(N) Zoom-in for Insight into the Works of Flannery O’Connor

19 August 2022

[For the past year, we have taken advantage of Zoomed broadcasts from the Andalusia Institute at Georgia College State University in Milledgeville. The program is administered by Dr. Irene Burgess, Executive Director of the institute. Half of the programs or more are fact-laden but informal discussions led by Dr. Marshall Bruce Gentry, a resident authority on the life and works of Flannery O’Connor at her alma mater. By way of introducing you to typical content, the discussion on 18 August included a linking of O’Connor’s story “The Artificial…” to Dante’s Inferno. I share this so you might know that if you are not so versed in Flannery’s cannon, these discussions might still resonate for you. The Fall program is posted for your review. ~Don]

Register for each session individually at


Change of Date Thursday, October 11—7:00 PM (Eastern, virtual): Dr. Alison Staudinger will discuss “Flannery O’Connor and Fascism.”

Thursday, October  27–4:30 and 7:00 PM (Eastern, virtual) : Dr. Bruce Gentry leads discussion on Flannery O’Connor’s “The Lame Shall Enter First.” Sheppard’s plan to save Rufus Johnson with rational support and scientific approaches goes terribly wrong.

November 3: Dr. Doug Davis leads discussion on “Science, Technology, and Flannery O’Connor.

Thursday, November 17—4:30 and 7:00 PM (Eastern, virtual):  Dr. Bruce Gentry leads discussion on Flannery O’Connor’s “A Late Encounter with the Enemy.” Sally Poker Sash learns that perhaps it’s just as well to let her nephew, John Wesley Poker Sash, have his Coca-Cola break when he wants it.

December 8: TBA

(N) The Real Finnegan Named!: Announcing Bernadette Lowry’s Sounds of Manymirth

Bernadette Lowry’s Sounds of Manymirth focuses on the identity of the singular Finnegan among the cosmic Finnegans. Ms. Lowry finds incontrovertible evidence that Percy French (1854-1920) is Finnegan (HCE). French was famous and a celebrity in JJ’s youth and only left Dublin in 1900 when Joyce was 18. He was also a recognised literary figure. French died suddenly in Liverpool of heart failure in Jan 1920 and Lowry found for the first time a reference to that on page 74 of Finnegans Wake as a reference to the demise of giant Finn. Joyce celebrated it with two of Moore’s melodies and French parodied loads of them mainly in The Jarvey a comic weekly paper French edited at the high point in Parnell’s reign and leading into the split in the Irish Parliamentary Party. Beyond that, just after printing Lowry unscrambled Bussoftlhee in the last three lines of FW as Buss of Ethel. Ethel was French’s tragic first wife who died aged 20 and she contributed two weekly gossip columns to The Jarvey and beautiful drawings. Ms. Lowry also found reams of The Jarvey in FW and reams of French’s lesser known works heretofore undetected. So French has to be the singular Finnegan. 


You can find a review of Sounds of Manymirth at IrishCentral.com 

https://www.irishcentral.com/opinion/finnegans-wake-who-finnegan-was-based-on?fbclid=IwAR27wE5KkC_rpzLjoQgNJhrKyxe0Dl4G-E_js5rfQRDexvmfoYPuK0-RH5Y ]

The book can be purchased by contacting carmeneblana@gmail.com. ~Don

(U) Ulysses, “Cyclops,” Episode 12~pp 287-339.

copyright (c) don ward 2020


Episode References from Stuart Gilbert’s James Joyce’s Ulysses

  • Title: Cyclops
  • Scene: The Tavern
  • Time: 5 p.m.
  • Organ: Muscle
  • Art: Politics
  • Colour: (none)
  • Symbol: Fenian
  • Technic: Gigantism

   A Few Favorite, Squinting Quotes among Many

—Who made those allegations? says Alf.

— I, says Joe. I’m the alligator.


—Arrah, give over your bloody codding, Joe, says I. I’ve a thirst on me I wouldn’t sell for half a crown.

