final chapter

Finnegans Wake: Book 4 – The Final Chapter

Everyone take a nice, deep breath – this is the final chapter! Although if you were hoping for any kind of resolution or explanation, you will be disappointed. In fact, as far as final chapters go, it is a little disappointing all round.

Book 4 (which consists of just one chapter) opens with an unknown narrator calling for dawn to break and the people of the world to awaken. Some sort of deity of the dawn talks nonsense for quite a while, mainly concerning inedible yellow meat, the twenty nine schoolgirls and fish. Someone goes away and then comes back again (possibly Shaun).

Eventually, Here Comes Everybody wakes up and is surprised that he has been dreaming. It has apparently been a long, hard night but now the day is coming and will make everything right again. A conflict or battle between night and day ensues, interspersed with details about the transient nature of rivers and the various regenerations of ALP. There is then some discussion about Shaun:

‘Here’s heering you in a guessmasque, letterman! And such an improofment! As root as the mail and as fat as a fuddle!’

‘…night-shared nakeshift with the alter girl they tuck in for sweepsake.’

Shaun is then asked about the crime in the park and his involvement with ALP’s letter. His vague reply states that anything can happen after night fall and only the deers know the truth for sure. Perhaps if we could find one of these deers that might be helpful. But anyway. There is then a lengthy passage concerning the Kevin character, who seems to be a sanctimonious version of Shaun. Saint Kevin becomes a priest and travels along rivers collecting Gregorian water. As you do.

Finally, day triumphs over night and a couple of jaunty chaps named Muta and Juva pop up and talk vaguely about beetles, a king and the story of HCE and ALP. They close with:

‘Muta:  May I borrow that hordwanderbaffle from you, old rubberskin?

Juva:  Here it is and I hope it’s your worming pen, Erinmonker! Shoot.’

A king and a tramp die. ALP seems to be trapped in a miasma of fairytales and dreams:

‘That was the prick of the spindle to me that gave me the keys to dreamland.’

She is surrounded by ‘Impossible to remember persons in unprobable to forget position places.’

ALP now gives us her version of events and her thoughts on her letter. The much discussed (but never seen) letter apparently contained proof that HCE could not have committed the crime in the park, as he was canoodling with a lady named Lily under a grand piano at the time. She speaks surprisingly highly of her philandering husband – ‘Meet a great civilian (proud lives to him!) who is gentle as a mushroom…’ Although, considering her own transgressions, an assignation under a piano seems pretty insignificant. We were warned earlier about the dangers of engaging in romantic pursuits with piano-playing lodgers, perhaps HCE should have been paying attention.

The close of this chapter and, indeed, the book is given over to a plaintive monologue by ALP. She is attempting to wake HCE, who might actually be dead by this point. If he has given up the will to live, I can’t say I entirely blame him. She tries to tempt him to awaken with suggestions of going abroad and she implores him to get up and put on his new big green belt. She then rambles on about ‘two old crony aunts’, who are reminiscent of both the gossiping washerwomen (one of whom turned into a tree) and the tale of the Mookse and the Gripes from Book 1.5. ALP is not fond of these two ladies, amusingly named Queer Mrs Quickenough and Odd Mrs Doddpebble. She also appears to randomly invent the world’s favourite search engine:

‘One chap googling the holyboy’s thingabib and this lad wetting his widdle.’

I wouldn’t advise googling this, but if you do, be sure to clear your search history. Anyway. ALP derides the two women and also the Four Masters. She firmly informs the unresponsive HCE that he must buy her a new girdle, before describing how she will distract herself from his failings by imagining him as an innocent young child – ‘The child we all love to place our hope in forever.’ She is of the opinion that all men make mistakes and all people are prone to failure – ‘It’s something fails us. First we feel. Then we fall.’

As ALP considers dying, she seems to forgive HCE and also herself and calls for a river to carry her home to the sea. The final line appears incomplete, but is in fact the opening fragment of the very first line in the book:

‘A way a lone a last a loved a long the   /

riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious virus of recirculation back to Howth Castles and Environs.’

Thoughts

We did it!! Oh, we have done it, dear, sweet reader – we have completed Finnegans Wake! Of course, this is a mere glancing of the intricate and complex text and does not even begin to scratch the surface of this widely-studied work. With a book where almost every sentence is open to interpretation, it is likely impossible to provide a definitive synopsis. However, the impossible has always been a favourite of mine and I shall have a crack at an overview very shortly. In the meantime, I am off to have a lie down in a dark room – hopefully with a large steak and the biggest glass of wine you have ever seen in your life.

Favourite Lines

‘(for the farmer, his son and their homely codes, known as eggburst, eggblend, eggburial and hatch-as-hatch can)’

The farmer and his son are keen on eggs, I see.

‘He may be humpy, nay, he may be dumpy but there is always something racy about, say, a sailor on a horse.’

I have always thought this myself.

‘Grand old Manbutton, give your bowlers a rest!’

I wonder if this has anything to do with the aforementioned bootybutton?

‘A naked yogpriest, clothed of sundust, his oakey doaked with frondest leoves,’

This summer I shall be mostly wearing sun dust. (Also I wanted the final quote to involve nudity. And a priest.)

Secret Diary Of Terry – The Final Chapter

My lair was indeed alive with the most lavish of preparations for the great celebration of my arrival. People were really making quite the effort – I even saw a lady creature dressed as a princess in a big white dress. For all I knew, an actual princess had decided to take up residence with me. I’m not sure how Onion Flower would feel about that but I am sure she would get used to it in time.

