Monday, September 14, 2009

Finnegans Wake chapter 4

In explaining chapter 4 I do not have the time here to prove my reasons for the identity of all the characters. That would take a lot of time. I just wanted to write this up for a facebook group that is currently working on that chapter. If you would like to join that group can be found here:

facebook group

I'll worry about justifying all my theories when I get down to writing my book on the Wake, so for the moment you'll just have to trust me though there are doubtless mistakes in this reading.

The first paragraph concerns three speculations concerning why something happened, what that is is not clear but the building of HCE's grave in the later paragraphs is a likely candidate. The first theory is rather obscure but one clause in the sentence: "it may be ... those lililiths undeveiled which hat undone him," Izzy is often identified with Lillith later in the book. "And knew not the watchful treachers at his wake," mostly likely refers to HCE's three sons, though the evidence is not conclusive. The second theory is also obscure but allusions to Izzy, Shaun and Shem are made though not in what capacity since the verbs reglimm and presaw are not clear: "It may be ... that he reglimmed? presaw? ... Ysit [Izzy] shamed [Shem] and shone [Shaun]."

The third theory is very difficult to explain to a beginner. In short what the sentence is saying is that he prayed that his wordwounder, the Cad who is the combination of his sons, Shem and Shaun, or perhaps wordwounder is just Shem, might unfold (grow up to be) the first of a distinguished dynasty, the main idea of the sentence shifts and discusses that his most besetting of ideas was the formation of a prison that would jail the Cad thereby eliminating him from all classes and masses. The first part of the sentence mostly concerns clues that the subject is HCE. King Billy (William III of Orange) on a "white horse" and Finglas mill where William had his headquarters at the battle of the Boyne are three solid clues that it is indeed HCE: "It may be ... that with his deepseeing insight ... within his patriarchal shamanah, broadsteyne ... He Conscious of Enemies, a kingbilly whitehorsed in a Finglas mill, prayed." We then return to what HCE is praying about. The evidence that the wordwounder is his son, the Cad, is rather overwhelming. Angels and devils, sheep and goats and pigs are all symbols for the Cad, plus wordwounder is a reasonable description of Shem. The Cad is associated with pigs because Spigott, the man who tried to incrinimate Parnell with a forged letter, his name looks like pig. Moreover, the fact that he is praying that this wordwounder would develop his dynasty further leads us to suspect that it is his son he is praying for: "and bred with unfeigned charity that his wordwounder (an engles [angel] to the teeth who ... would go anyold where in the weeping world on his mottled belly [snake, devil, an allusion to the Genesis passage] (the rab, [Irish for pig] ...) ... might ... unfold into the first of a distinguished dynasty of his posteriors, blackfaced connemaras [sheep] not of the fold but elder children of his household." The sentence then shifts and discusses HCE's most besetting idea. Mountjoy is a prison as well as Castle of Ham which even housed Napoleon III who is an unequivocal symbol for HCE's sons, Ham as well being the son of Noah that corresponds to Shaun (in the museyroom Lipoleum is the three sons since there were three Napoleons and Wellington is HCE): "his most besetting of ideas ... being the formation ... where ... the Mountain of Joy receives ... Ham's cribcracking yeggs, thereby at last eliminating from all classes and masses ...: sigarius (sic!) vindicat urbes terrorum (sicker!): and so ... the obedience of the citizens elp the ealth of the ole." It is not completely clear that one can fairly say HCE will thereby eliminate "him," since him does not appear in the phrase, the problem is that the sentence ends with a quote by Augustine whose significance I don't understand, as well as the Dublin motto: the obedience of the citizens is the city's happiness whose meaning I also do not fully understand.

