GENETIC JOYCE STUDIES - Issue 13 (Spring 2013)



2 weeks in the life of James Joyce


Robbert-Jan Henkes


The hotel was noisy, dear, dark and dirty. Family hotel it was called and no wonder, holybones of Saint-Martin! Families running in and out, carted in wheelbarrows through the corridors, a child crying in the room next-door. Slamming doors and vibrating windows. Still: classy, especially the front, and the price. Oui oui, the Victoria Palace Hotel, situated in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Montparnasse, with its knowledgeable staff, its air conditioning in public areas (probably referring to the draughty windows and doors), its currency exchange and its elevator (lift), that was continuously grinding up and down outside his door making a helluva racket, had been a landmark on the Left Bank since 1913. There are a great many attractions nearby, including Tour Montparnasse, Luxembourg Palace, Louvre Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral. Vaut le détour indeed, and a big détour preferably. How could he work like that?


On the other hand: he had always worked best surrounded by honest to God activity. The noise of life. In the soundtight tomb that Larbaud had offered him, he wasn’t able to do a thing.

– Giorgio, figlio mio, what’s the news? Did you find us a flat?

– No babbo.

Tenor. Just like his dad and granddad. No way a bass or baritone. They would find out at the Schola Cantorum soon enough.

– Do you know what to say?

– Yes babbo. Je cherche un appartement de cinq ou six pièces, trois chambres, salon, salle à manger, eccetera e così via.

– And money’s no objection.

Not since July when Harriet Shaw Weaver had presented him, during his holiday in Bognor Regis on the English Mediterranean, with a new gift of £ 12,000 to ensure the free flow of his creative mind. What would he be without his protectresses? From swerve of Shaw to bend of Beach, they came to the restyours.

But the flat-hunting was turning into a wild goose chase that would make a Hottentot sick. Home was where the hotel was, for the time being. Some form of Indian thaumaturgy needed to be applied to find a flat.


The heat was unusual, as it had been for the entire month. Temperatures were well into the thirties. They had fled to Tours for a week to escape the suffocating metropolis, but Tours was hardly any better, especially in the place they stayed, the hotel of the Universe no less, built in the purest style haussmannien facing the Hôtel de Ville, a truly historic boutique hotel, with gift shop, hair salon, and multilingual staff ever ready to provide room service, safety deposit boxes, a laundry service and obsequious advice. A perfect starting point to discover the castles in the Loire Valley. Great! Except that they didn’t go anywhere, except back to Paris post-haste.

Returning on the 3d of September, they found the streets littered with rubble and glass from broken windows: another révolution? No, in their absence a huge thunderstorm had dechimneyfied parts of Paris. This close shave with the ouragan was about the only thing that he could remember as being on the positive side for 1923. For the rest it was turning into a miserable year.

– We seem to be sinking deeper into the morass.

Paris! It might be the last of the human cities, the climate was a Methodist minister’s dream of purgatory.


In cafés his prickly boutades got him embroiled in fisticuffs. Some weeks ago he almost had a parapluie planted in his delicate toothless mouth. ‘Hemingway! Where are you when your king and country need you?’ But the Hemingways had left for Toronto and wouldn’t be back for at least half a year.

No more bouts of binge drinking till Paris s’éveille, the couple being welcomed in the early hours of the dawn by Nora on the doorstep: ‘Well here comes James Joyce the author, drunk again with Ernest Hemingway!’

No matter, he could always drink himself into a gloomy stupor on his own. And shout, after many an interminable silence, to no-one in particular, ‘I made them take it!’


A hitherto unknown picture of Joyce in front of the Victoria Palace Hotel, September 1923


At three he had an appointment with his oculiste extraordinaire, the American Dr. Borsch, in the Rue du Cherche-Midi. Cherchez my RIA and just about anything. Luckily the Clinique was just around the corner from the Blaise Desgoffe, so he could grope his way in its general direction. Recovery from the fourth eye operation in April was slow and painful. He could hardly read, he could hardly write. At first he had to dictate to Nora, or scrawl big loops with a fusain of charcoal. And now a further operation was already being scheduled, an iridectomy and a cataract extraction for his hyperometric eyes. He would have to exchange his hotel bed for a bed in the rusty, dusty and dilapidated clinic, as patched as his one eye, with a single light bulb dangling from the ceiling of his skull, always living with the impression it was evening. And what about this Ulysses, which was causing such a silent uproar among the cognoscenti and lovers of pornography? The succès de scandale was hardly worth the succès d’estime. Joyce clattered his permanent plate, which was permanently on the move in his mouth. Yes, Jim, you made them take it. They all swallowed Ulysses. Now take a rest.


He was ‘on another book again’, as Nora whispered to her sister Kathleen in a mixture of shock and awe, exasperation on the one hand, resignation on the other. Yes, the leopard had lost his teeth – the last seventeen rotten ones were pulled lock stock and barrel preparatory to the sphincterectomy in April – but not his spots. There was no sabbath for nomads or writers, let alone writing nomads. He had brought from his July holiday in Bognor Regis on the English coast 1) a large green suitcase and 2) the idea for a fifth sketch. He was now writing 2) on top of 1), having drawn the window blinds in his hotel apartment against the stifling heat, which didn’t help much.


For Jim and Nora’s youngest sprite there would be a show tonight at the patrons’ place. Lucia dear, sweet sixteen, would daunce and synge to loud clapplause. And an encore as Charlie Chaplin in The Kid, twirling cane, bowler hat and flapfeet. She was turning into a regular heifer, quirkily peculiar ever since this summer on holiday camp she had been presented to the King of Spain in person, FW – the same Alfonso XIII who a few months later would assist in an army coup in his own country, apparently having gone mad over being presented to Lucia. Yes, pappa’s nuvoletta, in the glorifires of being presainted maid to majesty, was behaving curiouser and curiouser.


What was this new book that he was on to be becoming? What was it about to be about? It was to be a family album, the family being the family of man, exemplified in a small number of protagonists. History being nothing more than the long and confused dream of mankind, as Schopenhauer said, the new book could well be called a Universal History of the World and Environs. But who and how many was still a matter of deliberation and congealing. A male hero was slowly emerging from the shady fumes of formation. Starting out as King Roderick O’Connor as a publican in the first sketch, he became ‘Pop’ in the notebooks and slowly collected unnameable, unspeakable crimes, sources of calumny and slander. ‘It is not true that Pop was homosexual,’ Joyce cribbed, adapting from Frank Harris’ book on Oscar Wilde, ‘he had been arrested at the request of some nursemaids to whom he had temporarily exposed himself in the Temple gardens.’ (VI.B.3.153a) When Joyce in Bognor had decided on a name for his hero, Humphrey Coxon, soon to be Chimpden Earwicker (alias in his first incarnation Here Comes Everything, subsequently Everybody), the Ur-misdemeanor expanded balloon-like: ‘HCE capable of any crime’ (VI.B.2.003j) and ‘HCE instigates all’ (VI.B.2.109c). His lawful consort, ‘Mom’, led a sketchy but as yet unsketched existence, but was to be a ‘letterwriter’ (VI.B.3.123d). As for children, there was Issy, as one of the Isoldes of the Tristan myth: in fact, she was born, or at least conceived before her father Pop, deep in the grey matter of the author of their days. Issy was a girl with a quirky and splitting potential.


Further leading actors were to grow out of the protagonists of the hagiographic sketches Joyce was composing. The sketches were to be the base-camps for his deep-mountaineering efforts, the nodes for his spider’s web. But even the sketches had false starts. An early sketch featured rugby champ ‘Smiling Johnny’ as Tristan, proposing to Isolde by enumerating all his former lovers, mainly French. A second sketch that didn’t make it past a first draft stage had an Issy-like girl setting fire to a copy of the Irish Times to clean the chimney, after which, “when it was sneezing cold,” in a gesture worthy of St. Martin of Tours, she gave her petticoat to a beggar-girl in the park, “she having been in point of fact Saint Dympna. ” It isn’t clear why this sketch with Dympna or Dymphna, the patron saint of lunatics, wasn’t elaborated. The heroes of two other sketches, St. Patrick and St. Kevin would eventually fuse into family protagonists, but who exactly, only time would tell. There was no sign yet of the terrible twins Shem and Shaun.


The locality of the action was also beginning to become visible through the haze. In the previous notebook we encounter for the first time “Finn’s Hotel”, followed by “the house that Finn built” (VI.B.25.156). The Hotel, in real Dublin life the place where Nora worked as a chambermaid when Jimmie met Nora, quickly acquires a life of its own and becomes “F.H. parl” [parliament]” (VI.B.2.42d), “Flying House (F.H.)” (VI.B.2.094b) – and, even more ambitiously, a place where “W. [women] talk from various stages (the centuries) children play in courtyard / it becomes barracks hospital etc, museum” (VI.B.2.092f-093a).