Speaking of Onion Flower, her scent had definitely returned to my new territory. Shouting Whiskey and Cherry Noodle’s, too. She has returned! I imagine she and her friends simply could miss my festivities. The vaguely repugnant creature smells were not the only thing to grace my nostrils, either. My food building was emanating the most fantastic aromas know to cat. This was indeed going to be a wonderful time.

It was whilst idly hunting for Onion Flower that I became somewhat distracted. But what a distraction! I was in the courtyard with an apple tree in it when it caught my eye. Like a fallen star, it nestled in the grime of the gutter, glinting with the remnants of fading hope. A Shiny Thing!

And what a Shiny Thing. It was perfectly round and almost luminous. In its centre was a swirl of colour, like a tiny galaxy dwelling within. Of course, all I could think was that this precious item must be a gift for yours truly. A princess and a Shiny Thing. It almost brought a tear to my eye.

But all was not to be well. Barely moments later, a familiar voice disturbed the moment.

“What have you got there?” came the unmistakable growl of The Master’s Cat. “Get away from it – it is mine!”

“I think you will find that it is very much mine!” I replied with as much indignation as I could muster. Being a cat, that’s quite a lot. “My lair, my Shiny Thing.”

“Foolish boy! This is my lair!”

Was your lair. My lair now.”

The Master’s Cat twitched her tail and rose her flabby hackles. Her hiss was rather vicious, although a little too wet-sounding to be truly chilling. Her cold, green eyes stared through mine and straight into the back of my brain as she extended a defiant paw, reaching for my Shiny Thing. I unleashed my well-practiced and blood-curdling professional hiss, being sure to showcase my fine fangs. The paw did not retreat. In fact, it inched a little closer.

Well, I wasn’t having any of that.

Determined to see the back of this foul fiend for good, I launched my attack. With claws drawn and teeth a-gnashing, my hind quarters unfurled their full kinetic capabilities and I flew at her piggy face, landing a direct hit right across her nose. Wailing like a toddler with a scrapped knee, she turned and fled.

I decided to mount a pursuit, keen to see her off my territory once and for all. She moved with surprising swiftness for such a waddling beast. I tore after her, my ears flattened against my skull and tail rigid with determination. I was barely aware of where I was running, focused entirely on my quarry. She darted into an open doorway and I followed rapidly after.

And how lucky that I did – for she led me straight into the middle of my arrival celebration! The room was full of delighted human creatures, eating and drinking in my honour. Even the princess lady in the big white dress was there and she looked happier than anyone. Marvellous!

The Master’s Cat headed straight towards the huge tables, upon which was laid my own feast. The very nerve of her – first she wants my lair, then my Shiny Thing and now my feast! But her abject terror was evident as she leapt from the tables and straight out of an open window. There was a pause, followed by a low growl and finally, a sort of desperate splash. And then, I heard no more.

Well – even I could not have predicted the extravagance my creatures would go to in order that I might be welcomed to Old College. I was rather taken aback. But I quickly remembered my dignity and hastily began the grooming process, in order to be at my very best for my adoring public.

A minor event – I was briefly reunited with my beloved Onion Flower, but the weightier matter of the Shiny Thing was sitting quite heavily on my mind. I allowed myself a modicum of fuss before politely making my excuses and slipping away. Groomed and feeling very special (it must be said), I returned to find my treasure happily untouched. But I was sure that it would not stay that way for long and decided upon my intent to hide it very carefully.

I experimented with various places of seclusion, an endeavour that took up a good portion of my precious time. But this was an important matter. Eventually, I settled on the cunning ruse of burying the Shiny Thing in one of the few flowerbeds that I had not used for my announcements. Although digging is not a tradition feline activity, I am rather good at it. But just as I was covering over my cherished find, my whiskers detected the unmistakable waft of danger in the air.

Looking up, I saw an evil-smelling elderly gentleman hurtling across the courtyard. He was headed in my general direction and it was most obvious to even a fool that he was after my Shiny Thing! The beast! My suspicions were confirmed when I saw that this creature was being hotly pursued by none other than Onion Flower and Cherry Noodle, evidently intent on putting a stop to this heinous crime. At this point, I deployed the most mysterious and maligned of the feline attributes; an esoteric skill of which even I am not entirely sure of the inward machinations.

With deft nonchalance, I placed myself in the exact position required for tripping the chap, whilst at the same time being in the exact position not to be stepped on. He tumbled with considerable grace into the flowerbed but it was not to detain him for long. He was soon up and running again, my favourite human creatures shouting after him ferociously.

But he left something behind. What it was, I could not tell you, but it had the appearance of a drinking vessel. Its odour I could not distinguish but it spoke to me, in a way – it spoke to me from many, many centuries past. This thing spoke to me of beauty and power, of salvation and of redemption. Although it had a physical form, it was not something of the human realm, I think. Not even the cat realm. Possibly it was something greater even than cat.

How long I gazed at it, I cannot say. Time did not seem to exist in its presence. All I can say is that by the time I thought to get about hiding it (with my Shiny Thing, of course) Onion Flower and her friends had returned. The wicked old fellow was not with them and they all seemed as entranced with the object as I was. Not quite as entranced as they were with me, quite naturally, but they seemed very pleased to see the thing.

Now I had my Shiny Thing and my Onion Flower, there seemed little left to pursue that could make this wonderful day any better. Cherry Noodle had furnished me with a wonderful chin scratch and several pats and even Green Bacon had paid a degree of reverence to my good self. After all the excitement, the only thing I desired now was some peace and a little slumber. Returning to my favourite spot in the organ loft, I soon slipped into a tranquil doze and dreamed the dreams of one very happy kitten who anticipates further great adventures at Old College.