The wisdom of Joe Hynes


Ah! Ow! Don’t be talking! I was blue mouldy for the want of that pint. Declare to God I could hear it hit the pit of my stomach with a click.


—Mind, Joe, says I. Show us the entrance out.

The "I" has it.


—Maybe so, says Joe. They took the liberty of burying him this morning anyhow.

On the sighting, post-requiem, of Paddy Dignam

—Was it you did it, Alf? says Joe. The truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth, so help you Jimmy Johnson.
—Me? says Alf. Don’t cast your nasturtiums on my character.

Bergen denies being U.P. to no good.

What’s Important?

The attached WordCloud created courtesy of WordCloud.com shows the incidence of important words appearing in the post about this episode. Frequency may signify importance.

copyright(c)don ward 2020

(FW) Finnegans Wake – Boaters and Sifters (September 2022) Book I, Chapter 4, Page 76+

[My speculation, unsupported by expert commentary, will always appear in brackets so that you can easily ignore it.]

Boaters’ Log: The current position of the crew in navigating ALP

The September reading from Finnegans Wake by BloomsdayMontreal’s cadre of Boaters and Sifters shoved off into Book I, Chapter 4 on Page 76 and concluded the last paragraph, beginning on that page and continuing onto Page 77. [See my unhappy note in 100 Words at the end of this document.]


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

Page 76

The introduction of a criminal caste is to incorporate amateur delinquency into an industry benefiting “the general economy of the state” (Campbell and Robinson 81). The phrase “much desultory delinquency” was omitted in an apparent printer’s error from the copy published in transition (Paris, July, 1927, p.47).

“Lough Neagh pattern”- The grave site is much more than a plot. There are woods, “dear dirty deeps” [Dublin], a knoll [Howth?], and a trout stream [The Liffey?] . The name Lough Neath given to the large lake in Northern Ireland, means “Lake of Healing” (81n3). [This may predict resurrection.]

Page 77

After Building the “mole’s paradise” [using the most violent methods], the Master Builder retired to London and his Castle Villainous.

William York Tindall’s A Reader’s Guide to Finnegans Wake, Page 85:

Page 76

The coffin must be watertight because “E.C.H.” is buried in Lough Neagh, Isaac Walton’s fishing haunt, or in the Danube are all A.L.P.’s “sillying water.” “Maateskippey” has nautical suggestions [mate and skipper]. Tindall asks, “Is there a leak in the dike?” and points out that “limniphobes” uses Greek to construe those afraid of pools.

Page 77

The Masterbuilder’s “phallopharos,” the lighthouse of Alexandria, is also a fertility totem but might have been intended to attract tourists.

Mgr Peurelachasse’s “retirement” to that famous Parisian cemetery may include internments in the Tower of London and Dublin Castle. Tindall interprets “falsemeaning adamelegy” as a warning about misdirections: “Our minds are diverted from Adam to Abraham by ‘MacPelah,’….”

Isaac Walton’s angling is featured, Tindall thinks, to lift the mood of the “funebral pomp.” He suggests that might be Eliot’s intention with “Burial of the Dead” and adds that “Joyce always has Eliot in mind” as he writes The Wake. 

[I speculate whether the fishing theme also suggests Finn MacCool’s gift of prophecy gained by eating the salmon, which in turn had eaten the magical hazel nuts.]


Glosses of Finnegans Wake (finwake.com)


Roland McHugh’s Annotations to Finnegans Wake [Entries below also italicized and identified by line numbers from the text.]