Having begun, he didn’t know where it would end. But do we ever know what we are creating? Where do branches grow, from the beginning or from the end? The book was unplanned and slowly forming itself, subject to the constant emotional promptings of his personality, and the exigencies of the story that wanted to be born.

And now? Irish nuns killed in earthquake. Mussolini invades Ithaca. Belgium invades Africa. Germany issues a fifty million mark banknote. Disappointing pig prices at Charleville. Broadcasting in the Free State. The drink evil in Ireland: special legislation urged.

– Nora, will you read me something else?

Hyperopic Joyce, one eye bandaged and the other shining blue behind a thick glass which made it look as big as a cow’s, waved his befingered hand somewhere in the distance. Nora went over to where he was waving, the stackpiles of recent acquisitions behind the sofa, while he delved into the right sidepocket of his blue jacket and took out a superior Conté ceramic lead pencil, hardness 2B, and his inseparable simple “Mag-nis” stenographer’s tablet, measuring 18.5 x 13.5 centimeters (as trimmed), with a plain tan, heavy paper cover and 50 sheets (200 pages) of unlined, unnumbered, refined pulp paper, stapled twice in the center and folded in half horizontally to form the tablet, which he balanced carefully on the jagged leather elbowrest of his armchair.


Notebook VI.B.2, before loss of its cover (photo: POR Psychophysical Object Recoveries)


To posterity this notebook has become known under the mellifluous name of VI.B.2, Finnegans Wake notebook at Buffalo VI.B.2, pleased to meet you. We will dub it ‘Nativities’ after the first (or one of the first) notes on the first (cover verso) page, on which Joyce notes the ‘nativités’ of a number of family friends, namely Sylvia Beach, Dorothy and Ezra Pound, Helen and Myron Nutting, and Richard and the jolly but shallow Lillian Wallace, the only one outside his closeknit family to call him ‘Jim’.

And a good name it is too for this inconspicuous bloc-note, hovering over the inception of the Wake like a drone over Yemen. Here we find Joyce’s very first purposeful reading, the first book he picked up and studied to flesh out the material he had written by then. The early sketches in their pristine first drafting involved no notebook use, no research, no recourse to external sources. The Tristan & Isolde notes that Joyce took from Ezra Pound’s Instigations for instance postdate, and went in after the first draft of the sketch.[1]


The stack with (some of the) books that Joyce read from the end of August to the middle of September 1923 - Collection Books at the Wake Robbert-Jan Henkes


* * *


I. William Bullen Morris, The life of Saint Patrick


‘Nativities’ was filled in about a month, from late August to late September 1923, as accepted wisdom has it. Focusing on the first half of the notebook, we can assume that it comprises the reading fruits of two weeks. Two weeks in the life of one James Joyce. Two weeks worth of textual diaries. The notebook starts with notes taken from William Bullen Morris, The Life of Saint Patrick, Apostle of Ireland: with a Preliminary Account of the Sources of the Saint’s History (sixth edition, 1908). Joyce read this book after he finished and sent off his Patrick sketch to Harriet Shaw Weaver on the 2nd of August. What for? Because the sketches, as he wrote to Harriet Weaver were “not fragments but active elements and when they are more and a little older they will to begin to fuse of themselves” (9 October 1923). If Patrick was to be a protagonist, Joyce had to sow patrician seeds throughout the book. The fusing of the fragments would be accomplished through a) the assignment of archetypal family memberships to the protagonists of the sketches, and b) the distribution of relevant lexical and biographical material of the protagonists in the book to establish thematic continuity. Joyce was reading for future incorporation of his notes, as well as for conceptual sparks. Not for fun? That was the fun. Ah.

Morris’ The Life of Saint Patrick is the first in a long array of lives of the patron saint of Patrick’s Day that Joyce would eventually read. Biographies by Kinane, Bury, Fleming, Dottin and many others he tilled during his summer holiday in Brittanny the following year. This one is a nihil obstat & imprimatur biography: Fr. Morris explicitly states that only a true and faithful servant of the Lord is able to understand Patrick’s manifold miracles, and hence can be his biographer. The credulity was a nihil obstat for Joyce, who read the biography dutifully from start to finish. The 303 plus xviii pages yielded 73 notes, of which seven went into the manuscripts through this notebook and another six from the transcription of Mme Raphael. It is a humble start. Joyce is still a bit unsure of his aims: he carefully notes the contents of the biography, and rarely adapts what he reads, as his wont will be later. In only one note do we see him making a tentative and tenuous link to an older sketch. Morris writes that “from the days of Cimboeth to those of Laeghaire and St. Patrick, the history of Ireland is little more than a catalogue of wars.” And Joyce notes, apparently attempting to get his King-pubkeeper Roderick into the equation: “Irish kings / Cimboeth to Rory / BC 289 – ?‚ / Irel cloistered by wars.” This note may be considered as a very early first effort at fusing his active elements.


The notes that made it into Finnegans Wake seem to shine in unobtrusiveness, but is this actually so? Are they triely and rurally so bland and non-revealing of their origins? I give three instances.


1) In chapter I.4, Earwicker is lying low trying to escape from his detractors, “the plain being involved in darkness” (79.01). This derives from Morris’ account of the battle of bewitchment between Patrick and the Druid Luchat Mael: “In the contest which followed, God allowed the magician to exercise strange and preternatural powers, which turned in the end to his own confusion. By his spells and incantations he brought snow upon the ground up to the men’s girdles, and involved the whole plain in darkness, but he could neither remove the snow nor dispel the darkness, both of which disappeared at the prayer of Patrick.”


2) The Wakean “dividual chaos” into which Shem is reflecting “from his own individual person life unliveable” (186.02-05) derives, partly, from a poem by De Vere, quoted in Morris, in which the poet in his mind’s eye sees ‘This nation, from the blind dividual dust / Of instincts brute, thoughts driftless, warring wills’ etcetera ‘shall to God stand true.’ Joyce notes: “dividual dust” (006g) – the “chaos” he plucked from Foote’s Bible Romances, the next book he read.


3) Shaun the Post (or Jaun the Boast) departs on his postman’s mission with a wish: “I bless alls to the whished panroman apological which Watllwewhistlem sang to the kerrycoys.” (469.24-26). Saint Patrick, Morris recounts, made a tour of Ireland but was never in Clare or Kerry. He only sent his wellwishes. “Even to the present day, Irish-speaking people are often heard to say to persons situated to the west of them, ‘Bennaigim uaim siar sibh mar adubairt Naem Patraic las na Ciarraidib’ (‘I bless you all to the West, as St. Patrick said to the Kerrymen’) (217n). Joyce’s “kerrycoys” can be fairly easily deciphered as Kerryboys, but the transfiguration of Saint Patrick into “Watllwewhistlem” is a harder nut to crack.


The question is: Are the references to Saint-Patrick still implicit in the final text? Is the link to the source any help? Is it pertinent? Would Joyce consider it pertinent? What do we know when we know the source texts? Is knowledge worth knowing? These are the questions I will try to answer.


Joyce, in conversation with Frank Budgen, expressed his surprise when his friend enthused over a piece of writing without knowing it by heart. Joyce’s memory was of the iron pot variety, as everyone who knew him could testify. Budgen notes that he knew by heart long stretches of Byron, Flaubert, Newman, De Quincey, Balfour, “and many others” . In hospital, both eyes patched, he trained his memory by learning even more by heart. But not only literature did his memory retain. He had an insatiable appetite for words in general and he wanted to know everything, from buttermilk and Icelandic sweaters to the French names of positions in football. When, on the 14th of April 1923, just before his complete dental removal, he went to see a rugby match between Ireland and France, in the Stade de Colombes for the Five Nations Cup, he immediately knew by heart the names of the Irish side and years later he could rattle them off to William Fallon. (France beat Ireland 14-8.) On the Irish side, two brothers Dick and William Collopy were playing. When one year later, on the 21st of May 1924, Joyce read their names again in a funeral report of J.T. Magee, ‘Well-Known Journalist and Athlete’ in the Freeman’s Journal, in a list of 136 attendants from ‘the general public’, including familiarly ringing names such as Dr. H. Tweedy, M. Cogan, R.J. Molloy, R. Flood (of Bective, F.C.), J.J. Coffey, R.M. Hooper, M.P. Byrne, V. & M.F. Linehan, J.P. Nannetti and B.R. Doran. If this sounds like an index to Ulysses, it is because Ulysses is an index to Dublin.


Remembering the rugby match, Joyce picked the Collopy brothers out of this long list and noted their names as “SS Collopy” (Owldeed VI.B.5.018i). Some months later he harboured them in Shaun’s Lenten lecture to Issy, in the vicinity of other rugby references, such as the Bective Rangers (451.10) and the Stade de Colombes (446.17-18). By this time Tristan the rugby champ was slowly growing into Shaun the Post, and any rugby references that Joyce cared to note would henceforward bear the Shaun sign.


