Last edited 11-07-20
My scholarship is copyrighted at the U.S. Library of Congress.
So, be careful, always quote & never plagiarize!
This long academic article has the same format of its first publication
at the University of Bologna, Alma Mater Studiorum, established in 1088.
Rejoyce in Peace: A Study of Finnegans Wake III.4
Despite the fact that many argue that James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake is untranslatable and even unintelligible, nothing is in fact more appropriate than translation to facilitate the comprehension of this unparalleled masterpiece of world literature. In the following pages, I will first provide a detailed explanation of the chapter’s plot in a way that it has never been done since its publication, in the belief that only a thorough understanding of the action can guide interpretation and produce valid academic criticism. Next, I will bring the chief thematic clusters to the reader’s attention, in order both to stress the significance of such ideas as compassion and peace, and to examine the role of FW in relation to them.
- Who When Where
The initial pages (555.1 – 559.21) introduce the dramatis personae of this “curious drama[s]” (577.32) and set the scene to their physical and psychological deeds. All characters involved are described through elements symbolic of their essence and role (555.5 – 558.32), but their portrait is interrupted when Jerry, the elder of the twins, cries in his tumultuous sleep, thus awakening HCE and ALP, the parental couple. So, all the tension built up in these pages deflates abruptly as the child’s cry echoes through the house, breaking the narrative flow and bringing us back to the indeterminacy of the beginning: “Where are we at all? and whenabouts in the name of space?” (558.33). Each temporal sentence opens “Sirens”-like with a leit -motif – a repetition with variation on the motif of the night, tailored to the nature of the characters described in the section itself: “nat by night by naught by naket” (555.5) depicts Mamalujo – the four Evangelists with their donkey – and the twins, Jerry and Kevin; “night by silentsailing night” (556.1) is dedicated to the youngest daughter, Issy; “now upon nacht” (556.23) describes Sackerson, the handyman employed at HCE’s tavern and one of his alter-egos; “wan fine night and the next fine night and last find night” (556.31) narrates the story of how Kate the servant found HCE lying on the floor – intoxicated after drinking his customers’ alcoholic leftovers – and steered him upstairs toward his bedroom; “each and every juridical sessions night” (557.13) illustrates the Twelve, engaged in a mock-process to sentence HCE for his and their own sins; “niece by nice by neat by natty” (558.21) is about the Maggies, Issy’s twenty-eight school- and playmates; and finally, “in their bed of trial” (558.26) introduces the protagonists with an epical tone: HACLEP, no more in their prime but still united, are… something which remains unsaid, since “a cry off” (558.32) breaks and redirects the stream of unconsciousness. Here we can imagine the couple, suspended between sleep and wakefulness, glancing at each other’s creased face with misty eyes and an interrogative look (558.33f.). This is the first occurrence in FW where the parents appear to be awaken and acting in real life – although the dividing line between dream and reality is extremely blurred in FW , where the first is in fact no less real than the latter. What follows is an extremely dry description of HACLEP’s bedroom and personal belongings, as one would deliver in perceiving external reality immediately after re-emerging from sleep: sentences are telegraphic in style, but the objects they depict are highly symbolic and contribute to further characterize the protagonists.
- Matt’s View – First Position of Harmony
The narration from Matt’s viewpoint (559.21 – 563.36) is clearer if divided in four sub-sections: the first illustrates HACLEP’s physical appearances (559.22-29), their reaction to Jerry’s cry (559.30 – 560.6), their house (560.7-21), and the bond uniting them (560.22-36); the second introduces the children (561.1-9) to focus on Issy (561.10 – 562.15); the third opens with a presentation of the sons (562.16-22) to develop Kevin’s portrait (562.22-36); while the fourth describes Jerry (563.1-23) to end with a philosophical reflection on the twins and the nature of time (563.32-36). The initial sub-section is interwoven with expressions borrowed from the field of games, chess in particular, which is a literary homage to Lewis Carroll ( Alice Through the Looking Glass ). Thus, an extraordinarily rich text emerges from the overlapping of chess terminology with theatre references, creating the impression that a drama of epic dimensions is unfolding, where power relationships are governed by fixed, unchangeable rules. As soon as Jerry’s cry echoes through the house, petite ALP snatches the lamp and rushes toward the staircase to the second floor, where the children’s bedrooms are, while HCE follows her heavily, hindered by his stout build. This is also the first occurrence in FW where we are explicitly told their family name: they are “the Porters” (560.22). Their union is uncommonly solid compared to other matches, nowadays – in fiction or reality (560.28ff) – so much so that their individualities merge to form a “pateramater” (560.28), hence the name HACLEP. In order to explain their bond, Joyce quotes himself in “Ithaca,” where Bloom and Molly are described in terms of “an arruginated male key in the hole of an unstable female lock” – corresponding in FW to: “As keymaster fits the lock it weds . . .” (560.29ff). But that concept of penetration evolves here in inter-penetration, since ALP is HCE’s “streamline secret” (560.30), i.e. his Jungian Anima, his feminine soul represented symbolically by the Liffey and literarily by the stream of unconsciousness of FW itself. After HACLEP reach the second floor, the focus of the narration centers on Issy, highlighting her natural charm and how HCE sublimates his Oedipal attraction to her, in one of the most significant and touching passages in the chapter. As noted by McHugh, here Joyce takes inspiration from the apocryphal gospel of James and completely subverts its message to express a triple wish for the women of HCE’s (and his own) family – that they may pursue and find their own happiness, instead of following the empty, pitiless rules of society, which would doom them to a life of sorrow and obedience to the symbols of male authority (562.7-11). The narration then shifts to the twins, apparently different but fundamentally equal: Kevin, extroverted and sanguineous, will grow up to be a protector of the status quo, becoming either dean or policeman (562.32 and 18); Jerry, instead, is the son with artistic temperament, introverted and bilious, representing the family’s black sheep and society’s scapegoat (563.3).