Page 76

teak – a large East Indian tree; more usually, its timber, a dark, heavy, oily wood of great strength and durability + FDV: The coffin was to come in handy later & in this way. A number of public bodies presented him made him a present of a grave which nobody had been able to dig much less to occupy, it being all rock. This he blasted and then carefully lined the result with bricks & mortar, encouraging the public bodies to present him over & above that with a stone slab [Is this Newmarket?]

near the [near – to draw or come near, to approach (in place or time) + naar de (Dutch) – to the….]

porpus, [corpus – the body of a man or animal + purpose]

committee – a body of (two or more) persons appointed or elected (by a society, corporation, public meeting, etc.) for some special business or function + Joyce’s note: ‘Select & other committees’ + FDV: A number of public bodies presented him made him a present of a grave which nobody had been able to dig much less to occupy, it being all rock.

l 14 thinghowe- Howe is the hill in D[ublin] upon which Norse Thingmote was held. howe: hill, tumulus

kootrz -court order – a direction issued by a court or judge, usu. requiring a person to do or refrain from doing something; a decision of a court or judge, made or entered in writing + kurz (ger) – short + koorts (Dutch) – fever.

grondwet (Dutch) – constitution (of the country)

plotty – marked by intricacy of plot or intrigue; Also, of a novel, play, or the like: having an elaborate or complicated plot.

a forescut- afore said – earlier in time or order, previously in document + voorschot (Dutch) – overdraft, disbursement, advance payment (on loan) + voorschoot (Dutch) – (butcher’s) apron + schoot (Dutch) – lap, womb (of time), bosom (of the Church). [also possibly a circumcision]

maateskippey– maatschappij (Dutch) – company, corporation, society, community + maat (Dutch) – measure, size, metre, bar (in music); mate, partner + scheepsmaat, scheepsmaatje (Dutch) – ship mate + kip (Dutch) – hen + ei (Dutch) – egg.

MOYELTA – The plain running North and North-East from Dublin was anciently called the Sean Magh Ealta Eadair, the “Old Plain of the Bird Flocks of Howth.” Moyelta is recorded as the site of Parthalon’s settlement.

l 20 Magh Elta (Moyelta) plain in D region (city supposed to lie beneath Lough Neagh) where Parthalonians died of plague & were buried

misoneism – intolerance of something new or changed + misos (gr) – hatred + nesos (gr) – island + misonesiotai (gr) – island-haters, hate-islanders (O Hehir, Brendan; Dillon, John M. / A classical lexicon for Finnegans wake).

l 22 (almost no islands on Isle of Man)

wacht – to drink in large draughts + Wacht (ger) – guard; awake + wacht even (Dutch) – wait a minute!

l 25 old knoll- Old Nol, nickmane of Cromwell

[osier- basket (Fr.)]

ongle- ogle – to eye with amorous, admiring, or insinuating glances + angle

Quilt gild- quilt – a thick covering + song The Quilt (Oh Molly, I can’t say you’re honest): ‘May the quilt lie light on your beautiful form’.

to gild over – to cover with gilding, so as to conceal defects

somnolulutent– somnolent – inclined to sleep; heavy with sleep; drowsy + somnolentus (l) – sleepy, drowsy + lutensis (l) – living in mud.

l 34 foster wheat crops- John Foster’s Corn Law, 1784, imposed heavy duties on its importation into Ireland.

Mgr Peurelachasse– PERE LACHAISE CEMETERY – In East Paris; Oscar Wilde is buried there, among many other notables + peur (fr) – fear + chasse (fr) – hunting.

Page 77

misterbilder- master builder – a person notably proficient in the art of building + FDV: This he blasted and then carefully lined the result with bricks & mortar, encouraging the public bodies to present him over & above that with a stone slab.

Sowan and – Samhain (souwen) (gael) – November; Feast of the dead; close of the harvest, beginning of winter half-year.

Belting,- Bealtaine (byoultini) (gael) – May; May Day; Spring Festival; close of winter, beginning of summer half-year.

aerial torpedo – torpedo dropped from an aircraft + (notebook 1923): ‘convert torpedos into electrical contact land mines by tins of ammonia, lashed to sides of aerial torpedoes trip wiring to contact pieces into electric batteries’ (‘pieces’ not clear).

Oorlog- orologios (gr) – clock + oorlog (Dutch) – war + horologe (French) – clock.