If Joyce’s memory was so prodigious to contain the names of entire Irish rugby teams, and keep them for years, it is not strange to think that the blessing for the “kerrycoys” would always be connected to Patrick in Joyce’s mind, and that “Whatllwhistlem” would for him always remind him of Saint Patrick. Likewise, the telling detail of a “plain being involved in darkness” would also be a clear and direct, unmistakable reference to the life story of the saint. The “dividual” is another case: Joyce welded it to the word “chaos” and wedged it seamlessly into the Shem-character. Here the denotation probably takes precedence over the connotation. But for quite some of the Wakean insertions that we, ordinary fallible and forgetful human wakeologists, at first, second and third sight would deem to be all too bland and hardly revealing of their source and original context, for Joyce the connection would always be living, throbbing, thriving, real.


* * *


II. G.W. Foote, Bible Romances


G.W. Foote (1850-1915) is mentioned in the recent standard work on Joyce and irreligiosity, Geert Lernout’s Help My Unbelief, with a mighty true quote: “Searching the scriptures is the best cure for believing the Scriptures”. This had held true for Stannie Joyce, who, according to legend and Wyse Jackson & Costello (227), with a thud fell from his belief when he actually read the Bible, a copy of which the family had retrieved from an ash-pit in their backyard. This Bible had belonged to the previous inhabitants, who were protestants, for catholics never read the Bible and why should they? The word of the Pope, or his local locum tenens, the parish priest, was and still is good enough.

In Help My Unbelief, the cluster of anticlerical notes in ‘Nativities’ is mentioned, but without the source, as it was still undiscovered. The book “seems to have contained a rather unorthodox interpretation of the biblical account of Genesis and of the gospel.” (Lernout, 194). Unorthodox, yes, and very amusing too. The sixteen chapters, spanning the old and new testament, were, it seems, all published earlier, in Foote’s subversive magazine The Freethinker or elsewhere, and brought together they give a devastating view of the reprehensible mess of the Bible, no matter whether the Bible stories are taken literally or figuratively – as moral examples they stink even more. Foote’s occasional flippancy is more than redeemed by a thorough knowledge of what he is talking about, as well as a fine feeling for the absurd, and an axe of some description to grind.


George William Foote (1850-1915) was an indefatigable freethinker, founder of many a militant magazine, a prisoner for the cause (one year with hard labour on a blasphemy conviction), and for twenty-five years the President of the National Secular Society. He founded the Pioneer Press in 1908, which published books and pamphlets with alluring titles, many of them in the form of (rhetorical) questions, such as Does Man Survive Death?, Jesus Christ: Man, God or Myth?, with a chapter on Was Jesus a Socialist?, Christianity and Slavery, Sex and Religion, The Historical Jesus and Mythical Christ, Mistakes of Moses, Is Suicide a Sin?, The Jewish Life of Christ, Who was the Father of Jesus?, Man and His Gods, Prayer, its Origin, History, and Futility, and God-Eating, a Study in Christianity and Cannibalism. Joyce kept this last pamphlet for reading after this promising work of Foote’s.


The Bible Romances presents an assorted mêlée of absurdities and inconsistencies, and pits the Biblical accounts against older mythologies as well as against common sense. The subjects range from the Creation story, Eve and the apple, Cain and Abel and Jonah and the Whale to the Tower of Babel, Lot’s Wife, the Ten Plagues, the Wandering Jews and the Jewish God in the Box. Special chapters are devoted to Bible animals and Bible Ghosts, and the final salvos are directed at the Virgin Mother, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection.

Needless to say that Foote’s viewpoint differs from Morris’s as black from white. Joyce, with his catholic taste, could digest both.


He read with relish: 111 notes for a book of 224 pages is well above average. What’s more, fourteen notes he could use soon after, and another eleven were salvaged through the transcription of Mme Raphael. The first note was “chaos”, taken from page 8 of Foote’s crusade: “What is the meaning of ‘create’? Was it the production of what is called ‘chaos,’ or the formation of the chaos into a cosmos? Christian writers like the late Mr. Gladstone still speak of ‘chaos,’ but of course it is inconceivable.” Joyce welded it with the “dividual” of Morris when Joyce sketched his Shem episode in January 1924.

The second note – but no, let’s skip to the third note. The third note, ...

– I’d like to know about the second note.

– Do you want me to give all 111 notes the full explanatory treatment?

– Why not?

– Impossible. The third note, ...

– But what was the second? You’re making me curious!

– It would take too long.

– You don’t want to tell me? Is it a secret?

– No, it’s just less interesting.

– Can’t I decide for myself if it’s less or more interesting or not? O come on! For f—

– O, all right, I’ll tell you, if you promise to back off for a while.

– It’s a deal.

– The second note, never used, and not half as interesting as either the first or the third, says “all things beside” ...

– What do you mean ‘not half as interesting’? I like it!

– O shut up. And it derives from the same passage of the Bible Romances, page 8-9 and I quote, in full, for your convenience and delectation: ...

– Thank you too much.

– “The learned Burton [8] however, agrees with Mosheim, ‘that the Jews in ancient times, who reflected at all, never entertained any other view than that God created the world out of nothing.’ The same view is held by Bishop Pearson. ‘Antecedently to all things beside,’ he says, ‘there was at first nothing but God, who produced most part of the world formerly made of nothing.’” Satisfied?

– Very. Pity it wasn’t used. It sounds like vintage Earwickeresque Irish bull, very oxymorose, this “antecedently to all things beside.”

– Can I go on? The third note in the Bible Romances series was “it pleased him to –” and it came in handy even sooner than the first, “chaos” note, namely in the second draft of the Earwicker sketch that Joyce was currently hacking away at, thusly: “when royalty was announced ^by runner to have been pleased to halt^ on the highroad” (First-Draft Version, 62). Foote, ironical as always, uses the phrase in connection with the Westminster Confession of Faith, “where it is declared that it pleased the Trinity ‘in the beginning to create, or make out of nothing, the world and all things therein.’” Another note that was used instantly is the famous “grand old gardener” of FW 30.13. (Nativities VI.B.2.14e) The relevant passage in the Bible Romances (33) gives a good impression of Foote’s suave sarcasm:


Although God is everywhere, Adam and Eve “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord amongst the trees of the garden.” But they were soon dragged forth to the light, and Adam, who seems to have been a silly fellow, explained that he had hidden himself because he was naked, as though the Lord had not seen him in that state before. “Naked!” cried Jehovah, fixing his terrible eye on the fig leaves, “who told you that? Have you been tasting my pippins?” “Oh Lord! yes,” said Adam, “but it wasn’t my fault, she made me do it.”

What a hero was this “grand old gardener”—as Tennyson called him!


Joyce was not only listening to what was being said, but also to the tone that made the music. And he was more and more appropriating currente calamo, on the fly, on the double, on the spot what he read, to fit to his own personal ends. “HCE hides in cave”, “HCE names / — chloroformed”, “HCE drunk” are notes taken from Foote that ultimately were left on the cutting room floor, but attest to Joyce’s sense of purpose. The notes look innocuous enough, but the Bible Romance stories behind them are grim and gruesome. The first note originates in Foote’s ironic comment on the state of primordial man as the ‘lord of creation’, his highness perpetually having to hide in caves. The note as conceived would actually read: “King HCE hides in cave.” The second note equates Earwicker with Adam, giving names to all the animals after which “the Lord put him into a deep sleep, carved out one of his ribs, and made it into a woman. It was the first surgical operation under chloroform.” HCE was chloroformed to make Anna Liffey? The third HCE-note is about the daughters of Lot, who were in hiding in a cave, alone with their father and feeling most deprived: “Two nights successively they made their father blind drunk, and while in that state he was incited to commit incest with them.” The Bible of course is full of incest and beastliness, and perhaps here the seeds are sown for even more unspeakable crimes of HCE.


The Bible in this secular retelling also helped Joyce coming to grips with a potential female protagonist: “Heva (Living) / A-dam (Pa & Ma)” (013g) originates in a passage in the Bible Romances in which a Mr. Wake (nomen est omen) suggests that Adam derives from ad, father and dam, mother, and that the first man was a “male-female.” “‘When the dual idea expressed in the name was forgotten,’ he adds, ‘Adam became the Great Father, the Great Mother recieving the name of Eve (Hhavváh), i.e., living, or life, although Adam in the generic sense of ‘Mankind’ denotes both male and female.’”

The chapter on Cain and Abel yielded surprisingly few notes, as if Joyce was not ready to have these prototypical brothers enter his family at this moment. Possibly he wanted to reread the chapter when Shem and Shaun had taken on a little more characterological weight, but that is pure guesswork on my part.