- Mark’s View – Second Position of Discordance
This section is the longest of the chapter (564.1 – 582.29), which reveals all its thematic import. Even though it simply narrates how HACLEP enter their children’s rooms to make sure they are tranquilly asleep, it encompasses deep theological and philosophical reflections on God and history, including HCE’s symbolic understanding and acceptance of Man’s heart of darkness, preliminary to his spiritual and bodily union with ALP “in their bed of trial” (558.26). So, from his point of observation behind HACLEP’s backs, Mark starts his tale by comparing their “bodom fundus” (564.34, i.e. their bottoms) to Dublin’s Phoenix Park (564.1–565.5). Here like in infinite other loci , not just in FW but in his whole literary production, Joyce is writing his “farced epistol to the hibruws” (228.33f.) using the vilest of materials, “litter,” to convey a deep meaning in “letter[s]” (93.24) and only those who are willing to humbly “stoop” (18.17) can grasp his universal message. The author proceeds using symbols: Phoenix Park stands for the Garden of Eden – “where anciently [our] first murders” (564.29) fell from grace and thus “bequeathed us their ills” (579.32), while corporal functions like sex, defecation, urination and flatulence – all originating from that body part allegorically described here – stand for the original sin, since in human consciousness they are associated with feelings of guilt, shame, rejection and need for psychological displacement. Mark’s narration illustrates how ALP sooths Jerry, who has been having nightmares of “phantares” and a “bad bold faathern” (565.19-20). This echoes “Telemachus,” where Haines dreams of a panther, a symbol of Christ – which makes Stephen remember his own dream anticipating his encounter with Bloom, a Christ-like figure; but it also reminds of “Scylla and Charybdis,” where Stephen theorizes on the uncertainty of paternity starting from an analysis of Shakespeare’s biography and a literary criticism of Hamlet . To all these layers of meaning, Freudian theory of Oedipal conflict is added to obtain a crucial superimposition of images. According to Freud, the father represents a menace to the son in that he threatens the latter with punishment should he persist in desiring the mother. So, if the father is like a panther and the panther is a symbol of Christ, it follows that the father also symbolizes Christ. Here then, HCE is compared to God – or rather, emphasis is given to his divine part, which is by no means the only one. After soothing Jerry, the parents exchange a brief dialogue in Esperanto (565.25-28), saying that his tumultuous dreams have caused him to utter childish words in his sleep. As a linguistic utopia, Esperanto aimed at facilitating the union of European peoples: it should not come as a surprise, then, if Joyce chose to have his protagonists from Chapelizod, Dublin, speak a universal language in a book with which he intended to address the issues at the core of human nature and to uphold the supreme principle of peace just before the outbreak of World War Two. Also in Esperanto is the line of the director of scene, who – after instructing each character on their role in the drama (566.7-25) – exhorts HCE to cover his loins (566.26f.), since his sons are looking at him, and he should preserve their innocence. This “stagemanager’s prompt” (558.36) is of course Joyce’s, acting in his narrative like God in His creation. The following “vision” (566.28) is Jerry’s, who catches a glimpse of HCE’s penis (“That crag!”) and scrotum (“Those hullocks!”, 566.29). This sight is part of his understanding of the mystery of sex, which he will later disclose to his brother Kevin (293, in the next Vichian cycle). Next is a series of allusions to HCE’s condom (566.33 – 567.13), which, apparently, the good man is wearing well in advance, maybe to explicitly invite ALP to love. She giggles a bit at the sight of her partner’s protected erection (“I leer . . . because I must see a buntingcap of so a pinky on the point,” 567.6-7), which causes her to renew her love to him (“O my big, O my bog, O my bigbagbone!,” 567.6). Just like Bloom’s thoughts in “Lestrygonians” are covertly directed by the movements of his empty stomach, here HCE’s stream follows the uneven intensity of his erection. In this narcissistic fantasy, HCE imagines to be, in succession: a king (567.17), a celebrant (567.21), a mayor (568.17), a baronet (568.25), a king again (568.34), a high prelate (569.20), a rich squire (570.15), a baronet again, this time explicitly “handsome” (570.19), and finally, a lord (570.20). The passage dedicated to HACLEP’s urination (570.26 – 571.26) represents the heart of III.4, delivering the keys to comprehend FW ‘s message. Why should urine possess such a profound meaning? The answer is as straightforward as Joyce’s Weltanschauung , that he could complicate to gorgeous unintelligibility thanks to his artistic sensitivity and literary genius: urine is water and water is connected to fertility and life, hence to the feminine principle, essential to reach enlightenment. Furthermore, urine is one of the symbols of the original sin representing Man’s inborn imperfection, which can be comprehended, accepted, and overcome through compassion only (“O pity!” 570.27) – our path to spiritual progress. Here, HCE is the first to feel the need “to go somewhere” (570.26), later followed by ALP (571.17f.). Between their duties, lies the revelation of how FW should be read. Its words are like “brilling waveleaplights” (571.1), discontinuous light-waves of Carrollian ascendancy (“brilling” is a loan-word from the Jabberwocky lyric; while a “blend,” 571.3, is a portmanteau -word), issuing from “a clear springwell” (571.2) near our place of origin (“our park,” 571.3). These light-waves are made to be sung (“Please, say me how sing you them,” 571.1f.) and their message can be grasped by everyone, even fools, if using “soundsense” (121.15), i.e. the sense of hearing (“makes the daft to hear all blend,” 571.3), which is the first key to FW . The second key is “endearment” (571.4), that is, the capacity to conceive human affection, illuminating all kind of obscurity and making everything so “clear!” (571.4). The third key is literary reverberation. Indeed, translating “the bookstaff branchings” (571.5f.) was for me the proof that one must really “stoop” in order to “conquer” Joyce’s message. Humble enough to check the meaning of “book” in my own language, I realized that I really did not know it – nor its Latin etymology, designating a writing support obtained from the tree’s inner cortex whose scientific name is “phloem” (“floema,” in Italian). And exactly like a flowered poem is FW – the reason of this will become “clear!” examining the role of the Maggies in relation to the fundamental concept of peace. The fourth key to FW is anesthetic: far from the maddening crowd, Freud with cocaine and opiates and Joyce with alcohol – “this pewterpint of Gilbey’s goatswhey which is his prime consolation” (558.1f.) – could find the peace of mind to create. And indeed, the biblical tree of life, which is also the tree of “litteringture” (570.18), possesses here “druggeted stems” (571.6). The fifth key is physical love as conceived in Tantric spiritual philosophy (“Do you can their tantrist spellings?,” 571.6-7), according to which a disciplined sex practice can unite and enhance male and female energy, becoming a path to spiritual advancement. In Tantrism, the feminine principle (“O ma ma!,” 571.12) can guide Man through “all the woods so wild” (556.17f.), i.e. through “esta selva selvaggia e aspra e forte” (Dante, Inferno , canto I, v. 5) which is “life’s unblest” (563.13). Humanity needs this “able schoolmistress’ aid” to “lease” this complex world (from the German “lessen”: to read) and un-weave the word of FW (“I can lese, skillmistress aiding,” 571.7) in order to “take a message” (571.8) of peace and progress toward enlightenment. Symbol of peace is the “chapeolofeases” (571.11), the “littleeasechapel” (571.18) that is both a urinal and a vagina, “sold for [a] song” (571.11) by the traitors of human nature (“Sell me, my soul dear!,” 570.13), brainlessly avid, who can never get the right price in selling it, since it is of course priceless. Giving it up to any Church (“cloister . . . monkshood,” 571.13ff) could only cause Man to feel “sorrowful” and “triste to death” (571.13ff), while “enjoycing” life to the fullest would render us “allso gay” (571.16) and illuminate (“blanching . . . light,” 571.15ff) the dark depths of death (571.14, where “ivytod” contains the German “ Tod ”: death). Pity and compassion are essential to understand and “pppease” (571.21) basic human needs, symbolized here by urination, which fulfillment only can lead to peace – heaven on Earth (“O, peace, this is heaven!,” 571.19ff). The focus then shifts on the parents’ dialogue. The lines in Wakese are considerations on marriage and birth giving (571.28ff), as well as reflections on the children’s revolutionary character (571.32ff), destined by nature to replace their parents and subvert the status quo they embody. The lines in plain English, instead, tell us that Jerry is now “quieter” (571.27) and that, before returning downstairs, HCE wants to make sure also Issy is sleeping well. Her bedroom door is open and he peeps inside, warned by ALP to be “careful” (572.13). Following next are two trials (“in their bed of trial,” 558.26): a penal (572.21 – 573.32) and a civil case (573.33 – 576.9). Why should they take place hic et nunc ? But of course, it is human nature we are considering here, since HACLEP are our forefathers, “Eve and Adam” (3.1), as well as each of us in turn, “everywans in turruns” (557.9). As