Finnegans Wake: Book 1.4

This chapter finds our eponymous hero Here Comes Everybody seemingly having a dream that he is dead, or a dream that he is Finnegan (who may or may not be dead, despite the fact he has clearly had a wake). Could be both. There is mention of traitors at the wake and HCE is conscious of enemies, either real or imagined (in this book, it makes no difference!) There features the usual array of incomprehensible rambling that talks about coffins, urns, death in general and a watery grave.

The other main component of this chapter is the court case – which I am fairly sure is actually a court case this time as it mentions being back in the Old Bailey in March. The person on trial is someone called Festy King, who I believe to be an incarnation of HCE. Joyce further adds to the confusion surrounding the crime by talking of ‘solving the wasnottobe crime’ and describes someone as being ‘associated with the tar and feather industries…’ So not only am I not entirely sure what the crime was, but it is also difficult to tell whether the crime happened at all, or was a heinous attempt to besmirch the Earwicker name. Previously, I thought that a couple of the jury might had died, which is maybe reinforced by Festy being removed at the request of ‘a few live jurors’ (as opposed to dead ones). But who knows, really.

Anyway, Festy apparently then murders all the English and leaves the court. The end bit is very confused – it says that the trial is over but then describes four judges returning from their chambers and demanding to see a letter. Not just any letter – a letter that was found by a hen. So, not too specific, then. The chapter closes when HCE’s wife, ALP, turns up and recites a poem. Maybe.

Amidst all this, we learn some other interesting things:

Anthony has an unlicensed pig which is later admired by some ladies in a pub. (I am really hoping that ‘unlicensed pig’ isn’t a euphemism).

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These pigs are licensed. Probably.

I think a sailor might have been murdered. It could have been Cian, who was murdered in Finntown, but they could be separate people.

If someone steals your ham, you should garrotte them. Not bad advice, to be fair.

I think I have identified the ambiguous tour guide from the ‘museyroom’ in 1.1 – a widow named Kate Strong, whose presence I have now worked out to be distinguished by the word Tip! being scattered throughout the dialogue. We also learn that she is some kind of scavenger so I am pretty confident that she did earlier steal something from either the museyroom or a shop. Anyway, she might have been in the park at the time of the crime.

Back at the wake, a beggar talks to a miner, who is holding a worm.

Someone threatens someone else with a stick and they fight for a considerable time.

King Crowbar impersonates a climbing boy (nope, me neither).

Thoughts

This section was comparatively straightforward, I thought. There does seem to be something approaching a tangible narrative, at least. And my thoughts on characters being interchangeable and indistinct seem to be backed up a little with the line ‘Later on, after the solstitial pause for refreshment, the same man (or a different and younger him of the same ham)…’ so I am heartened to know that it really doesn’t matter who anyone is. There seems to be a lot of murdering going on, too, which is exciting.

Favourite Lines

‘So more boher O’Connell! though rainy-hidden, you’re rhinohide. And if he’s not a Romeo you may scallop your hat.’

The mention of a hat always pleases me but do you suppose that ‘you’re rhinohide’ is an insult or a compliment?

‘That a head in thighs under a bush at the sunface would bait a serpent to a millrace through the heather.’

I think this is a rude bit.

71 comments

  1. Really. I keep returning to this ‘Wake’ every time I want to Confuse myself. But You are doing good work, keeping Us informed of the pitfalls, my Dear Lucy! Love and Regards. 🙂

  2. Pingback: GOOD LUCK

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