What did make it into the Wake is the curious legend of the mystery of the Virgin birth: “Mohammedan commentators, as though they were present at the interview, assert that ‘Gabriel blew into the bosom of her shift, which he opened with his fingers, and his breath, reaching her womb, caused the conception.’ Some of them affirm that she was delivered an hour afterwards. The subject is a delicate one, and we will not pursue it.” (178) Joyce notes: “Gabriel parted BVM’s shift / & breathed (Koran),” (019l) and deleted the note with a green crayon when he found room for it, some three years later, in the fourth watch of Shaun, when HCE and ALP are being watched quadroscopally in their bed of beds: “[Would one] but to make open a little her breastplates and to breathe so therebetween” (JJA 60:259, 1100h, March-April 1926), which became heavily sexualized in a subsequent redraft: “Would one but to do open ^apart^ a lilybit her breastplates ^virginelles^ and, so, to breath, so, therebetween, behold” (JJA 60:285, FW 561.24-26).


An interesting note occurs on notebook page 14: “Tree = Ark = Temple = Cross.” Is it a conceptual note, indicative of the dreamlike shape of things to come? Foote recounts a medieval legend that traces the wood of the Cross back, through Solomon’s temple, to the Tree of Knowledge itself. Joyce expands on Foote’s legend and makes Noah’s Ark descend from the Forbidden Fruittree as well, but there is as yet no dream-logic involved in which a gun can be a stick can be a kitchen range at the same time.

Another appropriation of Joyce, or rather immediate Irishizing, is his identification “Lough Neagh = Dead Sea” (017i). Foote writes: “The natives say that at low water they glimpse fragments of buildings and pillars rising out of the bottom of the lake. But this is only a fancy. Yet beneath the waters of the Dead Sea are thought to lie the Cities of the Plain.” Joyce’s appropriation was unintentionally reappropriated and even more irishized by Mme Raphael, who transcribed: “Lough Murph: Dead Sea” (C.2.019k) and as such the inspired misreading was adopted by Joyce and inserted in a reprimand to the terrible twins in the Night Lessons: “sense you threehandshighs put your twofootlarge timepates in that dead wash of Lough Murph ...” (FW 272.22-24)


My favourite discovery at the moment is at VI.B.2.018(e) “the Whale & Prophet”, a pub-name that is occasioned by Foote’s remarking that Jonah may very well have been “a sailor, who put up at a public-house called “The Whale,” and was turned out when he had spent his money.” This chimes in with another favourite find in Foote, the source for Joyce’s tantalizing conceptual note “T tries to kill Moses at an inn” at VI.B.2.016(l). In the Bible Romances, the Lord God plays the role of Tristan, in the story about Balaam and his ass: Balaal “was unfortunately ignorant of what happened to Moses on a similar occasion. After the Lord had dispatched the Jewish prophet to Egypt to rescue his people from bondage, he met him at an inn, where they seem to have both put up for the night, and sought to kill him.” Taken together, these notes - to me - give the impression of a fine résumé of Finnegans Wake, at this moment in time: a pub story with mythical implications.


* * *


III. J.T. Lloyd, God-Eating, A Study in Christianity and Cannibalism


Joyce’s small freethought library included some pamphlets as well, which he read next. One or more of them remain unidentified, but one I managed to locate. God-Eating, A Study in Christianity and Cannibalism (1921) is a delicate 32 page pamphlet, railing first at the Pauline invention of the mystery of transubstantiation - which irrationalized Christianity from the start - and then explaining the pagan origins of this particular cannibalistic ritual.

J. (John) T. Lloyd (1851-1928), was a Presbyterian minister who worked and preached in Johannesburg, South Africa, between 1884 and 1902. In 1903, at age 54, having seen the light of Secularism, he resigned and joined G.W. Foote’s freethinking movement. Another pamphlet of his is Prayer: Its Origin, History and Futility (1916), but sad to say this second pamphlet is not the source of the cluster on Nativities VI.B.2.021(f)-024(i), although the subjects are related: they feature comments on protestants, praying, the Ulster church, saints, Jesus’ afterlife and smell, martyrs beneath the altar and the concept of Christlikeness.


Joyce took nineteen notes from God-Eating, and used three. Because they do shed some murky sidelight on the relevant passages of Finnegans Wake, I will deal with them here.


1) If anyone was wondering where “F.X. Preserved Coppinger” on FW 55.18 got his unusual middle name, here’s the anwer. It derives from the American Biblical scholar Henry Preserved Smith (born in Troy, Ohio, in 1847) who is quoted by Lloyd in his pamphlet: “and Professor Preserved Smith, in an excellent article in the Monist for May 1918, renders the verse [I. Corinthians x.16] thus: ‘The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a sharing of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a sharing of the body of Christ?’” In 1892 Preserved Smith was tried and convicted for heresy, because he was teaching that the Biblical Book of Chronicles contained errors of historical fact and hence that the inspiration of the Bible did not necessarily imply inerrancy. He went on to write about The Bible and Islam and about the Book of Samuel. All this may not have been known to Joyce when he jotted down the name of the venerable scholar, but he must have had a premonition that there was more to it. Ahnen ist das Vorrecht des Dichters.


2) Lloyd paraphrases Paul’s vehement warning to his followers not to attend the Pagan rituals: “It cannot be done; there is no more heinous sin on the calendar; the contrast being that at one Table you offer sacrifice to God in Christ, and at the other, to the Devil and all his angels.” Joyce notes: “worst sin / on calendar” (028h) and invests his hero with the opprobrium on the second fair copy of the HCE sketch: “capable of any and every enormity ^in the calendar^” (JJA 45:6).


3) When the three soldiers in the park saw what HCE did, whatever it was, and started their vilification, they were - surprise surprise - not entirely sober: they durst not deny that they had “that day consumed their soul of the corn” (FW 34.16-18). A beautiful expression, but where does it come from? From Lloyd, and it is Joyce appropriating an aboriginal ritual from a small island between New Guinea and Sulawesi (Celebes). Lloyd writes, in a series of anthropological examples of cannibalistic rites: “In Buru, an island of the East Indian Archipelago, there is an ancient and Pagan tribe of Indians who partake of a sacramental repast which they describe as “eating the soul of the rice.”


The cannibalism and theophagy of these passages inspired Joyce to assimilate the rituals even more to his own fancy, and he pictures Irish festivities with “roast loin of O’Hara” and “corned Crowley & cabbage” (029d-e). The subject fires his imagination and he notes the titles of two standard works in the field, J.M. Robertson’s Pagan Christs, and Grant Allen’s The Evolution of the Idea of God (029g-i), but if he obtained and read these books, I don’t know.

When Lloyd takes an example from Egyptian mythology and mentions Isis drinking the blood of Osiris, Joyce thinks of incorporating this ultimate love potion for expanding on Tristan & Isolde: “Isis & Osiris / (T&I) She drinks / his blood” (029i-j). The passage in God-Eating is even more apposite in a Tristan and Isolde-context, but Joyce captures the essence: “In point of fact, the world teemed with Saviour-Gods long before Jesus Christ was ever heard of, all of whom died a violent death for the world’s redemption, rose again, and became the food and drink of their followers. Isis drank the blood of Osiris, and deepest love for him welled up in her heart in consequence; but it was in a goblet of wine that she quaffed it. In every such case, wine was not a surrogate or substitute for, but by a miracle actually became blood.” (32)


The God-Eating notes are followed by an equally religious or irreligious cluster, unidentified yet. Joyce finds occasion to develop his ideas about Earwicker and consort, in the tantalizing notes “Stations of Earwicker / Earwicker (Adam) wake & / finds Eve” (031(g-h).


* * *


IV. Margaret Maitland, Life and Legends of St. Martin of Tours (316-397)


At one point Joyce confessed to Padraic Colum that the only saint he could stand was Patrick: “He was modest, and he was sincere.” But that didn’t mean that he took no interest in the holy vagaries of Patrick’s cronies in Christ. Ever since Joyce decided to build his History of the World on the trellis of among others Kevin and Patrick, saintly lives interested him – for great sinners may become great saints and Earwicker was certainly one of either. The Finnegans Wake notebooks teem with saints. Joe Schork, in his exemplary study Saints Above! counts a congregation of some 250 gathered in the notebooks, ranging from SS Agatha and Scholastica (VI.B.17.93) to Holy Genesius (VI.B.42.71) and from S. Gengulphus aka Jingo (VI.B.4.15-16) to the postal martyrs S. Delay and S. Miscarriage (SAG) (VI.B.8.120). The whole hagiographic spectre of saints above, saints below and saints nonexistent is represented in the notebooks. These two short sweet weeks in his textual diary see already a plethora of piety crowding in. Patrick and Kevin are always on his mind in this notebook: several references to Kevin crop up between the identified sources, indicative of Joyce’s will to fuse and expand his early sketch. Furthermore we have a whole gamut of saints marching in, during these two weeks of reading: Ambrose, S Amator, the Adaucti (saints with no name), S Odran, S. Wilfrid, S Brigid, the Acts of the Irish Saints, the Virgin Mary, S Mary Axe (probably the church of that name), Jerome, Godfrey & Marcus (three ‘goodbodies’), the ignoti (commemorated on All Saints Day), S James the Less, les Saints Lieux (holy places), S Denis, S. Columbanus and S John.