soon as HCE peeks inside Issy’s room, an abyss of dismay opens in front of him and he perceives the horrorific beauty of Man’s soul. The fact that he takes off heaven’s gauze, God of Heavens! (“Gauze off heaven!,” 566.28), when looking inside his daughter’s room, is in line with the Electra complex theorized by Freud: HCE loves Issy fatherly and neurotically – as every good father loves his own daughter – so that her room represents “his core” (590.27), his essence and the secret of his nature. Both proceedings are intricate, disconcerting, absurd, and comical – but paradoxically almost devoid of portmanteau -words, so that their superficial reading is rather unproblematic compared to the average Wakean page. On the other hand, their complexity lies both in the syntax, very tortuous and convoluted, and in the contents. These in particular are extremely obscure, masked as they are by a first veil of moral depravation or bureaucratic over-sophistication, and by a second veil of procedural flaws that Joyce intentionally inserted to make the meaning decipherable only with great effort. “Let us consider” (572.18) the first case. The criminal prosecution is written in a legalese reminiscent of the Gothic-novel style, that Joyce renders monumental and universal at once, since under process here are not only HACLEP and family, but the whole human race. The Hamletish question, the “proposer” (572.19) with which we are presented, is whether Honophrius has the right to ask his wife Anita to commit adultery with one of his acquaintances, Magravius – whom he has indirectly instructed to “solicit [her] chastity” (572.30) – while continuing to render “conjugal duty when demanded” (573.9). In other words, Honophrius yearns for a love triangle to satisfy his neurotically deviant desire for his wife – which amounts to taking Bloom’s passive acceptance of Molly’s affair with Boylan one step further, toward an explicit request for unfaithfulness. Undoubtedly, then, betrayal in general and the love triangle in particular remain central themes throughout Joyce’s literary production, from Exiles though Ulysses up to FW . From this “proposer,” we learn that “Honophrius, Felicia, Eugenius and Jeremias are consanguineous to the lowest degree” (572.25ff) – an ambiguous expression indicating either that they belong to the same family or, if considered verbatim , that they are only remotely related. If we choose to accept the first and most fascinating hypothesis, as we are led to do by name similarity, Honophrius corresponds to HCE, Anita to ALP, Eugenius to Kevin, Jeremias to Jerry, Mauritius to Sackerson and Fortissa to Kate. In this account, it appears that everybody abuses everyone – which makes it especially appalling – and only after close examination can we discover that this debauchery is only a decoy. As a matter of fact, Mauritius and Magravius are alter-egos of Honophrius, while his sons Eugenius and Jeremias are the other two parts of his psyche, among which interchange is natural. In the same way, Fortissa is only an older version of Anita, and with Felicia they embody a feminine trinity, exactly as Honophrius, Eugenius and Jeremias personify a masculine trinity – both human expressions of God. Instead, what is truly remarkable here is that the most tolerated form of incest, that between father and daughter, is carefully avoided with the aid of both parents: HCE (who allegedly commits only “simple infidelities with Felicia, a virgin,” 572.23) and ALP (in order to “save the virginity of Felicia for Magravius,” 573.14ff). What in fact does take place is the far more tabooed incest between mother and son, since Michael is Kevin’s alter-ego. In order to realize this, we must remember the votive picture of “Michael, lance, slaying Satan, dragon with smoke, over [the] mantelpiece” (559.11ff) in HACLEP’s bedroom. There, the warrior Archangel is simply called Michael, as if he were a member of the family – and indeed he is, since Kevin is destined to become “commandeering chief of the choirboy’s brigade” (555.16ff) and in the bedroom we see him “happily to sleep . . . like the blissed angel he looks so like” (562.24ff). So, Anita is said to have “committed double sacrilege with Michael . . . a perpetual curate” (573.3ff) and it is always Michael who “dispenses her from yielding to Honophrius” (573.18ff), acting like a judge by reserving “her case for tomorrow for the ordinary Guglielmus” (573.24). In both cases, then, Anita is saved by her sons: here by Kevin and later by Jerry. Despite the curate’s postponement, the fact that no sentence is passed on the present case suggests that it cannot be properly answered: possibly because the conflict within human heart is unsolvable, so that the only option is to play for time and compromise between the deepest passions and the given moral code. The second proceeding is defined as “the commonest of all cases arising out of umbrella history” (573.35ff), where “umbrella” (slang for condom) and the verb “to arise” already intimate that the matter under discussion is still of sexual nature – and indeed sex is “the commonest of all cases” working in favor of “the lodgment of the species” (574.17). This case has a double procedural flaw: first, the defendant is never explicitly mentioned and second, she appears to be one of the partners of the suing firm itself, a “disseized” (574.5, both deceased and divided) company named Tangos, Ltd. The latter represents the Roman Catholic Church, acting through its trustee, “one Jocundus Fecundus Xero Pecundus Coppercheap” (574.12ff) later called “Monsignore Pepigi” (575.29), standing for HCE. The action was undertaken because, “for the payment of tithes due” (574.8f.), an invalid “crossed cheque” (574.14) was “drawn by the senior partner” (574.16) of Tangos, later identified as “the depleted . . . Breyfawkes” (574.36), formerly “Brerfuchs” (574.4). Given that the fox (“Fuchs,” in German) is for Joyce symbol of Christ at least since “Nestor,” and that the one entity who could possibly arrange “the lodgment of the species” is God, what we have here is a contradiction: it is God himself who tries to settle the human “debt” (574.10) to the Church, with a “crossed cheque” that is in fact “a good washable pink” (574.25), refused by Irish “national misery” (574.18) and free to circulate “among holders of Pango stock, a rival concern” (574.28), representing the Protestant Church. Now, only the “junior partner” of Tango “could be found” (575.2), a “Barren” who turned out to be an old woman named Ann Doyle, representing ALP, “from the proletarian class” (575.5), who left the box of the jury to bear witness, delivering “a jurymiad . . . in doylish” (575.9ff), i.e., a jeremiad in her native dialect, actually sounding like a true self-defense. This, added to the fact that “Judge Jeremy” (575.32) turns down Pepigi’s requests claiming “contractual incapacity” (576.2ff) for the woman, suggests that Ann is the real defendant in this lawsuit. Her debt (i.e., her guilt) is birth control, for “she had often . . . discounted her corset checks” (575.9-11) to “Mr Brakeforth’s . . . in exchange at nine months from date without issue” (575.11), where Mr Brakeforth represents God and the failed issue stands for Ann’s avoided pregnancies. As an “act of settlement” (575.27), she offered herself sexually to all those present “in that little green courtinghousie” (575.26) – particularly to Pepigi, in order to liquidate the debt and obtain his forgiveness (575.28). Indeed, the latter “seemed to proffer the steadiest interest towards her” (575.31) and would have accepted the deal, but Judge Jeremy, representing ALP’s son Jerry, refused to listen to the jurors – as corrupted as those condemning Parnell (575.35ff) – and decreed that Pepigi’s requests were inane and that the suing firm had no right whatsoever to payment (576.6ff). As noted before, Jeremy reaches this decision on the grounds of Ann’s “ contractual incapacity ,” since she was born in a time and place “ where mamy’s mancipium act did not apply” (576.4). In other words, Ann could not be held liable for the “ debt” because she had been born and brought up in bondage, and therefore could not choose for her own destiny. The transition from vision to reality is marked by Jerry’s sighing in sleep (576.10), which is also a sight of relief for the heartening conclusion of the trial. Before returning to bed, ALP prays for her sons and husband – that the “hovering dreamwings” (576.14) may guard and protect them, while the twins reciprocate with their own prayer (576.18 – 577.35) for their “forced payrents” (576.27). The narration resumes with a new portrait of the parental couple (578.3-28) and the description of ALP’s Sunday clean-ups to the beat of jazz music (578.21f.) is particularly touching, suggesting not only HCE’s love for her, but also Joyce’s own for Nora, since only an enamored man could give such a tender picture of his partner in their home intimacy. The answer to the question: “Which route are they going?” (578.29) is provided two pages later (580.23): “They near the base of the chill stair,” directed to their bedroom. Between are: an advertisement for their tavern-hotel (579.6), some of the rules guiding their home (579.8-24), and an account of their story (579.27 – 580.22), the tale “sub specie aeternitatis of hemale man all unbracing to omniwomen” (581.18), i.e., of every man and woman who fall in love and start a family, thus renewing the infinite circle of life. Innumerable accounts can be given of this universal tale – in the shape of a rhyme (580.26-36) or a popular song (582.21-27) – but it is always the same, different and immutable, repeating eternally through “life’s high carnage of semperidentity” (582.15).
