Forget what I said about the last chapter being the strangest – this is definitely stranger. I struggled a bit with this one, but I think the overall gist is that this talks about lots of characters and places, through the guise of a pub quiz. It took me quite a while to come to this conclusion as the first question is twelve and a half pages long. I shall do my best to try to convey to you the twelve questions and answers that make up this chapter, but I am pretty sketchy about it all, quite frankly.
Question One: The only reason I have any idea what the question is, is because the answer is Finn MacCool. But for twelve and a half pages, I have no idea what’s going on, really. There is a lot of talk of parents, ancestors and far-flung family members across the globe. There are some other points of interest:
There is a shopkeeper (who is also a nobleman) who farts on young boys and likes stockings.
The international convention of Catholic midwives is discussed. Sounds super.
The fairground is a good place to find love.
Someone is a drunk and in love with his mother.
There is a very suspicious-sounding priest who either hates religion or is in some way evil.
Someone has their clothes stolen and is found on Whitehorse Hill with some goats.
A man gets hanged and a gardener comes back as a ghost (not sure if they are the same man).
A group of young ladies are displeased when they are pursued by ‘heavy swearsome strongsmelling irregularshaped men’ (But they’re the best kind!)
Answer: ‘Finn MacCool!’
Question Two: ‘Does your mutter know your mike?’
Answer: Has something to do with a lady named Ann, who is pretty, flirty and seems to get around a bit.
Question Three: Absolutely no idea what question three is about.
Answer: ‘Thine obesity, O civilian, hits the felicitate of our orb!’ (Fat guy falls over? Maybe?)
Question Four: Which Irish city (two syllables, 6 letters) is of ‘deltic origin and a ruinous end’ with the biggest park in the world, the most expensive brewing industry, the most well-travelled people and ‘the most phillohippuc theobibbous paupulation’ ?
Answer: Multiple choice! a) Delfas b) Dorhqk c) Nublid d) Dalway My knowledge of Ireland is woefully poor, so I don’t know if this makes sense or not. I think it might be saying that Ireland has the best cities in the world.
Question Five: Another ambiguous one, this. Possibly something to do with the suspect priest from earlier.
Answer: ‘Pore ole Joe!’
Question Six: ‘What means the saloon slogan Summon In The House-sweep Dinah?’
Answer: Could be anything, really, but involves blackcurrant jam, sandwiches and a pot.
Question Seven: This asks about the ‘component partners of society’ and lists many examples of these such as the doorboy, the squeezer, the curman, the mussroomsniffer and the bleaka-blue tramp.
Answer: ‘The Morphios!’ I would like this to be the name of a rock band, but probably refers to drug addicts.
Question Eight: ‘And how war yore maggies?’
Answer: Who/what ever the maggies are seem cheerful types and like life, love and laughter.
Question Nine: Possibly asking how a man who has lost his faith views himself.
Answer: ‘A collideorscape!’ This question and answer almost approaches some sense.
Question Ten: ‘What bitter’s love but yurning, what’ sour lovemutch but a bret burning till shee that drawes doeth smoake retourne?’
Answer: There is a very rambling answer which, by and large, seems to be about sex. It is told in the manner of a man and his wife (possibly in bed together) lamenting the long-lost rumpy-pumpy of their youth. There are some quite graphic bits and I heartily recommend giving this section a read. The man is trying hard to get his leg over, but the wife wishes she had married an engineer from a French college. I can’t work out if he gets his wicked way, but the overall conclusion is that they are still very much in love.
Question Eleven: Best guess is, it asks if you meet a very odd-sounding gentleman called Jones, would you go to bed with him?
Answer: It starts as a resounding no, and this question is quite an affront! But it quickly gets very confusing and then we are in a classroom setting and our narrator takes pity on us: ‘As my explanations here are probably above your understandings, lattlebrattons… I shall revert to a more expletive method which I frequently use when I have to sermo with muddlecrass pupils.’ But things don’t get much clearer as we launch into a tale about The Mookse and The Gripes, the former of which is deaf, the latter blind. They are standing on opposite banks of a stream, which then turns into a ferocious river. The Mookse is carrying his father’s sword. The stream apparently smells of brown. There is a conversation of some kind, during which the Gripes nearly loses a limb. There is a fight. This strange scene is being watched from above by young Nuvoletta, who tries to catch their attention but is unable. For some reason or another, she flings herself into the river and drowns. The Mookse and The Gripes are each carried off by women to invisible dwellings and only a tree and a stone remain by the river.
Question Twelve: ‘Sacre esto?’ a rough translation would be ‘to be doomed’
Answer: ‘Semus sumus!’ When we are!
We have departed from courtrooms, parks, letters and heavy drinking and find ourselves trying to solve twelve riddles. I think that this chapter was introducing further information about characters and their histories, but I have to confess to picking up nothing especially useful. Joyce seems to like writing about sex, but I have to say that his style doesn’t lend itself well to erotica.
‘Let thor be orlog. Let Pauline be Irene. Let you be Beeton. And let me be Los Angeles. Now measure your length. Now estimate my capacity.’
Aw. I wanted to be Los Angeles.
‘…throughout the eye of a noodle, with an ear-sighted view of old hopeinhaven…’
That noodle’s got his eye on you.
‘Roderick, Roderick, Roderick, O, you’ve gone the way of the Danes; variously catalogued, regularly regrouped;’
I like the sound of Roderick.