And now Saint-Martin joins the cloud. The source book, published in London by the Catholic Truth Society in 1908 and 107 pages long, was discovered by Wim Van Mierlo and indexed in A Finnegans Wake Circular, Vol.7, 1991-92, page 29-44. There is little to add to the index. Joyce took, in a dutiful and fairly unimaginative way, from start to finish, 63 notes from the equally unimaginative biographette. The six notes that made it directly into the Wake are for the most part Maitlandian mannerisms, idiosyncrasies such as “a pious author”, “Yet know —”, “So far as in the bishop it lay” and the like. Only once the text sparks off Joyce in his immediate concerns, when he reads that Saint-Martin practised self-humiliation by waiting on a servant. Joyce notes: “Earwicker waits on servant”, but in the finished Wake, manservant Sigerson waits in vain to be waited on by his boss. Joyce also notes the word “secretarium”, a small inner sacristy, in which the faithful were not admitted. It remained unused, but would be a nice word for the outhouse on the premises of Earwicker’s Mullingar inn. We’ll have to wait for an Ideal Completed Finnegans Wake, in which all unused notes from the noteboks are finally put to use.


Seven Saint-Martin notes crept into the final text from the transcription by Mme Raphael. One is particularly interesting, because it shows that for Joyce the context of the original note is still alive and kicking after many years of laying fallow in the ground of the notebook pages. Maitland tells of the legend of the seven brothers, cousins of Saint-Martin, who became Christians and remained locked up in a walled-up cell. Nothing is heard of them anymore till after St. Martin is dead. “One year, when the Festival of the Saint’s ‘Passage’ for passing into eternity, fell on a Saturday, he appeared to the seven at the hour of the Sunday matins.” (72) Joyce notes: “passage = death” (035h). Mme Raphael faithfully copies the entry (VI.C2.035e) and somewhere in the mid-1930s Joyce decides to give the note a place right at the beginning of the Night Lessons chapter, when the guide sets off: “Easy, calm your haste! Approach and lead our passage!” (FW 262.01-2, JJA 52:55) The phrase also functions as a reminder of the Hen that we should follow: “Lead, kindly fowl!”(112.09), but that the implied passage is death as well, is clearly - knowing the source - the hidden subtext as well, all the more so because “Ainsoph” (261.23) is our guide, the unmanifest Deity of the Qabalah. This goes to show that context for Joyce more often than not remained viable. This in its turn means that identifying sources will always be of use to deepen our understanding.


* * *


V. William J. Fitz-Patrick, The Life of the Very Rev. Thomas N. Burke (2 vols.)


Rare moments of elation in the Victoria Palace Hotel: Lucia is reading her father from the two-tomed biography of Father Tom, that is the Very Reverend Thomas Nicholas Burke, O.P., the well-beloved orator and clerical fighter for the Irish cause thundering from the pulpit. Reading? You can’t call it reading what Lucia is doing, she is hopskipandjumping through the none too parsimonious volumes like a mermaid flapping on dry land, crosscrissing back and forth along the pages, entirely at her own will-o’-the-wispy whims.

And her father trying to keep up and snatch notes. The subtle barbaric saucebox. No respect for literature at all at all.

Father Tom Burke (1830-1883)... What has he done to deserve such a fate? A biography of 359 and 414 pages, no less. Was it because he figures in Dubliners, in the story ‘Grace’? Ulnlikelihood, the biography is from 1885.

– Father Tom Burke, that was the boy! Upon my word, it was magnificent, the style of the oratory. And his voice! God, hadn’t he a voice!

If they were going to give every godforsaken character in his stories a biography, yes, then they would be doing something worthwhile, Joyce mused as Lucia danced through the pages, reading fragments and leafing forwards or backwards or otherbookwards when she got bored, and she got bored easily.


Her derwishy itinerary can be retraced by following the notes her father took. The notes, 24 in all, start in the middle of nowhere in vol i, page 144. Lucia then goes fairly straightforward for about thirty pages and then skips some ten pages of text, thereby depriving her father of such Wake-worthy lexical specimens as St. Nennius of the Clean Hand (“who, when he heard as a child that he was going to be a priest, wrapped up his right hand so as never to touch anything until the day of his anointing”, 179) and the upas tree at Tallaght, a spot “sanctified by centuries of prayer and martyrs’ blood” (181). From page 184 she moves back a step to page 183, preparing for a long jump, her first but not her last, straight to page 307, falling back to 306 and moving on to 321, after which she saltoes directly deep into book ii, landing on page 250. She contiunes up to page 256, retraces her steps to 247, and then stops and start again 45 pages further on, on page 292. There she stays just for a wink before jumping backwards to vol. i again, page 349. This is only a stopover, because in one big jump in the same backwards direction the delicate little periwinkle lands on page vi of the introduction, in the middle of a Burkian pun, unintelligible now (Good people may be “Sankeymonious without being Moody”, VI.B.2.039d), but immediately merrygorounds to the other end of vol i, page 339. The dance is getting very duncanesque now, for she has hardly landed before she twirls back to page 108, and forward again to vol. ii, page 245, to end with a final bow and curtain in the same volume, a hundred pages earlier, 153.

At which point father and daughter, both completely dizzified, decide to call it a day.

Lucia’s piscatory dance through Burke


It is uncertain how Joyce got hold of these books, but what is certain is that Geert Lernout discovered the source and tipped off the present author. Of the twenty-four notes, four went into Finnegans Wake through this notebook and one through the transcription of Mme Raphael. The “Blarney braggs” of FW 211.11 derive from Father Tom quipping, “with his wonted humour” that a certain mission was so hard work, “that it had the effect of wearing threadbare two pairs of the finest Blarney cloth garments which he had just bought” (i, 307). Joyce notes: “wore out two pairs of Blarney trousers” (038h), and turns the trousers into a gift of Anna Liffey for one of her 111 childereen, some months later.

One of the wrong answers to Shem’s Riddle of the Universe, ‘when is a man not a man?’ is given as: “when the angel of death kicks the bucket of life” (170.12-13). This is a definite improvement, gaining in ambiguity, on the original anecdote of Father Tom, who is reported to have said, ill and in pain: “I felt as though I stood upon a bucket, and that the Angel of Death was about to kick it aside” (ii, 246).


The other notes that Joyce managed to use are:

1) “preach with eyes shut” (037j), deriving from vol i, 160 (“He used to preach with his eyes shut, and showed a certain timidity”), which ended up in the Wake as HCE being able to “talk earish with his eyes shut” (130.18-19);

2) “writes one” (038m), deriving from a parenthesis in Burke, vol ii, 256: “(writes Mr. Sherlock at this time)” added on the second fair copy of the HCE sketch (JJA 45:7, 1400h) – which later, curiously, also is treated by a sensory mixup, to become “cries one even greater” (34.05); and

3) the exclamation “thunder and turf”, finally, added through the transcrption of Mme Raphael, (“But, thunder and turf, it’s not alover yet!” FW 294.27-28), originates in a modest estimation of Father Tom about his own achievemnets: “He used to speak contemptuously of his own great pulpit efforts and say they were all ‘thunder and turf.’” (ii, 312)


* * *


VI. Otto Jespersen, Language, its Nature, Development and Origin


After the Burke biography, Joyce’s textual diary has fifteen consecutive pages of notes with unidentified sources, from Nativities page 40 to 55. We don’t know what he read in these days, we only know what he noted. Partly the notes are in French (‘ce quidam’, ‘on débuche le loup’), partly they derive from yet another work of an anticlerical nature, such as ‘why even one parent JC’, ‘last supper / supper at Emaus’, ‘stoned for picking up stones on Sabbath’ etc. There are notes on fishing, ‘salmo fario,’ ‘Jock Scots,’ ‘silver doctors’, notes of a medical nature, ‘shortfingeredness,’ ‘cough to test testicles,’ and there are notes to which no category can be assigned without knowing the source (if any). And as luck would have it, precisely the source is unknown! Probably a good part is taken up by notes form newspapers and magazines.


Then a new book arrives, as fresh from the printing press then as it still makes fresh reading today. The classic work on linguistic evolution, Otto Jespersen’s Language, its Nature, Development and Origin, today considered to be his most brilliant achievement. Joyce would read and plunder other works by the great Dane as well – Finnegans Wake being a kind of culmination of linguistic evolution in toto and abstracto – but this first acquaintance was, it seems, a bit too early in the day to be of decisive influence on the course that the Book of the Night was going to take. Joyce nibbled piecemeal of Jespersen’s wealth of linguistic examples, and read, in this second week recorded in his notebook, 47 of the 448 pages. That he was gripped nonetheless, is borne out by the fact that the notes taken in these couple of days come in three clusters. Apparently he couldn’t leave the book alone.