- Luke’s View – Third Position of Concord
Luke’s view extends from 582.29 to 590.22 like a running commentary on HACLEP’s conjunction, that is both a love meeting and a match – and indeed cricket terminology is engrafted in its description, which is another literary homage to Lewis Carroll ( Alice in Wonderland , in the croquet variant). These pages are the most sexually dense of FW and certainly, if 1939 censorship could ever have seen through them, they would certainly have caused Joyce another trial for obscenity. But the thick veil of language operates a natural selection, so that comprehension is possible only to those who “stoop” into the book with an unprejudiced mind. Before introducing the matter, Joyce warns bigots to “change here,” while further reading is advisable for the open-minded only, who can therefore “keep [their] seats” (582.32ff). We can formulate the core of his message saying that physical love is as flawed as the men and women who practice it, but if approached with a compassionate, empathetic mentality, it is also a privileged channel to spiritual evolution. Symbol of Man’s imperfection is HCE’s “browbrand” (582.31), later called “the tarrant’s brand on his hottoweyt brow” (583.29ff), a rash representing Cain’s mark, the stigma of original sin, which we are requested to “redspot” (582.31), i.e. we are asked to respect and commiserate human imperfection, congenital hence inescapable. The couple share their love in many ways, and it is up to the reader’s intuition and sensitivity for the language to understand which ones in particular: anal intercourse (“Sidome,” 582.30, is soundsense for “sodomy”; “bucky brown,” 583.9, contains the Italian soundsense “holes,” so that the expression yields “brown holes”); “fellatio” (583.1ff and 584.3ff); frontal position (“elbiduubled,” 583.27, suggests “on both elbows”; “the bulloge she bears,” 583.4, contains “bull” and “bear,” that in financial jargon indicate a rising and falling market, respectively) and Molly’s favorite (583.34ff; in “Hades” Bloom considers that they must have conceived Rudy “that morning in Raymond terrace she was at the window, watching the two dogs at it . . . And the sergeant grinning up”). This last quote from Ulysses is also relevant because it reintroduces the theme of the love triangle, a neurotically diverted fantasy of betrayal “with intent to excitation” (557.22) already present in the first trial, since that Magravius is dangerously similar to this “Magrath” (584.5), for whom ALP appears to be longing while making love to the father of her children. The question whether these lines belong to ALP’s stream or rather to HCE’s own, is I think ill-posed: in all probability it is a shared fantasy, since adultery – real or imagined – can be rewarding for both partners entangled in a sado-masochistic role game. As a matter of fact, the possibility of unfaithfulness is clearly reciprocal in the sentence: “Three for two will do for me, and he for thee, and she for you” (584.10ff, punctuation mine). The climax is reached when HACLEP orgasm in unison with the song of an androgynous “hencock” echoing from the neighboring courtyards, whose unity symbolizes HACLEP’s own in the moment of ecstasy. Most commentators assume that this love act is unsatisfactory for ALP, basing on the two polysemic sentences: “You never wet the tea! And you may go rightoway back to your Aunty Dilluvia, Humprey, after that!” (585.31-33), that they interpret as a reproach for HCE and an indirect admission of failure. But Joyce’s endeavor in FW was to apply Bruno’s philosophical principle of the identity of contraries to language and literature by conveying, in a single expression, one meaning and its opposite: so the first line, coming after two imperatives, may in fact be a recommendation to use contraceptives (“to wet the tea” means “to pour the brewed tea into the teapot”); while the second may imply that HACLEP deserve each other, both no more in their prime (“Aunty Dilluvia” contains “aunt” and is soundsense for “antediluvian”), and it also may be a biblical allusion, since God sent the deluge to punish the impious for their immoral practices (like birth control). Furthermore, those commentators fail to notice that HACLEP’s “favors” are “since safely enjoined” (584.30, i.e. jointly enjoyed) and that ALP, “the queenbee he staggerhorned, blesses her bliss” (590.28, punctuation mine). Finally, a linguistic analysis supports the view that HACLEP do in fact enjoy a common orgasm. Otherwise, why should the hen of the Dorans produce a male “kikkery key” (584.20-21), in the same way ALP “had to kick a laugh” (583.26)? Because she, like ALP by her partner, has been waken up by “her gallows bird,” the old “cock of the Morgans” (584.23-25), with whom she mates, while their respective cries merge like their bodies. Of course this “hencock” represents HACLEP: both the animal and the human couple are engaged in copulation early in the morning and reach ecstasy simultaneously, as we see at 585.3-5: “Echolo choree coroh choree chorico! How me O my youhou my I youtou to I O?” The first exclamation contains the Italian “eccolo” meaning “here it comes” (the orgasm, ça va sans dire ) and a mix of “coccodè” and “chicchirichì” (Italian onomatopoeias for “cackle” and “cock-a-doodle-do”, respectively); while the second exclamation reproduces the coming together of the partners’ consciousnesses. As a matter of fact, HACLEP are still confused after the “closure” (585.27), since “Humbo” is invited to “lock [his] kekkle up” and “Anny” to “blow [her] wickle out” (585.30). Even before the apex is reached, the credits start to roll like at the end of a film, for whose “exclusive pigtorial rights pardon” is asked to our “honour” (584.36) – in case the latter was tarnished by these “weekreations” (585.1, “recreations,” but also “divine creations,” since the “weekly creation” par excellence was the universe). So, “gratias” (585.35) are rendered in succession to: “tight anne” (584.32, ALP); “his personneel” (584.33, HCE); “Miss Glimglow” (585.5, the lamp); “Master Mettresson” (585.6, the mattress), and “patient ringasend” (585.8, the condom). Specifically to contraception is dedicated a thematically dense passage (585.8-19) praising its function as an aid to social improvement and personal growth. Performing a crucial role also in the civil case, the theme of birth control was evidently close to Joyce’s heart, who in Ulysses depicted Stephen’s family like his own: much