Sunday, August 15, 2010

Pages 131-33 continued (well, actually, started)

All right. Enough for the copying things out, now for the hard part. I'll start with "his threefaced stone head  was found on a whitehorse hill and the print of his costellous feet is seen in the goat's grass circle". A. recalled seeing a sculpted one in the National Museum in Dublin, in which two heads faced away from each other, Janus style, but one smaller one was nestled in between. I wasn't able to find an image of it, but this article does mention it.

T. asked whether all these clauses have a kind of balanced "on the one hand, on the other hand" kind  of rhythm to them. The answer is no, but it is definitely one of the patterns:"figure right, he is hoisted by the scurve of his shaggy neck, figure left, he is rationed in isobaric patties among the crew". But another style is exemplified in: "harrier, marrier, terrier, tav".

Some clauses we especially liked: "passed for baabaa blacksheep till he grew white woo woo woolly" and "calls upon Allthing when he fails to appeal to Eachovos". And one I liked, but only after grasping the pun from someone else's commentary: "Has the most conical hodpiece of confucianist heronim and that chuchuffuous chinchin of his is like a footsey kungaloo around Taishanty land". One (though only one) way of reading this is, "he had the most comical headpiece of Confucianist "hair on him" and that Chufu chin of his is like Fu-Tse Kung, ie, Kung Fu-Tse, ie. Confucius around  the sacred mountain of Tai Shan.

A couple of things have come up around my researches on these pages. The first is that according to Grace Eckley in her First Question article, which is well worth reading, there is an actual person that brings some unity to this complex figure represented in these clauses, and that is a journalist that we haven't even heard of yet. His name was W. T. Stead, and in order to expose the white slave trade going on in London of 1885, he purchased a girl named Eliza from her mother for five pounds, and mixing it with the story of another stolen girl named Lily, he wrote an article called "The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon". Although some praised him for his expose, many agreed with his arrest and his being brought before a judge for having "deluged London with a quantity of filth". So when we see Flood (or even flood) imagery in the Wake, we are to think of this flood of excrement as well. Much of the trial of HCE and his fallen role relates to this actual man's story. As Eckley has it, Joyce needed an  Everyman figure to play HCE/Finn McCool in contemporary, historical form and Stead provided that. But read the article, you'll see what she's getting at.

The other thing I've gathered is that we've been scanting the importance of Parnell to Joyce a bit. We know he's important, we just don't know how important. There's a good article here. We do know a bit about the fact of his adulterous affair with "Kitty" O'Shea, and how the revelation of this led to his final downfall. But I don't think it's come up yet that before this there was another scandal. In 1887, he was accused of having written letters in support of the murders of two British officials in Phoenix Park (!)in 1882. These letters were finally revealed to be the forgeries of Richard Piggott, "a disreputable anti-Parnellite rogue journalist", who was finally given away by his characteristic spelling of the word "hesitant" as "hesitent". And you will find evidence of Joyce's interest on page 133 in this clause of the riddle: "is unhesitent in his unionism and yet a piggotted nationalist". Now this delights me, because my eyes had run across that "unhesitent" earlier in the day and I wondered about the mispelling, knowing that with Joyce, it could not be accidental. I am just surprised that I was able to unearth the answer so fast.

Poor Richard Piggott, though. After he confessed, he went off to Madrid and killed himself. W.T. Stead, (who was apparently Parnell's opponent, though I have not been able to get to the bottom of his role at Parnell's trial) started a fund to take care of Piggott's children. Stead himself went down on the Titanic, strangely, after writing an article about the need for liners to have more lifeboats.

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