The source for the first cluster, Nativities 56-67, was discovered and indexed by Roland McHugh in 1987. The second Jespersen cluster, Nativities 69 and 72-73, seems to have been identified by Erika Rosiers (see the bibliography), but I never saw the index. Perhaps the Jespersen notes on Nativities 95-96 have already been identified as well.

Joyce started reading Jespersen’s chapters on children’s language acquisition, Book II, The Child, Ch. 9 and 10, The Influence of the Child on Linguistic Development, after which he turned to Ch. 8, Some Fundamental Problems, and Ch. 5, Sounds, 54 pages in all. From these comparatively few pages he made comparatively many notes, 85 in all, but again he used comparatively few, only four through the B-notebooks, and seventeen in a later stage, through the C-transcription of Mme Raphael.


Most of the notes concern linguistic oddities, children’s idiosyncrasies and observations about changes in languages. Sometimes we see Joyce proactively thinking along with Jespersen and creating his own nonce words and terms, along the lines Jespersen says that children do. And what is worse, some of them went into Finnegans Wake, thereby creating an almost insurmountable problem for the interpreter – if he doesn’t know the source for Joyce’s fantastic formations.


Bupabipibambuli, I can do as I like with what’s me own. Nyamnyam” is Issy’s comment on the subject of “the Benefits of Recreation” (FW 306.22). “Nyamnyam” is understandable even without the source, though a reader may always find his own, equally valid interpretations (that is part of the game of Finnegans Wake: it is not a cryptogram). But for, let’s say, translators, or readers that want to come to grips with the Book as a Hole, knowledge of the source is always helpful. And to our relief Jespersen writes (158): “Inseparable from these words is the sound, a long m or am, which expresses the child's delight over something that tastes good; it has by-forms in the Scotch nyam or nyamnyam, the English seaman’s term yam ‘to eat,’ and with two dentals the French nanan ‘sweetmeats.’” Joyce noted: “nyamnyam / goood” (066c), and though Mme Raphael superfluously added an extra redundant ‘o’ in “goood”, the note arrived relatively unscathed in the text. But what to make of “Bupabipibambuli”? Recourse to all the dictionaries of the world of course will yield something, but not Joyce’s original intention, because the mystery term is a private multilingual assemblage of words connected with the child’s first utterances for food and drink – a Wakean ‘baby’s first words’ as it were. Jespersen writes (158):


As the child’s first nourishment is its mother’s breast, its joyous mamama can also be taken to mean the breast. So we have the Latin mamma (with a diminutive ending mammilla, whence Fr. mamelle), and with the other labial sound Engl. pap, Norwegian and Swed. dial. pappe, Lat. papilla ; with a different vowel, It. poppa, Fr. poupe, ‘teat of an animal, formerly also of a woman’; with b, G. bübbi, obsolete E. bubby; with a dental, E. teat (G. zitze), Ital. tetta, Dan. titte, Swed. dial, tatte. Further we have words like E. pap ‘soft food,’ Latin papare ‘to eat,’ orig. ‘to suck,’ and some G. forms for the same, pappen, pampen, pampfen. Perhaps the beginning of the word milk goes back to the baby’s ma applied to the mother’s breast or milk ; the latter half may then be connected with Lat. lac. In Greenlandic we have ama˙ma ‘suckle.’ [emphases added - RJH]


Reading this paragraph, Joyce devises the compounds (066b): “bupabambuli / bupabepi­bambuli” – and incidentally not “bubabipibambuli”, as it ended up in the Wake (306.F5), containing two typos (or transmissional departures if you will) – a circumstance which makes an effort at meaningful, authorially intentioned interpretation even more divilishly divilcult than usual.[2]


Likewise ditto, an earlier exclamation of Issy’s: “Not kilty. But the manajar was. He! He! Ho! Ho! Ho!” (305.F2) We can take the he-he’s and ho-ho’s for what they seem to be, disparaging and/or gleeful utterances of our nasty little heroine. But as always, there’s more behind the door. In a paragraph full of names for family members in different languages, Jespersen adds a few in a footnote: “I subjoin a few additional examples. Basque aita ‘father,’ ama ‘mother,’ anaya ‘brother’ (Zeitsch. f. rom. Phil. 17, 146). Manchu ama ‘father,’ eme ‘mother’ (the vowel relation as in haha ‘man,’ hehe ‘woman,’ [156] Gabelentz, S 389). ...” Joyce again adapts, assimilates and appropriates, noting: “heehee (girl) / hoho (boy)” – the “hoho” being entirely of his own invention. Should this notebook entry be included in the Annotations to Finnegans Wake? The connection may not be indispensable for our understanding, but it is still there – and a smile-generating trouvaille.


Incidentally, Jespersen turns out to be the cause of both Issy and HCE being accorded some kind of speech impediment. Writing about the formation of speech sounds (166), Jespersen explains how, under the influence of fatigue or laziness or for other reasons, “the movements of the jaw or of the tongue may fall short of what they usually are”, Joyce crisply notes: “Is lisps” (056h). Later Joyce reads about the speech differences between the sexes (146), that it “has been proved by statistics in many countries that there are far more stammerers and bad speakers among boys and men than among girls and women.” Joyce, in his excitement reverting to an earlier incarnation of HCE, notes: “Pop stammers” (062d)

After the chapter on Sounds, Joyce turns to the chapter Degeneration? – to which the emphatic answer of Jespersen is No! – and he takes down a few notes around a score of already inscribed notebook pages (074-094). Jespersen considers, and Joyce duly notes (on 073l and 096d) the multipurpose English verb ‘had’ an undisputed improvement over the Gothic ‘habaidedeima’ and its sixteen moods and tenses of four syllables and more. When Jespersen writes, that “a language possesses an inestimable charm if its phonetic system remains unimpaired and its etymologies are transparent”, Joyce merely notes “knew his etymologies” (073m), which was added in April-May 1927 in a passage about Anna Livia, as “though nowadays as thentimes every schoolfilly of sevenscore moons or more ^+who know her intimologies+^” (JJA 46:288, FW 101.16-17) – which is surely something very different.


* * *


VII. Alfred Perceval Graves, Irish Literary and Musical Studies


Outside in the twinight, a dog barked, just underneath their window. Joyce started.

– Is it feerrce? Is it coming up?

Two shots rang out in the stillness of the street. The dog barked no more. The porter of the hotel had been asked by Joyce to shoot all dogs, stray or on the leash, that ventured near the hotel, on sight and without warning.

– Don’t wait until you see the white of their teeth.

– Mais non, monsieur! Votre souhait est notre demande.

They were cowardly animals. They could smell if you were afraid.

– You were going to read to me, Nora?

Nora came back from behind the sofa, having taken from the fourth stack from the left on the second row, a green hardbound volume from top of a stackpile of new Books at Finn’s Hotel.

– Where shall I begin? The book has chapters, you know. And verse.

– What does it matter?

– Tennyson in Ireland? The English spoken in Ireland? James Clarence Mangan?

– Are you going to read me the entire contents page?

– O, this one’s specially for you: Dr. Joyce’s Irish Wonder Book.

– My learnèd namesake and distant relative. Già! My Irish wonders are much more wond’rous.

– Who’s Edward Bunting?

– Edward Bunting (1773–1843) was a collector of Irish harp tunes, born in Armagh. He was the first to transcribe music ‘in the field’ as played by the musicians, and he published three collections of The Ancient Music of Ireland. He was George Petrie’s mentor. He lies buried at Mount Jerome.

– Ah, Mr. Know-It-All! If I could forget a fraction of what you know, I’d be the wisest woman in the world!

–You are, Nora dear, you are. It’s just my Jesuit schooling, and this:

Joyce proffers a calling card to his wife, from the venerable British firm of (When in doubt – “look it up”) the Encyclopedia Britannica.


Joyce’s personalized calling card of the Encyclopaedia Britannica


– Interested in buying a set? Conditions are cheap, instalments easygoing. We have vacuumcleaners too.

Nora was unimpressed.

– Aw, don’t be talking. I’ll just start somewhere then.


And so do we, just start somewhere. The notes from Alfred Perceval Graves’ collection of articles, reviews and lectures, published in London by Elkin Matthews in 1913, are scattered in a random fashion on the pages of the Mag-nis sténobloc. There is a considerable cluster at the end, pages 155-157, but as these have been entered upside-down, they might as well be at the beginning, if we imagine the rest of the notebook as having been entered upside-down.

There is a cluster of notes on the first page, but as this is the cover-verso page, they could have been entered when there was no more space left on the rest of the pages of the notebook.