too large – both for his mother’s physical endurance and for his father’s temperament and financial possibilities. Here, reference to contraception is made with the phrase: “his auricular of Malthus” (585.11), Thomas Malthus being the English economist and Protestant parson (1766-1834) who theorized that, because population increases at a geometrical rate while food production at an arithmetic one, the former can exceed the latter determining a return to subsistence level conditions – a catastrophe that can only be avoided using such forces as misery, moral restraint, and vice. To keep population growth under check, Malthus advocated moral discipline and condemned contraception as an impious practice; his writings, however, had a strong influence on later theorists like Francis Place (1771-1854), whose neo-Malthusian movement was the first to support contraception as a benefit to society. This suited Joyce perfectly right – much less so did moral restraint: and in fact in FW he subverts Malthus’ stance on “vice,” covertly suggesting other ways to avoid pregnancy without renouncing one’s own sexual life – as we realize noticing that this “auricular of Malthus” also contains the Italian slang for “derrière.” By calling it a “promethean paratonnerwetter” (585.11), Joyce compares the discovery of contraception to that of fire, since both marked a point of no return in human evolution. But unlike the mythical gift of Prometheus – who for his insolent theft was doomed to eternal punishment – contraception represents a shelter from God’s wrath, as we see considering that “paratonnerwetter” contains a paratonnerre, i.e., a conductor of lightning. And indeed, according to this account, it was contraception which “first taught love’s lightning the way . . . to conduct itself” (585.12ff), i.e., it had a guiding function for the women and men who wanted to love each other physically without getting their fingers burnt. Furthermore, since a free and responsible love life can be a path to spiritual growth, this “laboursaving deviser[s]” (585.15), combined with “pity” and “mercy” (585.12ff) for the flawed human nature, allowed them to progress toward enlightenment (“love’s lightning the way”). The bracketed comments in this passage are uttered by ALP, who gently invites HCE to exit after love using her most distinctive quality, i.e., compassion. Further, more explicit invitations to empathy are: “condeal with him! . . . kindly feel for her!” ( 585.17-19), that we can interpret as referring to human nature and fate, marked by imperfection and death – and indeed we all are “still life with death in[us]born” (585.17). This phrase, one of the most lyrical of the whole chapter, is in fact referred to a most prosaic vision, i.e., HCE’s semen inside the condom. Once again, we can only feel the sincerest admiration for Joyce’s intellectual height and literary genius, capable to turn “litter” into “letter[s]” and, here, into pure philosophy. As a last provocation to the moral code of his time, the author states in an extremely poetic and unusually crystal manner that HACLEP are not married and “repeal[s] an act of union to unite in bonds of schismacy” (585.25ff) – like himself and Nora – since their bond is much more profound than a legal contract. Indeed, they are “wedded now evermore in annastomoses” (585.22ff), where ALP’s name is grafted into “anastomose,” defined in 1913 Webster’s Dictionary as the phenomenon causing channels to meet and unite or run into each other as rivers – exactly as ALP is the Liffey and HCE the sea, her “cold father, [her] cold mad feary father” (628.1ff). The following paragraph (585.34 –586.18) contains a series of orders, some of which extremely comical, representing the return of the Super-ego after the fusion experienced in the ecstasy of love. HACLEP are warned not to forget the condom between the sheets (“Never divorce in the bedding the glove that will give you away,” 586.4ff) or else the maid could find it and start a rumor that – passed on by HCE’s twelve old customers and modified by the Liffey – would arrive at those loud-mouthed washerwomen (of chapter I.8) and thus spread all across Dublin. Gossip could originate from the inside as well as from the outside, where “pollysigh patrolman Seekersenn” (586.28) is observing HACLEP’s “dumbshow” (559.18) while on the beat, as the lamplight projects their shadows on the window blind, so that “the man in the street can see the coming event . . . It will be known through all Urania soon” (583.15ff). This image reminds of the marvelous ending scene of “Ithaca,” where Bloom and Stephen experience a moment of true spiritual communion observing Molly’s illuminated window and the mystery of human nature in each other’s eyes, eventually cementing this amity by urinating together while watching “the heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.” Following next, to the end of Luke’s view, is the umpteenth account of HCE’s misdemeanor in Phoenix Park, provided by one of the three soldiers witnessing the scene. This version has that “pubchat” style (586.1) forbidden in the preceding page, which – added to the fact that the narration includes an episode in a tavern – renders it strongly reminiscent of “Cyclops,” where Bloom is a stranger among fanatic Irish nationalists exactly like HCE is a “refugee” (587.18) among the privates. Here the narrator evidently despises HCE, but his fellow soldier Jimmy d’Arcy – whom he asks to corroborate the tale – shows inexplicably sympathetic with the civilian. Indeed, behind this “Jimmy the chapelgoer” (587.35ff) hides Joyce himself, who stopped being a churchgoer to become a worshipper of the “chapelofeases.” And certainly not to the narrator belongs line 588.14 (“Whose dolour, O so mine!”), containing two key principles of Joyce’s worldview, here explicitly linked: compassion and the eternal feminine, the former embodied by the latter in the figure of ALP. So, what did really happen in Phoenix Park? Is it any clearer after 588 pages? Yes, it is. The nuisance is not ascribable to HCE alone, since it was actually a triangulation of mischievous looks, as revealed by the frequent allusions to sight: “ we must spy” (588.3); “ her point of view” (588.7); “ seepoint” (588.15); “ glimpsed” (588.21); “ mizpah” (588.24, soundsense for the Italian imperative “mira!”: aim!); “ peerless” (588.25). This game of intertwined looks takes place between the three drinking soldiers, the two urinating girls and HCE, who