The text then moves on from theory and concerns the real action which is the building of HCE's grave and his subsequent escape: "Now gode. Let us leave theories there and return to here's here." The most important aspect of the following sentence is that we realize that it is HCE's three sons, often called Tom, Dick or Harry but also refer to Noah's three sons, Shem, Ham and Japhet that are making his grave: "The teak coffin ... was to turn in later ... near the porpus [corpus] ... Any number of conservative public bodies ... before voting themselves and himself, town, port and garrison [Tom, Dick and Harry] by a fit and proper resolution ... made him ... their present of a protem [temporary] grave in Moyelta of the best Lough Neagh pattern." I realize that town, port and garrison are rather different from Tom, Dick and Harry but in reviewing the entire Wake virtually any two one syllable names, followed by a third multiple syllable name refers to Tom, Dick and Harry. Also important is that underneath Lough Neagh was a mythical city which seems to explain the following sentence.

The sentence beginning with "It was in a fairly" I don't understand.

When I first read this next passage I thought it was HCE building the grave even though that did not make sense. I now favor an ambiguous interpretation which says that it is the Cad digging the grave and HCE blasting out of the grave at the same time. I have counted nine clues that point to the Cad digging the grave and five clues that suggest that HCE is blasting out of the grave. First the HCE clues: Adam, the masterbuilder, Sygstryggs, a variation of the 11th century Danish king, Thor, and Abraham who purchased the cave of Machpelah for a family tomb are all strong HCE figures. The cad figures include: Patrick, Cassivellaunus, a British chief who resisted Caesar since the Cad is identified with resisting foreign invasion, Saint Thomas à Becket because he was killed by a king, Saint Laurence O'Toole because King Dermot married his sister and the word occaecatus which means made blind in Latin refers to Shem. The other clues are harder to understand, three refers to the Cad, "Sygstryggs to nine," is 6 to 9, numbers which are mirror images of each other and have nothing to do with the sexual position, are a reference to Izzy who often talks to her mirror image in the book. Lastly the Cad is identified with tree and stone because treestone looks like tristan. "Blaetther begins to fail" refers to trees since Blaetther is leaves in German, and the stone slab refers to tree and stone. Another possible interpretation is that it is only one person who is doing the action it's just that many characters in the wake share characteristics from two sigla.

Our masterbuilder, the Cad/HCE, openly damned and blasted this underground heaven (the city underneath Lough Neagh), exploded from a T.N.T bombingpost and fused into tripupcables. The Cad/HCE afterwards neared it and lined it with bricks and mortar thus encouraging public councils to present to him a stone slab with the motto written: "We have done ours gohellt with you, Heer Herewhippit, overgiven it, skidoo!"

This wastohavebeen underground heaven, [the city underneath Lough Neagh] ... (its architecht, Mgr Peurelachasse, having been obcaecated [blind, Shem] lest he should petrifake [Patrick] suchanevver while the contractors Messrs T. A. Birkett [Thomas à Beckett] and L. O. Tuohalls [Laurence O'Toole] were made invulnerably venerable) ... our misterbilder, [masterbuilder] Castlevillainous, [Cassivellaunus] openly damned and blasted ... exploded from a reinvented T.N.T. bombingpost ... to sternbooard out of his aerial thorpeto, [thor] ... and fused into tripupcables, [three] ... and playing down from the conning tower into the ground battery fuseboxes, all differing as clocks from keys ... some saying ... it was Sygstryggs [Sitric, six] to nine, [6 9]... He afterwards whaanever his blaetther [TREE leaves] began to fail [fall] off him ... and, stoop by stoop, he neared it ... carefully lined the ferroconcrete result with rotproof bricks and mortar ... so encouraging ... additional useful councils public ... to present unto him ... a STONE slab with the usual Mac Pelah [Abraham] address of velediction, a very fairworded instance of falsemeaning ADAMelegy: We have done ours gohellt with you, Heer Herewhippit, overgiven it, skidoo!

Just as Egyptian pharoahs were buried with all sort of objects so too would HCE be buried with all kinds of bric au brac so that he could live out the rest of the days of his life: "Show coffins, winding sheets, goodbuy bierchepes, cinerary urns, liealoud blasses ... any kind of inhumationary bric au brac ... would ... naturally follow ... enabling that roundtheworlder wandelingswight [wight: man] ... to live all safeathomely the ... days of his life ... whaling away the whole of the while ... embalmed, of grand age."