Ryan vogt- Ryan, John – last bailiff of Dublin; title afterward changed to sheriff + an rioghan bhocht (un rien vukht) (gael) – the poor queen: Ireland.

instep – the arched midle portion of foot + instappen, als ‘t u belieft (Dutch) – get in, please!, take your seats, please! all aboard, please! + liefde (Dutch) – love + This harks back to entering the Wellington museum in the first chapter.

alls- if you please

hoofd off-dealings- it. Abteilungen (ger) – compartments, departments + Hof (ger) – court + Hoofdafdeling (Dutch) – principal section, division or department (such as a phylum in biology) + hoofd (Dutch) – head + afdeeling (Dutch) – department.

ladykants te huur out– ladykind – ladies + konnt’s d’Uhr (ger) – could you [tell me] the time + Ledikants te huur (Dutch) – Beds for hire + ledikant (Dutch) – bed, bedstead + te huur (Dutch) – for hire, to let.

to hear out – to listen to to the end + Hure (ger) – whore.

a.u.c. (l) – anno urbis conditae or ab urbe condita = in the year of the founded city or since the city was founded (designation of Roman-era years, reckoned from 753 B.C.) (O Hehir, Brendan; Dillon, John M. / A classical lexicon for Finnegans Wake).

Mac Pelah– CAVE OF MACHPELAH – According to Genesis 25:9 and 50:13, the burial place of Abraham, and also of Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, and Leah. 

l 25 Abraham purchased the cave of Machpelah for family tomb (Gen 23:9, 19)

gehellt (ger) – illuminated + geheel (Dutch) – whole, entire; entirely, completely; a whole + geheeld (Dutch) – healed, cured.

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 and if any of the ideas here have been proposed elsewhere I apologize in advance. It isn’t larceny but ignorance that could lead me to repeat the ideas.]

Did not attend.

(FW) about Finnegans Wake, Book I, Chapter 4 Page 75+

[This format may is mostly mature. An additional source, Roland McHugh’s Annotations to Finnegans Wake will be added next month when recording what I found about Page 76.] 

Boaters’ Log: The current position of the crew navigating ALP

The July reading from Finnegans Wake by BloomsdayMontreal’s cadre of Boaters and Sifters kicked off Book I, Chapter 4 on Page 75 and concluded the last paragraph, beginning on that page and continuing through about one-quarter of Page 76.


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

Page 75 reveals the caged lion “bedreaming” about about two “lilyliliths undeveiled.” HCE’s misdeed might be due to age or treachery, or it might be mischief resulting from the disfavor of the corn goddess, Ysit. Finally, he might need punishment because he had dared to pray that the wordwounder sire a caste of black-faced delinquents. Campbell and Robinson suggest in their footnote 81n1 that Earwicker’s “three and a hell of hours” associates him with Christ’s passion.

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

Tindall prepares us for Chapter IV’s six strophes. He explains that Joyce omits transition between strophes to aid the intensity of shifts. The six elements will be an introduction (75-76), a meditation on death (76-80), more about the Cad (81-86), the trial(86-96), a fox hunt and flight (96-101), and a hymn to ALP (101-02). WYT notes the mention of Earwicker’s children, “Ysit? shamed and shone” and explains that…

Insurance companies are no more help than Mountjoy jail (75.19- 76.4-.5) where such criminals as ‘Ham’s cribcracking yeggs’ (H.C. E. himself as fender, ham, and eggs, Humpty Dumpty, and Noah’s son) are put away. (Tindall 84-85)

On these pages, predictions appear for “the calm judgment of the world” (Securus iudicat orbis terrarum) and “the rise from sin” (Dublin’s motto- Obedientia civium urbis felicitas). The first of these Latin quotes is attributed to St. Augustine and will appear five more times in The Wake.


Glosses of Finnegans Wake (finwake.com)

This month we will add a few selected glossary notes from finwake.com.