experiences a solitary erection while evacuating his bowels. Defecation is connected with him at 588.5, “his defences down during his wapping stillstand,” reminiscent of the previous “ deretane denudation” (557.22) and again it is referred to with: “ Number two coming! Full inside!” (588.21) where “number two” euphemistically denotes faeces, as “number one” indicates urine. The latter is associated with the feminine principle, as we see at 588.6-9, “ pip it, she simply must, she says . . . keep her flouncies off the grass while paying the wetmenots a musichall visit .” Here, the forget-me-nots become “ wetmenots ,” because this Pipette of Swiftian ascendancy is watering them with her “ pip it” (Italian soundsense for “urine”) producing joyous Joycean Chamber [pot] music . Again, urination is hinted at with: “ Mizpah low, youyou, number one, in deep humidity!” (588.24ff), where the repeated personal pronoun reveals that the urinating girls are two. As for the soldiers, their drinking activity is described at 588.11ff, where they are said to swallow up “ two bottles of joy with a shandy . . . and a fino oloroso .” This sinful primal scene in the Garden of Eden causes God’s wrath to manifest itself with a “fulmenbomb” (588.20), i.e., the thunderbolt that, according to Vico, terrorized the first humans and instilled a religious feeling in them. Afterwards, as a direct consequence of Man’s fall, comes the eternal, universal tale of the coupling between “ lasses” and “ lads” (588.35 – 589.4), populating the Earth with ego-centered little souls, each traveling “ rushroads to riches and cross [ing] slums of lice” (589.4ff). This account turns into HCE’s personal story (589.20 – 590.12), intertwined with Joyce’s own. “ Let us consider” how. Both capitalized a great interest: in order to do so, HCE used commercial subterfuge (“ his index on the balance ,” 589.13), while Joyce snatched Carrollian portmanteau -words from “ the baggage coach ahead” (589.14ff) – exactly like Stephen picked his nose (“ the baggage coach ahead” ) after plagiarizing Douglas Hyde’s poem on Sandymount Strand (“Proteus”). Joyce’s undercover autobiography takes the form of a countdown from seven to zero, reminiscent of God’s creation. Number seven is his abjuration of Catholic religion: “ he wandered out of his farmer’s health and so lost his early parishlife” (589.21ff), while number six is his discovery of sex: “ six junelooking flamefaces straggled wild out of their turns through his parsonfired wicket, showing all shapes of striplings in sleepless tights” (589.22-25). Number five is quite eventful (589.25-29): it marks God’s punishment for his past “vicious” life, as shown by the many allusions to the deluge (“ in undated times, misflooded, a just two of a feather, wading, reflotation”) ; it represents his money and sperm squandering (“ a main chanced to burst and misflooded his fortunes ,” 589.26ff), but it is also very fertile and fruitful, bringing forth the composition of “ foulplay ,” i.e., unfair plays inspired by feelings of revenge (“ wrothing” is soundsense for “writing in wrath”) and love (“ his fives’ court” is soundsense for “his wife’s courtship”), as well as the birth of two children, Giorgio and Lucia (“ a just two of a feather” ). The following pivotal moments fit into HCE’s story – representing Mamalujo, the three privates and the two maids (“ four hurrigan gales ; three boy buglehorners ; two hussites ,” 589.30-33) – but the last one (589.35 – 590.3) is again referred to Joyce, being a quotation from Portrait (ch. V), where Stephen narrates his father’s story to Cranly (“ something in a distillery . . .”) . Here, the “ explosium of his distilleries” (589.36) also stands for his orgasm, after the “ two hussites . . . left him . . . to pay himself off in kind remembrances” (589.33-35). This solitary ecstasy “ dropped him . . . leareyed and letterish” (590.2), i.e., fascinated by the young girls (like Lear by his daughters), void of sperm (from the German “leer”: empty) and full of “ litter” to turn into “ letter[s] .” The following paragraph (590.4-12) ironically discloses the Joyces’ tendency to treachery. On the financial side, John Joyce’s ruinous management of money was an “ ill” he evidently “ bequeathed” his son James, both insolvent debtors, well-known to companies like “ Lloyd’s” (590.5) that of course would never grant them a loan, “ not for beaten wheat . . . thanks!” (590.6). On the artistic side, FW is but James’ “ last tryon to march through the grand tryomphal arch” (590.9f.), i.e., his last literary forgery (“ I go to . . . forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race,” Portrait , ch. V) meant as a pass to history.
- John’s view – Last position of solution
John’s view occupies only the conclusive lines (590.22-30) and its “tableau final” (590.23) portrays HACLEP horizontal in bed after love, calmly enjoying each other’s presence in the early morning hours before attending at the many activities of the day. Two crucial events – the vision of human soul’s sublime horror in Issy’s room and the physical-spiritual fusion with ALP – have “worked out to an inch of [HCE’s] core” (590.27), bringing him almost in touch with his essence and leaving him with a longing for “More!” (590.27). But now it is time for HCE to take off the “ringasend” (585.9, the condom) and come down the “ring” (590.27) of their love match, to begin the everyday battle with real life, while the queen of his heart “blesses her bliss” (590.28) and smilingly listens to “her funnyman’s . . . rumbling” (590.28), i.e., his flatulence, reminiscent of Bloom’s musical comment at the end of “Sirens.” The last line: “Tiers. Tiers. Tiers. Rounds.” (590.30) represents a meta-reference to FW itself. On a literal level, it means “tiers of seats and rounds of applause” for this “dumbshow” watched by the world’s audience; while on a structural level it symbolizes the third recorso ending a book (after chapters I.8 and II.4) and the one that is still to come (ch. IV.1) – the finale of the whole “phloem,” the rounding of the square. In conclusion, I would like to remark the fact that, after having been observed for 35 pages, HACLEP can finally observe Joyce himself, as implied by the line: “Two me see” (590.24, i.e. two people see me) containing the Italian soundsense for “thou,” so that the global meaning is “thou see me.” And indeed, after repeatedly experiencing this chapter, I think I can see him now as he wanted to be seen.