HCE then bolts out of his grave though it is not clear why he is called Blueblitz. One possibility is that he is often linked with Thor, blitz meaning lightning in German: "Blueblitzbolted from there, knowing the hingeworms [worms entering coffins at the hinges] ... buried burrowing in Gehinnon, [Hell, Gehenna] to proliferate through all his Unterwealth [Underworld] ... and revisit our Uppercrust Sideria." The remainder of the sentence which seems to be an adjective clause describing Sideria I do not understand.

In the next sentence there is a parenthetical phrase that is very difficult to grasp: (for Breedabrooda [Shem] had at length presuaded him to have himself to be as septuply buried as the murdered Cian [Cad] in Finntown). Breedabrooda is a Hungarian king that came to power after murdering his brother which would link him to Shem since Cain murdered his brother. The Cian character, not to be confused with Cain, is an Irish king that could change into a pig at will which would link him to the Cad. That would suggest that Shem persuaded the Cad to have himself buried in place of HCE for the whole sentence reads: "The other spring offensive on the heights of Abraham may have come about all quite by accidence, Foughtarundser [our father, HCE] (for Breedabrooda [Shem] had at length presuaded him to have himself to be as septuply buried as the murdered Cian [Cad] in Finntown), had not been three monads [minutes] in his watery grave ... when portrifaction [putrefication] ... began to ramp, ramp, ramp." However that interpretation seems rather unsatisfactory, it suggests that Shem is trying to help HCE by deceiving the Cad and it never happens in the wake that Shem helps HCE. That is the only meaning I can get from the sentence. Also problematic is that HCE bolted out of his grave in the last paragraph, not that the Wake's narrative thread is always logical.

The next three sentences I can also not translate. Hoodenwinkle is probably HCE due to hat, since Finn MacCool means white hat and also because Tim Finnegan is a man of hod. Patrizien is probably Shaun because of Patrick. And Shem is druiven because it means grapes in Dutch, the subjects are clear but the verbs and objects attached to them are not: "A hoodenwinkle [Dutch hatshop, Hod] gave the signal and a blessing paper freed the flood. Why did the patrizien [Shaun] make him scares with his gruntens? Because the druiven [Dutch grapes Shem] were muskating at the door."

The next sentence fits into two halfs. The first half concerns the identity of the two warring camps. It seems to be the Cad and HCE. The Cad is often identified with the new, the south and Ireland. HCE is often identified with Scandinavia, Russia, England and consequently Northern Ireland, here Ulster: "From both Celtiberian camps (granting at the onset for the sake of argument that men on the two sides in New South Ireland [Cad] and Vetera [old] Uladh [Ulster])[HCE] ... each, of course, on the purely doffensive ... were drawn toowards their Bellona's Black Bottom." [perhaps Izzy] I have no evidence that Bellona refers to Izzy. Bellona is a Roman war goddess which Izzy is never associated with to my knowledge, nor is she ever associated with black or bottom or even BBB but that is the most logical candidate. However the word their is used and both the Cad and HCE possess something in common, Izzy.

The second half of the sentence tells why the person suggests the appearance of the "old wugger" the reason being he had been feeding off the flesh of his own misplaced fat, ie, hump during his hibernation or his incarceration: "the person garrotted [a weapon like a chain] may have suggested ... the first old wugger [Earwicker] of himself in the flesh ... for there had circulated freely fairly among his opposition the feeling that in so hibernating Massa Ewacka, [Earwicker] who ... had been known ... to get outside his own length of rainbow trout and ... devour his threescoreten [90] of roach per lifeday ... was ... all this time of totality secretly and by suckage feeding on his own misplaced fat."

The paragraph beginning with Ladies did not disdain I have no explanation for.

All in all these paragraphs are pretty tough going for the Wake but they do eventually yield enjoyment if you work at them.


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