Page 75

aryuz (Armenian) – lion + Sirius

aryun (Armenian) – blood + Orion

Isis Unveiled – first major work of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. In this book she criticized the science and religion of her day and asserted that mystical experience and doctrine were the means to attain true spiritual insight and authority.

zijn (Dutch) – two meanings: 1) To be 2) His. “Zijn zijn”: his being + (onomat.) + we zijn (Dutch) – we are.

insight – the fact of penetrating with the eyes of the understanding into the inner character or hidden nature of things; a glimpse or view beneath the surface + FDV: With deepseeing insight he may have prayed in silence that his wordwounder might become the first of a long distinguished dinasty his most cherished idea being a formation, as in more favoured climes, of a truly criminal class, thereby eliminating much general delinquency from all classes & masses.

seamanna (shamena) (gael) – quotations, sophistries, rigmarole + Let’s say that “shaman” was a word. If it does come from the word “saman” (exalted), it describes a state of consciousness, not a role. The whole idea of Shaman culture is to be able to connect with the Divine through ecstasy.

Tobit – Apocryphal book. Tobit was blind and saw again + toe bout a peer = to peer about + toegift (Dutch) – makeweight, extra + toe! (Dutch) – please! + bout (Dutch) – bolt, leg of animal or bird considered as a joint for the table, drumstick.

Page 76

nash – soft, tender, gentle; to go away, quit + Nash, Thomas (1567-1601) – English poet, playwright, pamphleteer. Wyndham Lewis, meaning to be uncomplimentary, compared the opening of “Shem the Penman” to Nash and said Joyce and Nash met on the common ground of Rabelais + nahash (Hebrew) – “serpent”.

from / the oppidump much desultory delinquency from / all classes and masses… (The Finnegans Wake printer preparing the galley proofs haplographically jumps from the word “from” to the word “from” in the next line, thereby eliminating “from the oppidump much desultory delinquency” and leaving the final part of the sentence without an object. Already in 1944, in their Skeleton Key, Campbell & Robinson noticed the difference between the transition text of Work in Progress and the sentence in Finnegans Wake. The passage is already there in the very first draft, so can’t be ignored as if it were a relatively late, obscure and not very important embellishment, it is an essential part of the narrative which is unfolding.) (Robbert-Jan Henkes, 18.05.2002)


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 and if any of the ideas here have been proposed elsewhere I apologize in advance. It isn’t larceny but ignorance that could lead me to repeat ideas.]

…Reading from the text and from Campbell and Robinson brought me to waking one pre-dawn thinking about a few words they unpack: “bedreaming” and two “lilyliliths undeveiled.””Bedreaming,” can simply be the phenomenon of symbolized nightly human psychosis. It could also be “bed-reaming” or boring down into the dream. “Lilyliliths” might be easier. The two temptresses are concubines, in lore, either before Eve (Adam’s first, pre-human wife) or his mistress (past Eve and Adam”s). She is evil, the patroness of infanticide, and jealous of the human family nuclear and extended. “Undevelied” might un-devil or humanize their appearance. In Purgatorio, Beatrice is covered by a veil when Dante first sees her. Her glorified beauty is too great to behold all in a single moment. The liliths must be un-de-viled or re-veiled, their natures are so horrible. The lily is also the symbol of death, putrid and rotting. The contrast between the temptress and the hideous decay of (is it Donatiello’s?) statue of Mary Magdeleine (forever scarred by sin but repenent and redeemed) is notable ….

(N) “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, Volume III—1922 is now available!

The blog postings about 1922, 100 years ago, continue here. But now you can skip ahead to the end of this landmark year with “Such Friends”:  The Literary 1920s, Volume III—1922 available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk in both print and e-book formats.

Cover design by Lisa Thomson

Bookended by the publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses in February, and T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land in the autumn, 1922 is often thought of as, not just the most important year in “the literary 1920s,” but the most important year in modernism.

For this reason, Volume III is 30% longer than the first two volumes—almost 130 vignettes full of great gossip about your favorite writers. There’s a beheading, a public suicide, and….