There are two notes on page 27, and there is one lonely, unfellowed and friendless note on page 77.

– Yes, just start at the beginnend.

All right then.


VI.B.2. cover verso (a) pub languished

Irish Literary and Musical Studies, (‘Edward Bunting’), 195-6: The band of enthusiastic folk song collectors was then divided, and the publication of Bunting’s second volume languished. When it ultimately appeared in 1809, Moore [195] and Stevenson at once proceeded to pillage airs from it, and the poet had a very easy task in excelling the poor translations from Irish originals that served for its lyrics.


VI.B.2.cover verso(c) I - boxes teacher’s ears

Irish Literary and Musical Studies, (‘Edward Bunting’), 192: Edward Bunting, but for whose collections of old Irish music Moore’s melodies would never have seen the light, was the son of an English mining engineer, settled in the north of Ireland in the last quarter of the 18th century. His mother was a descendant of one Patrick Gruana O’Quinn, who had fallen in the Great Irish Rising of 1642. Left unprovided for by his father, he received so good a musical education from his brother Anthony that we find him at the age of eleven acting as deputy to a Belfast organist, Mr. William Ware, and, indeed, so outshining him as a performer that his employer was glad to secure him as a permanent assistant, not only at the organ, but as a teacher of the pianoforte to his pupils throughout the neighbouring county. The zeal of the boy-teacher, reinforced by a caustic tongue, from which he suffered through life, were often productive of ludicrous scenes. As an instance, he afterwards reported to Dr. Petrie, that on one occasion a lady pupil was so astonished “at the audacity of his reproofs that she indignantly turned round upon him and well boxed his ears.”


VI.B.2.cover verso(d) long crooked nails >

VI.B.2.cover verso(e) not left like behind

Irish Literary and Musical Studies, (‘Edward Bunting’), 193: All the best of the old Irish harpers (a race of menthen nearly extinct and now gone for ever), Denis Hempson, Arthur O’Neill, Charles Fanning and seven others, the least able of whom has not left his like behind, were present. Hempson, who realised the antique picture drawn by Cambrensis and Galilei, for he played with long crooked nails, and in his performance “the tinkling of the small wires under the deep tones of the bass” was peculiarly thrilling, took the attention of the editor with a degree of interest which he can never forget.”


VI.B.2.cover verso(f) moving spirit

Irish Literary and Musical Studies, (‘Edward Bunting’), 192: He [Edward Bunting] lodged with and became fast friends of the McCrackens, whose love for Irish folk music as well as the influence of Dr. James MacDonnell, the moving spirit in the Belfast Harper’s Festival of 1792, drew him into that collection, study and arrangement of old Irish music which for the next fifty years absorbed all the time he had to spare from his duties as a professional musician.


VI.B.2.cover verso(h) earlygapped instruments >

VI.B.2.cover verso(i) pentatonic >

VI.B.2.cover verso (j) plainchant to Irish

Irish Literary and Musical Studies, (‘Edward Bunting’), 198-9: Lastly, do not the Irish Harp tunes stand, as a rule, quite apart from the airs of the Irish Folk songs, as the Welsh Harp tunes are proved to stand apart from the airs of the Welsh Folk songs? Is it not therefore reasonable to suppose that airs in pentatonic or other incomplete scales which still exist in Ireland and Wales side by side with diatonic tunes dating from the twelfth century, at any rate, take their origin in the main either from the use of early-gapped instruments, or from the secular use amongst the [198] Irish and Welsh Catholic peasantry of their Church’s earliest forms of plainsong? Can any direct connection be set up, as suggested by Petrie, between Persian and Indian lullabies and those of Ireland, and can such early Irish airs as the Plough tunes be proved to have a like connection with the East?


Two more notes on Nativities page 27(h-i) also derive (in all likelihood) from the same essay, though they have been mangled by Joyce: “tremblingly anxious” from Graves’ “tremblingly apprehensive” (197) and “hight excellence” from Graves’ “of such finished excellence” (193). The lonesome note on 77(h), “Bona Dea” could derive, as long as no other source is found, from the name of a poem mentioned by Graves in his article on William Allingham (97).


Alfred Perceval Graves (1846-1931) was the son of Charles Graves, Anglican Bishop of Limerick, and the father of Robert Graves, the poet-novelist-historian-mythologist, both accom­plishments that he couldn’t very much do about. What he could help, were his own writings. Graves wrote lyrics to Irish airs, mostly of a genteel and humorous nature (says here at His claim to fame and at the same time infamy are the lyrics of the song Father O’Flynn, a very popular but (or and) very stagey stage-Irish music-hall song, with the couleur locale applied with a bucket and a shovel:


            Och Father O’Flynn, you’ve a wonderful way wid you,

            All ould sinners are wishful to pray wid you,

            All the young childer are wild for to play wid you,

            You’ve such a way wid you, Father avick.


The song crops up twice in Ulysses. Bloom is reminded of a snippet in Lestrygonians but can’t remember all the right words, humming “don’t talk of your provosts and provosts of Trinity” and “Father O’Flynn would make hares of them all” (8.707, 713). In Cyclops the good Father closes the gigantic procession of clericals that come to bless the drinks at Barney Kiernan’s (12.1727).

– I hate the music, I hate the words, but most of all I hate Father O’Flynn as I smell him from the lyrics. And even more than most I hate the person who wrote the lyrics.

– Why am I bothering reading it to you then?

– I don’t know. Go on.

The longer cluster at Nativities 155-157 comprises twenty-five notes from three essays, of which five were used soon after, and four more in the late 1930s. Three notes were used in December for Joyce’s final sketch, the last one before he started moving towards one great goal. The Revered Letter introduces Anna Livia, succour and helpmaid of vilified HCE, writing an inflammatory letter à décharge to His Majesty – a trait she must have picked up from the author of her days: always immediately apply to the highest authorities. She writes: “I’ve heard it stated about the military but, did space permit, it is my belief I could show it was ^the wish of his mind^ to cure the King’s evil” (FDV 82) in which, “the wish of his mind”, “I’ve heard it stated” and “did space permit” are taken from Graves. When Joyce reintegrated the Revered Letter in the late 1930s, turning it inside out and generally butchering it, only the third item escaped annihilation, albeit not mutilation, and entered the Wake at 616.27 as “Did speece permit”.

The notes that entered through the C-notebook came to be used in Issy’s footnotes in the Night Lessons chapter. And again, just as in the case of the Jespersen items, the source is highly enlightening and even pertinent in at least one case.

For instance, at FW 262.F4 we hear Issy rattling off in Latin: “Apis amat aram. Luna legit librum. Pulla petit pascua.” That is: the bee loves the altar, the moon reads a book, the hen loves the pasture, with a free choice of definite or indefinite articles. Right. Clear all so. The middle term turns out to originate in a passage in Graves’ review of Patrick Weston Joyce’s The Wonders of Ireland (1911), in which he compares the staid wonders of Wales (“how wanting in distinction”) with the wild wonders of Ireland: “What are these [Welsh wonders] and pellet-making partridges and a self-acting sickle and a book-reading moon and even a cart-loading pig to an island of red-hot animals from whom Maeldune and his men snatched, not roasted chestnuts, but the juiciest of apples, or what are they to ‘An island which dyed white and black,’ and from which the voyagers fled lest they should share the fate of the white sheep which turned black when flung across a hedge and become all niggeryfied on the spot.” (167-8)

Joyce (our Joyce) immediately translates and extends: “Luna legit librum / Perdix fecit ^facit^ bullas / redhot animals juicy apples / niggeryfied sheep” (157k) The partridge making pellets was left to founder (Mme Raphael’s transcription of Perdix as Peruit not being very helpful), but the moon reading a book was salvaged, and can now be glossed as a vintage Welsh wonder. Issy’s other two Latin babbledegobbles await a similar discovery.


A second source location may not be of much use in interpreting Issy’s note, but it is interesting in a different respect. In his review of another book of the Peewee Joyce variety, English as We Speak it in Ireland (1910), Graves writes: “Verbal peculiarities from the Irish are the use of the narrative infinitive, a construction common to the old Irish annals, and still fast-rooted in Irish folk speech,—e.g., ‘How did the mare get that hurt?’ ‘Oh! Tom Cody to leap her over the garden wall, and she to fall on her knees on the stones.’” Mme Raphael misread Joyce’s note and came up with “7 coming to leap her and she to feel” (VI.C.2.106k) – and it ended up in the Wake along the same misread lines as “Leap me, Locklaun, for you have sensed!” (267.F6) with hardly a hairthin a connection to the Irish peculiarity that Dr. Joyce mentions. But where Graves writes “Tom Cody to leap her ... and she to fall ...”, Joyce writes the homophonous “T Coady to leap her & she to fall” (156i), which he wouldn’t do if he had the book in front of his eyes.




