26th June 2015

In our final seminar before the summer break, we recapped the second half of the short speech we’d looked at in the previous seminar (530.36-531.26) before moving onto 531.27-532.5. This section we did twice – once fast, once slow.

530.36-531.26

Having already looked at this in our May seminar, we spent just a few minutes discussing some initial observations, identifying particular words of interest and larger themes:

  • The sound and rhythm of the final few lines (‘cluckclock lucklock quamquam camcam potapot panapan kickakickkack’). Are these meant to be onomatopoeic? What do they offer the scene? They appear to compliment the musicality of the section – particularly, the can-can high kicking performance mode. The sense of a performance, we thought, is further compounded by Kate’s detailed references to her clothing.
  • We also commented on how the second half of this speech moves away from its anti-clerical position at the start, to incorporate Circean elements and a particularly French sensuality. ‘Balay’, for example, meaning not only to sweep (Kate as domestic help) but also ‘sweep me up’, in the romantic sense.
  • Dancing was another theme we identified. We compared the dancing of this passage to other examples in Joyce’s works, thinking of Stephen ‘Circe’ and the quadrille in ‘The Dead’.
  • ‘my new toulong touloosies’ also kept us busy. We tried to identify the possible significance of Toulouse Lautrec for Joyce: how would he have come across the artist?; would T-L be, perhaps, a little passé by the time of this section’s composition? We did identify the reference to the artist as being very much of the 1890’s, nonetheless.

After this quick run-though, we moved onto a first reading of 531.27-532.5 (which has the mood of Matthew, somewhat pushy and aggressive, though we struggled to hear the Ulster), again identifying those elements that immediately leapt out at us. We then read again, on a word-by-word basis.

‘Sponsor programme and close down’

We discussed at length the fact of radio programmes being sponsored in the 1920s and 1930s. We learned that commercial radio in Ireland had been banned until 1989, but despite this there had been a proliferation of pirate radio stations broadcasting too. The ‘close down’ refers to the radio broadcast ending at midnight, but perhaps also works here as a police command, with one of the MaMaLuJo reprimanding Kate for her excessive frivolity in the courtroom.

‘the holy child of Coole’

The Yeats allusions throughout the passage also caught our attention. These include ‘the holy child of Coole’, the reference to masks, and ‘his livings that havebeen deeds’. With regard to this final citation, we recalled the poems that Yeats wrote in memory of Lady Gregory’s son, Robert Gregory, killed in WW1 (“An Irish Airman Foresees His Death,” “In Memory of Major Robert Gregory,” and “Shepherd and Goatherd).

‘His thoughts that wouldbe words, his livings that havebeen deeds’

The second half of this line particularly caught our attention. We noted a property theme running through here (unidentified, we think, by either MacHugh or Fweet). While the line further alludes to Yeats and his relationship with landlady Gregory, it perhaps also acts as yet another introduction for the soon-to-arrive HCE, characterised in the Wake as a city founder (‘Amtsadam’ as a site built into a modern city).

‘the jousters of the king’

Joyce also alludes to another Irish writer, Wilde. In particular, we though the line ‘the jousters of the king’ was a reference by Joyce to his own earlier essay on Wilde, ‘Oscar Wilde: the poet of Salomé’ [1909] in which Joyce refers to Wilde ‘court jester to the English’ (a position he notes Sheridan, Goldsmith and Bernard Shaw also occupied). We briefly commented on the fact of HCE and Wilde often overlapping in the Wake.

 

 ‘the Carri-son old gang’

Another (related) individual we identified in the passage was Sir Edward Carson. A Dubliner, we noted his role in the Wilde trial (particularly his accusation that Wilde was a ‘posing somdomite’), and the conflation of his name with ‘garrison’.

 

‘from Terreterry’s Hole to Stutterers’ Corner’

This line led to an extended discussion on this section’s allusions to Partition. While ‘hole’ is a nice punning opposite to ‘whole’, we couldn’t work out ‘Stutterers’ Corner’. Obviously an allusion to Hyde Park’s ‘Speaking Corner’, we wondered if this was a joke regarding a conceit of freedom of expression in post-1922 Ireland. HCE, we recalled, also has a stutter. With Partition in mind, we discussed ‘the final ballot, to remove all doubt’ – noting that in real life, the ballot 1937 of course led to great doubt over Ireland’s future, not actually removing all doubt. (And on doubt itself, we recalled Joyce’s line from earlier in his career, ‘my intensely doubting soul’).