- Joyce’s View – Rejoyce in Peace
According to James Atherton, the theological conception at the base of FW is one where the original sin was committed not by Man, but in fact by God Himself, as the only entity possessing the power and freedom to do so. He also remarks that this theory was by no means original, having always been upheld through the centuries by unorthodox intellectuals among the circles of theological speculation. Following this line of thinking, God created the Cosmos in His likeness: of astounding beauty but also hopelessly flawed, pervaded as it is by evil. Indeed, in order to shape such an imperfect world, evil must have been part of His essence, that He bequeathed Man wholly: noble, generous and self-sacrificing, in potentia – but also driven by ravenous self-interest toward falsehood, injustice and violence. Starting from the premise of a fallible God, Joyce outlined every human type in FW as consequently fallible and exposed to sin and failure, but perpetually capable of redemption, like the mythical Phoenix bird: “ Phall if you but will, rise you must” (4.15ff); “Humbly to fall and cheaply to rise, exposition of failures” (589.17, containing HCE’s acronym). This dynamics of sinful fall and virtuous rise, death, and resuscitation, repeats “ad infinitum, whirled without end to end” (582.19ff), because it is congenital to Man, inherited directly from God – whose creatures all bear the “browbrand” (582.31), the stigma of sin passed on to them by the “Cainmaker” (583.28). Consequently, of each and every living thing it can indeed be predicated: “All that is still life with death inyeborn” (585.17). As discussed in precedence, human imperfection is symbolized in FW through physiological functions. But there is yet another consequence of God’s original sin in Man, i.e. Oedipal love. In point of fact, it is when peeking inside Issy’s room that HCE found himself “on the verge of selfabyss” (40.23). Till then, he had always avoided becoming conscious of this sinful inheritance by means of a transfer process, as we realize considering that the two maids stand for his wife and daughter – the women of his family for whom he feels deep attraction; while the three soldiers symbolize the parts of his psyche – Id, Ego and Super-ego: the first and more powerful spurring him on, the second observing and the third censuring him. Therefore, in FW the prototypical man is HCE, who not only shares God’s nature, but is one and the same with Him, as shown by the countless passages where HCE is characterized using attributes proper to the divine principle. This proceeding is truly ubiquitous in the book, mirrored by the majority of HCE’s pseudonyms, as shown by the following three instances: in “a jolly fine daysent form of one word” (578.14), this “one word” is the hundred-letter word symbolizing God’s voice, the Vichian thunder; HCE is a “host,” a term summing up his triple nature: divine (as a transubstantiated particle), human (as innkeeper) and sordid (from the Latin “hostis”: enemy); “that Boggey Godde, be airwaked” (560.14ff), where HCE is again depicted as sordid (“bog”), divine (“God”) and human (“Earwicker” is HCE’s nickname). Although Joyce’s conception of God reaches its most mature formulation in FW , it is already present in Ulysses , where Stephen defines the divine as “a shout in the street” (“Nestor”) and where God is equaled to his literal specular, the polymorphous dog of “Proteus” and “Circe” – which indicates that divine is in fact everything in between. To my mind, Joyce first developed this theological view and only in a second time did he search for philosophical formulations to support and complement it, as he did adopting Vico’s principle of cyclical time and Bruno’s doctrine of the identity of contraries. As a matter of fact, Vico provided him an additional theory to rationalize the eternal circle of Man’s fall and rise; while Bruno allowed him to further validate the stance that Man is in dissonance with himself, a host to opposing and complementary principles. This opposition is best embodied by the twins, in perennial conflict but fundamentally “sameas” (483.4). Their superficial clash of personalities can be transcended only in conjunction with the figure of HCE – as Hegelian thesis and antithesis are unified in the synthesis – so that, together, father and sons form the male human trinity of FW . Jerry and Kevin are often compared to Isaac’s twin sons, Esau and Jacob, like in the passage: “Jerry Jehu . . . you cannot see whose heel he sheepfolds in his wrought hand” (563.7-9), where reference is made to the biblical account of their birth, according to which Jacob was born holding his elder twin’s heel – an omen confirmed later in life, when he deceitfully wrung Esau’s primogeniture. In the same way, Jerry yields to Kevin because he is not interested in and does not want to be bound by material things. Indeed, their characters are apparently unalike: “Major bed, minor bickhive” (561.7), i.e., Jerry is an introverted artist, wasting his time in otium literarium , while Kevin is extroverted and productive like a bee. Nonetheless, as they embody complementary aspects of human nature, they are intrinsically one and the same, participating in the eternal game of love and sharing the universal destiny of war and religion, le rouge et le noir . Another way to understand their sameness is to examine the origin of the name “Shem” (Jerry’s alias), connected to that of “Samuel.” The latter stems from the Hebrew “Shemu’El” meaning “his name is God” – where “shem” is “name” and “El” abbreviates “Elohim” (“God”). Although “Samuel” contains one of the twins, it is very often used in wordplay with “same” to indicate not only both sons, but also: human race, our imperfect God and the never-ending story of Man’s fall and rise (“There extand by now one thousand and one stories, all told, of the same,” 5.28ff). Why should it be so? Because this wordplay originates from Sanskrit, where “sa” is the prefix for likeness, identity and sameness, hence “sama” (“equal”), “samaja” (“society”), “samajatandra” (“democratic”) and “samasa” (“compound word”), the latter being the hundred-letter word representing HCE, our triple-natured God: sordid (“Sordid Sam,” 49.21), human (“the labyrinth of their samilikes and the alteregoases of their pseudoselves,” 576.32ff) and divine (“ Sam knows miles bettern me how to work the miracle,” 467.18ff). In sum: “The same. Three persons” (478.29). Regarding the importance of Sanskrit in FW , here I can only hint at the fact that it exerted a great fascination on the author. It appealed to Joyce the linguist because it stems directly from Proto-Indo-European, the common ancestor of all existing languages. Unlike Greek and Latin, though, with which it is genetically related, Sanskrit lives on as India’s religious language. In this role, it also appealed to Joyce the writer, who intended FW as a sacred book to lead people toward peace via a deeper understanding of human nature. The “samuraised twimbs” (354.24, i.e., battling but born and raised as one) are not alone in being double, because their sister Issy also forms a couple with her mirror reflection, whom she nicknames “Sosy because she’s sosiety for [her]” (459.10, containing the Italian “sosia”: perfect replica). This is how Issy talks about her “linkingclass girl: she’s a fright . . . in her sleeptalking when I paint the measles on her and mudstuskers to make her a man. We. We.” (459.4-6, punctuation mine), i.e., her double represents her masculine part, emerging in moments of diminished consciousness, like in sleep, play and love. The fact that Issy’s double embodies her manly side should not come as a surprise, since the twins also reproduce this polarity: if Shaun (Kevin’s alias) is defined as “eunique!” (562.33, i.e., a unique eunuch), it is because his name stems from the Hebrew “Shawn,” a feminine person’s name meaning “God is gracious.” Issy and the Maggies interconnect by way of the name “Margaret,” which for them plays the role “Samuel” plays for Shem and Shaun. Indeed, in the same way in which the “samilikes” (i.e., all men) are extensions of the twins on a world scale, the Maggies (i.e., all women) are extensions of Issy – starting from her mirror reflection, who bears in turn many names, all variations on “Margaret.” In order to understand why, we must look at the etymology of this name, coming from the Greek “margarites” (“pearl, jewel”). This meaning was passed on to Latin (like in the adage: nolite mittere margaritas ante porcos ), until in the late Middle Ages, with romance languages, “margarita” came to indicate a “daisy,” that in Italian is still “margherita.” Another reason why “Margaret” lent itself to indicate Issy’s twin as well as the Maggies, is because it is extremely pliable to linguistic manipulation, since it can be abbreviated, varied, and translated in a number of ways, also in combination with “Mary,” so that it is easy to find an original variant for each of the twenty-eight girls – among whom the most prominent is the Bostonian cousin Maggy, the addressee of ALP’s letter (the “letterpaper originating by transhipt from Boston,” 111.9). Having explained the origin and meaning of their name, the Maggies acquire a more definite characterization as simple, resistant flowers like those surviving