On 29th January we read from 533.04 (‘she is my bestpreserved wholewife’) to 533.19 (‘Goosna Greene’).
As usual we began with a quick mop-up of observations initial observations. We noted the ‘Merry Christmas’ of ‘murry chrushmess’ (534.01); the radio/audio influences (‘amp amp amplify’, the ‘tiktak’s at the end of the section sounding like pips); the curious ‘charactering’. However, unlike the previous passage, little jumped out at us immediately.
‘with incompatibly the smallest shoenumber outside chinatins’
We thought, of course, about Chinese footbinding, noting that this is a way to preemptively keep wives faithful, by damaging their feet while still young girls. ‘Incompatibly’ is a gloss for ‘incomparably’, while Evans of ‘Evans’s eye’ might be Heaven (meaning: my wife is so attractive even God can see it). Evans might also be a reference to George Evans of Arbour Hill, the Dublin prison known for housing sex offenders (though whether this was its primary purpose in Joyce’s time we were not sure). ‘Jolly dainty’ sounds like the Italian for ‘yellow teeth’ which led us to think of the sheer number of references to teeth – either gleaming white or lacklustre yellow – through Joyce’s work.
A proofpiece is a small piece of work, a model, made by an apprentice to prove he has demonstrated himself capable in his craft. Here presumably it refers to HCE’s wife.
‘Lambeyth and Dolekey’
Both islands (Lambay and Dalkey) we also noted the religious element: a bishop-regionary is one without a diocese. Lambay is perhaps significant as the site of ethnic cleansing in the nineteenth century.
‘an always sadfaced man, in his lutestring precape with tabbinet band’
As well as ‘Dalkey’, we also took ‘dull key’ from ‘Dolekey’, which led us to this figure, who we thought about as a kind of Stephen Dedalus figure. While he seems quite dandyish – tabinet as a kind of pressed silk, appearing also in ‘Circe’ and ‘The Dead’ – there is also a melancholic element to his description. We thought about Joyce’s interest in the troubadour tradition and how this seems to be an example of it. The religious/musical conflation also seems quite strong (‘pewcape’).
‘oslo haddock’s fumb’
This line perhaps alludes to St Peter taking a coin from the fish’s mouth, one of Jesus’ miracles, and also reminded us of the line from ‘Circe’ (‘His criminal thumbprint on the haddock’). Is the Oslo a Scandinavian reference, encouraging us to anticipate some possible Ibsen allusions in a few lines? (We also have ‘Nowhegs’, 533.22).
‘our fourposter tunies chantreying under Castrucci Sinior and De Mellos’
The tunies would appear to be Mamlujo, while chantries were funds established for dead sinners, ensuring that a priest should bestow them with enough Masses in order that they can make it through Purgatory successfully. Castrucci and De Mellos were both singers who appeared in Dublin, with the latter establishing an opera on Fishamble Street, which might be relevant to the above.
‘our altogether cagehaused duckyheim on Goosna Greene’
This image of a getaway cottage reminded us of Bloom’s fantasy in ‘Ithaca’ and the ‘cage’ element made us think of the mock Tudor style. However, the really notable thing for us here was the Ibsen element of these words: cage/house, duck/home allude to an Ibsenite sensitivity towards women trapped in the home, especially the belief that this was in some way desirable or beneficial. ‘Caged’, then, does seem consistent with the passage we read in the 2015 sessions, in which language suggesting its own opposite was a key theme.
‘(Frankfurters, numborines, why drive fear?)’
At the end of the seminar we cam back to this line: why drive fear sounds like ein, zwei, drei, though this German connection still didn’t make clear the Frankfurt allusion. Is ‘why drive fear’ also a reference to the state of Europe in the 1930s? Of course the Mamalujo are also making HCE scared in this moment, too, and we thought of how dominant a feeling fear was for Joyce (thunder, dogs, etc).
We will begin again next time at 533.17 (‘those whapping oldsteirs’).