(U) Ulysses, “Sirens,” Episode 11~pp 252-86.

copyright (c) don ward 2020

Episode References from Stuart Gilbert’s James Joyce’s Ulysses.

  • Title: Sirens
  • Scene: The Concert Room
  • Time: 4 p.m.
  • Organ: Ear
  • Art: Music
  • Colour: (none)
  • Symbol: Barmaids
  • Technic: Fuga per canonem

Lyrical quotes among many favorites

I carried wax along the line and laid it 
thick on their ears. They tried me up, then, plumb
amidships, back to the mast, lashed to the mast,
and took themselves again to rowing.
Odysseus renders his crew deaf protecting them from the deadly lure of
the Sirens. In the Ormond, only deaf Pat is immune to the Sirens' song.
"Bald Pat at a sign drew nigh. A pen and ink. He went. A pad. He went. 
A pad to blot. He heard, deaf Pat."
Pat percusses the hoofbeat of the carriage nag.
"Tenors get women by the score."
A musical score drives the organization of the episode, and tenors, 

What’s Important?

The attached WordCloud created courtesy of WordCloud.com shows the incidence of important words appearing in the post about this episode. Frequency may signify importance.

copyright @ don ward, 2020

(FW) about Finnegans Wake Page 74 with Boaters and Sifters

Two months ago, I fell in behind the frothy monthly readings of Finnegans Wake by the Boaters and Sifters of Montréal. Now, I am an ancient fellow and will surely not survive to see this flow return to its …riverrun. I’ve read The Wake twice before. I like to think I understood fifteen percent of Joyce’s Night Book, but I might be inflating that estimate. I tread water like a channel swimmer– alone and half the time in inky darkness. 

The first time I dipped a toe in FW was in 1990. I used Campbell and Robinson’s A Skeleton Key to Finnegan’s Wake to keep afloat. It’s a narrative overview that halves the page count but also truncates the fun. It couldn’t be helped; even dipping a toe, I was beyond my depth. If you know other works by Joseph Campbell, you may appreciate that he does something with mythology not found anywhere among Joyceana. I’d call him an anthropological mythologist who ferments and foments magical liquors. If you read Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces or Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine, you might agree that Campbell connected ancient myths to modern ones better than anyone. The Skeleton Key was an excellent way to enter the stream.

Sometime about 2006, I returned to the book. This time I dove a little deeper using Glosses of Finnegans Wake by James Joyce. This online format sometimes offers several options for breaking apart the possible interpretations of the many puns and portmanteaus. Occasionally, finwake.com transposes cryptic text into plain English summaries. Often, it offers translations of the sixty languages of The Wake or the decomposition of invented words and portmanteaus. After finishing this second lap, I was given a copy of William York Tindall’s A Reader’s Guide to Finnegans Wake. Tindall offers a bit of both summary and “translation.” His insights are most revealing, but neither his summary nor his unpacking is comprehensive. I am left with a superficial appreciation of the text, enough ken to know what I am missing.

When I decided to draft in the “Wake” of BloomsdayMontreal’s Boaters and Sifters, the group had navigated to page 74 (the last page of Book I, Chapter 3) by reading together once monthly. I thought that would be a place to join since I believed anywhere I’d begin reading would be in the middle of the tale. I am superannuated, so I began with the understanding that I would run out of breath before Boaters and Sifters turned all the pages. I’ve enjoyed about two and a half pages of improved understanding in two months. That’s delightful enough, for in ten years, with luck, I’ll be ten years older whether or not I have enjoyed another 150 pages of the book. Meanwhile, this is truly fun. Reading among a group has given me access to native speakers’ understanding of languages and to perspectives that would have escaped me. Not understanding German or Dutch in context, I now have expert help. Another reader was working hard to understand the reference of pronouns within the text and punctuation. This also became most useful in my reading.

