute + nanny (Slang) – whore + mennykocsapas (Hungarian) – lightning-stroke + kekse (Lithuanian) – whore + stipata (l) – surrounded, pressed together + stripu (Shelta) – whore

END 90.33



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 brief research about the page. These are hardly intended to be academic criticism.]

I inevitably find a reference on every page of The Wake that shakes the delight out of me. Lines 17 and 18 did that job this week. In context they say:

The devoted couple was or were only two disappainted solicitresses on the job of the unfortunate class on Saturn’s mountain fort? That was about it, jah! And Camellus then said to Gemellus: I should know you? Parfaitly. And Gemellus then said to Camellus: Yes, your brother?

The Glosses suggest that Saturn’s mountain fort refers to…

fort – a fortified place, stronghold + Slattery’s Mounted Foot – Percy French’s song about comic Irish peasant warriors, extravagant in heroic wish, cowardly in act.

Bernadette Lowry’s book Sounds of Manymirth on the Night’s Ear Ringing reports about Percy French’s considerable influence on Finnegans Wake. She even whispers that French is HCE. I’m not yet convinced, since I’m compromised enough to think Earwicker is a hero, not a cad. There was bad blood between the Joyces and French, says Bernadette, and Sunny Jim would not let that pass unpunished, so Percy must be the cad. Read the book and decide for yourself, It includes comic lyrics of Slattery’s Mounted Fut including…

This gallant corps was organized by Slattery’s eldest son./
A single-minded poacher with a double-breasted gun;/
And many a head was open’d I, and many an eye was shut,/
When practicing manoeuvres in The Slattery’s Mountain Fut.

On the heels of Percy French, we find mention of the twin guardians of the gates of Tara under Nuad. I know no Camels, but I am acquainted with a Glaswegian Gemel. Martin Gemmell’s stewardship of the keys to Tara might have been rivaled only by the tight fist of Macbeth’s porter.





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