On the matter of ‘territory’ in particular, we recalled King Lear’s decision to divide up his land (unsuccessfully!). With King Lear in our minds, we also recognised that Joyce’s ‘Fa Fe Fi Fo Fum!’ appears in Shakespeare’s play as Edgar’s line ‘Fie, foh, and fum / I smell the blood of a British man’.

‘Fum’ was also a nickname for George IV, hated in Ireland because of his anti-Catholic Emancipation position.

‘By sylph and salamander and all the trolls and tritons’

We were particularly taken with the trolls, here. While noting that all four creatures are quite evocative (evoking particularly the four elements) the trolls reminded us of an Ibsen influence, via Peer Gynt. Joyce also refers to tolls in ‘The Day of the Rabblement’ (‘the Irish Literary Theatre by its surrender to the trolls has cut itself adrift from the line of advancement’).

‘that Yokeoff his letter, this Yokan his dahet. Pass the jousters […]’

We stopped briefly on these lines to note the error. Joyce had, in fact, originally intended for this to read ‘[…] his da. Let the jousters…..’. ‘Da’, as we noted, appears throughout Joyce’s works as a gloss for ‘father’.

‘Off with your persians!’

The final few lines of this passage (top of p.532) were significantly expanded during the work’s composition. The lines originally read simply: ‘The governorgeneral himself no less: off with your Persian. Search ye the Finn! Ho, croak, evildoer. Doff!’ We commented that expansion, rather than deletion, is of course typical of Joyce’s drafting process, and that these additions further delay the eventual arrival of HCE. In Joyce’s notes, next to this line, there is evidence of him having written ‘SD, LB, MH’. As Simon Dedalus, Leopold Bloom and Michael Healey, we commented that these all represent flawed father figures.

This brief observation led us into an extended discussion about the various ways of reading the Wake. While this particular combination of fathers might seem a little odd, we observed that Joyce often has multiple thoughts in his mind simultaneously. Thinking of the multiple ways of reading Joyce – literally, allegorically, analogically, and metaphorically – we noted how easy it can be to slip into a universalizing reading of the Wake, as many critics do. While this is not necessarily a flawed enterprise in itself, a universalizing reading will likely provoke a more detailed, particuliarising reading, which in turn, for some readers, would need to be expanded back to a broader understanding. We agreed that this dialectical process was the best way of understanding the Wake.

Light relief at the end of this discussion led us to think of Joyce’s quip, at the suggestion that his puns were ‘trivial’, that in fact they were ‘quadrivial’.

‘Off with your persians! Search ye the Finn!’ (II)

While these reminded us of Molly’s Turkish slippers, we also noted that Sherlock Holmes keeps his snuff in a Persian slipper on the mantelpiece of 221B Baker Street. This fact introduces to the passage an air of detection, compounded in the second phrase, and led us back to ‘Eumaeus’ (‘sherlockholmesing’).

‘Arise, sir ghostus!’

With time nearly at an end, we quickly discussed the radio allusions in 532.4. We recalled earlier attitudes to radio technology, and noted the belief that radio could somehow get into the spirit of a person. Hester Dowden’s book ‘Psychic Messages from Oscar Wilde’ [1923] is perhaps also being alluded to here. In this book, Dowden recorded that Wilde, apparently, hated Ulysses. Joyce, unsurprisingly, was amused and delighted by her book.

Doff!

‘Doff!’, the final word of the passage, also caught our attention. A command for those in the court to doff their caps as HCE arrives (‘Amtsadam, sir, to you! Eternest cittas, heil!’), we discussed how cap-doffing also appears in ‘Wandering Rocks’, as characters doff their hats to Earl and Lady Dudley. We wondered if there was an element of Irish subservience to the English in this gesture, too.

Our next reading will take place in the autumn term. We shall begin at 532.6 (‘Amtsadam, sir, to you!’).

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