war and destruction in Edgar Quinet’s quote (281.4-13) on historical development, all the more significant since it is the only passage in FW written in natural language. The sense of the citation is that, although single flowers are transient, yet as Nature’s expressions they last longer than Man and his artifacts, so that after cities have been destroyed and civilizations annihilated, flowers continue to grow and flourish. Joyce’s comment to Quinet is: “Margaritomancy! Hyacinthinous pervinciveness! Flowers.” (281.13), that I interpret as indicating not only the power of divination traditionally attached to daisies, but also the wish for a just and peaceful society, symbolized by the “pervasively winning” “Hyacinthinous.” This flower is an androgynous creature, since the Italian “giacinto” is one of the very few blossoms with a masculine name, while its English version includes the Greek root hy-, suggesting both the feminine principle (“hysteros”) and the figure of speech hysteron-proteron (literally “the last comes first”), whose evangelical reverberations also sound like a wish for a more equitable future. The “flowers” are of course the Maggies, interconnecting with peace here as they do in Ulysses , especially in the figure of Bloom, “the new womanly man” (“Circe”) who dreams of a perfect “Flowerville” (“Ithaca”) and who, with unusual daring, professes his credo among blind and violent nationalists: “Force, hatred, history, all that. That’s not life for men and women, insult and hatred. And everybody knows that it’s the very opposite of that that is really life. – What? says Alf. – Love, says Bloom. I mean the opposite of hatred.” In FW , this pacification is possible only through ALP and the principles she represents. She comes “from the proletarian class” (575.5) and talks “in her pigeony linguish” (584.3, i.e., pidgin English). Therefore, more than HCE, she represents that impelling urge to achieve social justice which permeates FW . This is because their instincts are different: “peg of his claim and pride of her heart” (577.16). Having to provide for his family, HCE is more self-centered and egotistical by nature, although he makes his business “sweetheartedly” (579.6), with an eye to the common good and to those less fortunate than himself: “making party capital out of landed self-interest, light on a slavey but weighty on the bourse” (589.8ff), according to that rule of his home saying: “share the wealth and spoil the weal” (579.16ff). On the other hand, ALP is the prototypical mother, taking pride in loving her family and dispensing that amor matris (subjective objective genitive) that Stephen in Ulysses extols as the only real form of love. Indeed ALP, being maternally generous, symbolizes Latin pietas , Buddhist compassion, Wakean pity – recurring virtually in every description of her, like in the beautiful: “Allaliefest, she who pities very pebbles” (562.7), where the pebbles of the river are also the peoples of the world. As previously remarked, HCE’s triple wish (562.8-11) is addressed to the feminine trinity composed by the women of his house: ALP, Issy and Issy’s double: that they may live freely, follow their heart and find protection in themselves – which evidently expresses a yearning for gender justice, another pivotal principle embodied by ALP. It is noteworthy that in FW , sexual liberation is preliminary to women’s freedom, and this in turn is connected in causal relation with peace, like at 568.5, “Have peacience, pray you! Place to dames!” Indeed, peace cannot be maintained with the variables of political calculation (“Scant hopes . . . to escape life’s high carnage of semperidentity by subsisting peasemeal upon variables,” 582.14-16), completely inconsistent if applied to the wisdom of human flesh, whose basic needs must in all case take priority over the rapacious interests of “the upper ten,” trying to exploit “the lower five” (589.18ff). Thus, we must “be ware of duty frees” (576.35), i.e., beware of those who proclaim to be perfect (“duty” euphemistically indicating physiological functions, symbol of sin in FW ). Unlike them, we should recognize human needs and appease them: “But pray, make! Do your easiness!” (571.19), as we should be aware of our defective nature and show compassion on it (“pity shown,” 585.12), which is the only way to attain peace, i.e., heaven on Earth: “O peace, this is heaven!” (571.20). Joyce has a clear image of how this earthly heaven should look like, namely, like his FW , whose features and structure mirror the Heavenly Jerusalem – a biblical symbol of the perfection toward which God wants to lead human history. The City of God is portrayed in the Apocalypse as a perfect cube, its height equaling its length and breadth, surrounded by four walls set with gems, whose twelve foundations are precious stones and whose twelve gates are made of pearl. The City has no temple, for God dwells with the righteous that are admitted into it, whose names are written in the book of life. From God’s throne in the middle of the City issues the river of living water that fertilizes the desert and nourishes the tree of life growing along its banks, whose twelve branches bear twelve different kinds of fruit and whose leaves are “for the healing of the nation” [22.2]. Given this description, the parallels with FW are easily traced. The City is represented by the whole book as well as by its hero HCE, “Gothgorod father” (565.21), where the Russian “gorod” means “city” and “goth” unites “God” and “moth”, that is, an earwig, hence Earwicker. The four books of FW correspond to the four walls; the Maggies are the pearly gates; ALP is the living river (“a clear springwell,” 571.2); Shaun the “sinningstone” (564.30) stands for the foundations; while the tree of life is both Shem “talkingtree” (564.30) and FW itself, “the letter” he “penned” (93.24ff). The tree of FW has branches that are bookish ramifications (“the bookstaff branching,” 571.5) casting mysterious spells that can be spelled with the aid of love (571.5-7). The pages of FW represent the healing leaves of the biblical tree, as we see in the last one of them: “My leaves have drifted from me. All. But one clings still. I’ll bear it on me. To remind me of. Lff!” (628.6ff). But, unlike the biblical book of life, FW excludes no-one from the earthly heaven, since it virtually contains every existing person’s name. Indeed, from FW “are yielded out juices for jointoils and pappasses for paynims” (564.20ff), i.e., all can find spiritual nourishment in it, regardless of their creed – Jews as well as gentiles. This fundamental message of peace is further emphasized by the association of ideas generated superimposing the preceding image with the following one: “Our cubehouse still rocks as earwitness to the thunder of his arafatas but we hear also through successive ages that shebby choruysh of unkalified muzzlenimissilehims that would blackguardise the whitestone ever hurtleturtled out of heaven” (5.14-18). Here, reference is made to the Black Stone, a meteorite fragment kept in the Ka’ba, Mecca’s sacred shrine dedicated to Allah. The stone is believed to have been sent down from heaven to take all human sins upon itself, thus turning from white to black. According to this tradition, the stone will return white only when all peoples are purified from evil and converted to Islam. Paraphrasing the quote, we understand: FW (“Our cubehouse”) acts as a Black Stone, bearing witness to the Word of God (“earwitness to the thunder”). Nevertheless we hear, cyclically through the eras (“we hear also through successive ages”), that despicable choir (“shebby choruysh”) of incompetent (“unkalified”) and violent religious fanatics (a “missile” is inserted into “muzzle- -hims,” that is soundsense for “Muslims”) who would vilify and sully (“blackguardise”) that white stone rolled down (“hurtleturtled”) from heaven. Here it is essential to notice the identification of FW with the Black Stone: since FW also represents the Christian Heavenly Jerusalem, it follows that the two religions are one and the same like the twins, at least in potentia . Hence the condemnation of all religious fanatism, which makes it impossible for the peoples to understand each other, fomenting only war and destruction. This profound message of peace is, I think, of vital importance in moments like the one we are living now, where culture conflict and military potential combined threaten not only to generate an even more inequitable society, but to destroy human civilization in toto .
As a last personal remark on this unprecedented, possibly inimitable masterpiece of world literature, I would like to encourage all “curious dreamers” (577.31) and readers to discover the universal message of the last Joycean text, “that letter self penned to one’s other, that neverperfect everplanned” (489.33ff) sounding painfully prophetic to our modern sensitivity. Obviously, such complex, layered and farsighted works of genius as this is cannot hope to be understood and appreciated by Nobel committees, also because their comprehension may require more than a human life. But unlike those yearly meteoras, they will remain as cornerstones in our culture – part of our collective consciousness, as they intended to be from the beginning.
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