I’ll give examples of the information I’ll be providing in these monthly reports. Today, I’ll draw samples from Campbell and Robinson and Tindall. In August, I again began using finwake.com (The Glosses). Later this month, I’ll write about our reading of page 75. I’ll add The Glosses to that report. In September, I’ll add Roland MacHugh’s Annotations to Finnegans Wake using the copy delivered a few days ago. This is provided for those who might be considering reading alone (alas) or “along the riverrun.” 

When I write about the group discussions, I’ll respect the anonymity of participants except my own and MasterBuilder Kevin Wright’s whose fame is honored on the Festival Bloomsday Montréal website and deservedly so. For now, here’s my first mouthful of river bilge.

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

Page 74 is not specifically mentioned, but the following is a sampling of the narrative analysis: 

“It must now be noted that the officer of the peace, John Lally Tompkins (63, 67) has a good deal of HCE about him, and that the unsolicited American (70–73) is simply not distinguished from HCE throughout the last parrot three paragraphs of the chapter. The continental reporter too (69–70) is but a chip from the old tree. In short, the antagonists are the two sides of a one-same power of nature. And we soon shall see, they are ‘polarized for reunion by the symphysis of their antipathies” (92). [This is quoted from Campbell and Robinson, page 80.]

Tindall’s A Reader’s Guide to Finnegans Wake:


From the summary, “A meditation on rocks, clouds, children, and history leads to a hopeful conclusion: We will wake after sleep; the heroes will return; there will be an Easter rising, “some Finn, some Finn avant! Did you think me dead? Dramatic changes of rhythm, sound, and tone on the last page (74) lead to a suitable diminuendo” [Tindall 79]. 

Notes 74.7-8 “‘Add some’ or adsum, here I am, is what Abraham said to God, Genesis, 22: 1. ‘Mene credisti mortuum?’ is Finnegan’s question at his wake, ‘Did you think me dead?’ CF 24.15, ‘Did you drink me doornail?'” [Tindall 82]. 

Happy boating.

(Da) Homer, Dante, Joyce: Ontology, Heroes, and Hell

Novels require protagonists who grow from this to that. The development of the novel from epic poetry also required a “becoming.’ The epic hero conforms to customs and rituals to overcome obstacles; the modern hero develops new standards of ethics and behavior. This is the essential difference between Homer’s Odysseus and Joyce’s Bloom. In the epic, the hero struggles, but the struggle doesn’t demand development by the hero, knowledge, but not character development.

Homer’s Odysseus emerged after twenty years of trials as the same duplicitous, philandering opportunist who feigned madness to avoid military service. He may temper the brashness that prompted him to claim his victory over the cyclopes by giving his true name, but Odysseus’ hubris is no less real. Tactically, he becomes less vocal in defiance of the gods. Legends about Odysseus end with his defiance of the gods. He sailed to the land of the dead and drowned as a sailor might. Odysseus, as he first appears, is already a departure from earlier Greek heroes. The onset of the Bronze Age introduced lighter weaponry, and the heroes who emerged, led by the Ithacan, became not gigantic or brutishly powerful like Ajax the Greater. Odysseus represented the emergence of the skilled, deft, thinking hero. He appears in the stories already possessing these qualities and does not develop them in response to his trials. 

Modern traveler Leopold Bloom is a timid man. Bloom suffers the pain of betrayal and is deprived of lineage by the loss of both son and father. This leaves him without a past or posterity. He is ostracized without real cause by citizens of his polis. Finally, his sexual behavior shames him. By the novel’s conclusion, if Ulysses is indeed a novel, if indeed it has a conclusion, he has found a way to reconcile Molly’s infidelity with their mutual, atypical devotion. Poldy has found and nurtured an artistic offspring in Stephen. The voices on Dublin Streets acknowledge an ambivalent respect for Mr. Bloom as the novel proceeds. M’Coy cedes,      “—He’s a cultured allroundman, Bloom is, he said seriously. He’s not one of your common or garden… you know… There’s a touch of the artist about old Bloom.” John Wyze credits Bloom with the idea for Sinn Fein. Finally, Bloom accepts himself as the “womanly man.” Mr. Bloom balances comforting of widows, caring for beasts, and tending to family. Meanwhile, he accepts his weaknesses, perversions, peculiarities, and eccentricities.

The bridge between Odysseus and Bloom comes courtesy of Dante. Dante, the character rather than the poet, develops a refined spiritual awareness in traveling through the realms of the dead. The voyage through the afterlife is a feature of all three masterpieces. Joyce’s hope-filled Bloom is the counterpart to Dante’s noble but hopeless Virgil, condemned to “Hell” as an unredeemed, noble pagan. Unlike Virgil, Bloom can invent his own salvation through Modernism. Poet Dante allows Virgil’s eternal fate to stand unaltered. The Dead Latin’s fate is sealed, but the Quick Florentine’s redemption is underway. Character Dante confesses to avarice, but the Poet reserves an artistic vanity and gluttonous revenge.

Joyce doubtless used Dante as a substructure in writing Ulysses. Purgatorio, Canto XXV, is set in the ring of the lustful and includes a description of the creation of human bodies and souls. It also anticipates the idea of evolution in the cessation of development by less perfect life forms. Dante begins the canto with astrological references. ” It was no hour for hobbling our ascent,/ for to the Bull the sun had left noonday/.”

The sinners here have abused procreation. Some are lecherous heterosexuals; others are sodomites. In Ulysses, “Oxen of the Sun,” Bloom guides Stephen through a cavalcade of carousing medical sinners who verbally abuse women, blaspheme against motherhood and the Virgin Mary, and recommend abortion, eugenic engineering, and Malthusian measures for population control. The Bull Taurus in Dante is a celestial marker but is also a symbol of fertility and the command to “Go forth and multiply.” From the opening episode of Ulysses, bulls and beef stock are symbols of fertility and the Slaughter of the Innocents. In Homer, Zeus destroys Odysseus’ crew after they slaughter the oxen sacred to Helios.

Having used Taurus, Dante immediately proceeds to symbolize the punishment of the now penitent lechers with the astrological symbolism of the scorpion’s sting. In Joyce, Bloom has recently been beestung. The symbolism has a dual significance. Like Dante’s sinners, Bloom is punished for his sins against fertility. He has been physically capable but emotionally unable to have sex with Molly since their son’s death nearly eleven years ago. He is guilty of Onan’s sin. The sting, however, also represents Bloom’s fertilization as the blossoming of the new and modern man.

Finally, Dante describes the body as an empty depiction of the soul: “And if you think that when you make a dash/ your image in the mirror dashes too,/ what once was hard will soon as soft as ash./” The deception of mirrors is also a recurring theme in Ulysses, like the deceptions of mirrors in the “Wandering Rocks” episode and the distortion of “the cracked looking glass of a servant” in the novel’s opening pages. Homeric failure of the senses is usually through deception by the gods or the clouding of the human eye. The invention of the gods is human self-deception perfected.

Homeric epic, Medieval transition, Modernist novel.  The long literary form morphs like the fetus. Initially, shaped by a chaotic Homeric world, the epic is ruled by arbitrary and selfish gods. The medieval epic emerges in a world dictated by the unbending ethos of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, and finally becomes an utterly personal, flexible, and perhaps recursively chaotic Modernist form where any standard (or no standard) is equally acceptable without controls beyond the exercise of one human will, beestung or not.

(N) Good News around The Circle

In the past, we have maintained a static catalog of topical websites, reviews, etc. No matter how interesting the content, items become less compelling as they collect vintage. To give our “newsy” list more immediacy for our “literate one thousand” and more useful for those members who are writing, publishing, and producing products, today we begin a new format.  Collect items that are newsworthy —or that were newsworthy in 1922— will showcase prominently for a month before archiving. Post a Comment, email, or Direct Message me to begin the process of announcing your event, your publication, or your production. Expect about 150 to 200-word announcements. Photos will also be welcomed.~Don


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