Graves, Irish Literary Studies, page 15 and Nativities VI.B.2.156(i), fragments


Hence, he didn’t read it, hence, someone read it to him. Do we need any more proof, your honour, to show that he never did any reading himself here?

– No, Jim, I don’t think we need any more proof. Now rest your case and go to bed.

– Ay-ay, Captain Nora.


For us too, it’s time to call it a hard day’s two weeks of read and write. In these two weeks, we have seen Joyce perusing a fair amount of small-, medium- and large-sized volumes. We have seen him reading, being read to and making notes with a constant eye on the book that was taking shape in his mind. We have seen him almost constantly thinking along with what he read and heard, always attentive and on the look-out for usable material. We have seen him making shorthand notes that carry with them a meaningful context and bring it over into Work in Progress, even if this context is obscure and hidden in arcane source books. We have seen him linking his notes as often as possible with his protagonists, Saint Kevin, Earwicker, Tristan & Isolde. We have seen him many times appropriating, adapting and expanding what he read, as he was reading, and the notes he made in this way, having been milled over already once, were almost among the first to be used in his writing. Everything Joyce read was connected to everything else but mainly to his work and to himself.


The nature of the notes has often been misunderestimated. They are no mere mechanical reproductions of words that caught his fancy. The choice of his sources, the choice of his notes are already a sieve, but his almost invariably active processing of his sources – assimilate, adapt, appropriate – strongly suggest that we should see his notetaking to represent as actually the first written stage of the composition of his book.


The extent to which Joyce appropriates his reading can perhaps best be illustrated by two small examples. Joyce was reading Jespersen’s Language, its Nature, Development and Origin and had progressed about fifteen pages, in the course of which he had made some thirty notes. By no means all of them came straight from Jespersen, a good part originated in Joyce digesting Jespersen’s examples and contriving his own linguistic equivalents. Joyce’s “to go to Begge” is one such instance: apparently originating in a passage about children’s word formation, sometimes due to “the child’s imperfect repetition of what has been transmitted to it” (163), Joyce notes a child-like distortion of “to go to bed”  – and even when Mme Raphael mistranscribes the note in the 1930s as “to go to Bigge” (VI.C.2.051d), Joyce remembers what he originally wrote, and inserts the phrase, correctly, in Issy’s linguistic footnotes in the Night Lessons chapter in the late 1930s, now with the extra connotation of a reminder of “Master Begge” (FW 58.17), the masterbuilder Finnegan: “Begge. To go the Begge. To go to Begge and to be sure to reminder Begge. Goodbeg, buggey Begge!” (FW 262.F7) This is only to show that we can never count on Joyce forgetting something – if he seems to forget an original context, it is because he chooses to disregard it.


Some pages later in Jespersen, Joyce is reading about children viewing words “quite singly as a whole and isolated”, without etymological connection (176): “A little girl of six asked when she was born. ‘You were born on the 2nd of October.’ ‘Why, then, I was born on my birthday!’ she cried, her eyes beaming with joy at this wonderfully happy coincidence” (176). Joyce notes, faithfully this time: “born on her birthday” – and although Mme Raphael inspiredly mistranscribes this as “bom on her bottom”, none of the two phrases is used in Finnegans Wake. On the same page, Jespersen writes about another phenomenon in children’s language acquisition, the ‘splitting’, or differentiation by which one word becomes two in the child’s mind: “Thus Paul Passy learnt the word meule in the sense of ‘grindstone’ from his father, and in the sense of ‘haycock’ from his mother; now the former in both senses pronounced [mœl], and the latter in both [møl], and the child thus came to distinguish [mœl] ‘grindstone ' and [mø˙l] ‘haycock’ (Ch 23).” Joyce, picking up on the name of Paul Passy, a man with the same surname as a district in the XVIth arrondissement of Paris area, wastes no time and notes a new name for himself, using the district of his birth in Dublin: “James Rathgar” (060b).


The new name was never used, but the invention exemplifies his dedication, his inveterate propensity to appropriate every word he reads. For Joyce, everything was connected to everything else but mainly to himself and to his work in progress. And of course only with such a mindset a true History of the World, omitting nothing and no-one, can be written. And equally of course, a lot of reading had to go into it. Of which a small fraction has been discussed in the above.


* * *


VI.B.2 Nativities, sources & acknowledgments


•     Alfred Perceval Graves, Irish literary and musical studies, London: Elkin Mathews, 1913, 258 pages [Robbert-Jan Henkes] VI.B.2.cover verso(a), (c-e), (f), (h-j); 027(h-i); 077(h); 155(p)-156(k); 157(a-l)

•     William Bullen Morris, The Life of Saint Patrick, apostle of Ireland : with a preliminary account of the sources of the saint’s history (sixth edition, 1908) [Robbert-Jan Henkes; Vincent Deane] VI.B.2.001(a)-003(f); 004(f)-005(g); 005(i)-009(j); 012(a-h)

•     G.W. Foote, Bible Romances, 4th edition, Issued by the Secular Society, Limited, London, The Pioneer Press, 1922, 222 pages [Robbert-Jan Henkes] VI.B.2.010(f)-011(q); 013(e); 013(g)-016(a); 016(c)-018(g); 018(i)-021(e)

•     J.T. Lloyd, God-Eating, A Study in Christianity and Cannibalism, London, The Pioneer Press, 1921, 32 pages [Robbert-Jan Henkes] VI.B.2.028(a)-029(j)

•     Margaret Maitland, Life and Legends of St. Martin of Tours (316-397), London, Catholic Truth Society, 1908, 107 pages [Wim Van Mierlo] VI.B.2.032(a)-037(f)

•     William J. Fitz-Patrick, The Life of the Very Rev. Thomas N. Burke, London, Kegan Paul, Trench & Co, 1885, 2 vols, 359 & 414 pages [Geert Lernout] VI.B.2.037(g)-039(h)

•     Otto Jespersen, Language, its Nature, Development and Origin, London, Allen and Unwin, 1922, 448 pages [Roland McHugh; Erika Rosiers & Wim Van Mierlo; Robbert-Jan Henkes] VI.B.2.056(e-h); 057(c)-067(a); 069(a)-073(d); 073(i-m); 095(d)-096(d); 097(a-i)


* * *


Selective bibliography


•     James Atherton, The Books at the Wake, A Study of Literary Allusions in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, 1959

•     Melissa Banta & Oscar A. Silverman, James Joyce’s Letters to Sylvia Beach, 1921-1940, 1990 (1987)

•     Sylvia Beach, Shakespeare and Company, 1980 (1956, 1959)

•     Frank Budgen, James Joyce and the Making of ‘Ulysses’ and other writings, 1972 (1960, 1934)

•     Ulick O’Connor (ed.), The Joyce We Knew, Memoirs of Joyce, 2004 (1967)

•     Luca Crispi, bibliographic description of Notebook VI.B.2,

•     Luca Crispi & Sam Slote (eds.), How Joyce Wrote Finnegans Wake, A Chapter-by-Chapter Genetic Guide, 2007

•     Vincent Deane, introductions to Finnegans Wake Notebooks VI.B.10, VI.B.3 and VI.B.25, 2001, 2002

•     Richard Ellmann, James Joyce I & II, 1959, 1983

•     Mikio Fuse, comments on Notebook VI.B.5, jj-genetic discussion group

•     Stan Gébler Davies, James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist, 1977 (1975)

•     David Hayman (ed.), James Joyce, A First-Draft Version of Finnegans Wake, 1963

•     James Joyce, Finnegans Wake, 1939, 1975, 2010, 2012

•     James Joyce, Letters I, II, III, ed. Stuart Gilbert, Richard Ellmann, 1957, 1966

•     James Joyce, Selected Letters, ed. Richard Ellmann, 1975

•     James Joyce, The Finnegans Wake Notebooks at Buffalo, VI.B.10, VI.B.3, VI.B.25, ed. Vincent Deane, Daniel Ferrer, Geert Lernout, 2001, 2002

•     James Joyce Archive, ed. Michael Groden, David Hayman, Hans-Walter Gabler, Danis Rose, 1978

•     James Joyce, pre-Finnegans Wake sketches, National Library of Ireland, holdings, pre-Finnegans Wake,

•     Geert Lernout, Help My Unbelief, James Joyce & Religion, 2010

•     Carol Loeb Shloss, Lucia Joyce, To Dance at the Wake, 2003

•     Roland McHugh, Annotations to Finnegans Wake, II & III,  1991, 2006

•     Roland McHugh, ‘Jespersen in Notebooks VI.B.2 and VI.C.2,’ in: A Finnegans Wake Circular Vol.2, No.4, Summer 1987, 61-71.

•     Wim Van Mierlo, ‘St. Martin of Tours,’ in: A Finnegans Wake Circular, Vol.7, 1991-92, 29-44

•     Wim Van Mierlo, ‘Indexing the Buffalo Notebooks. Genetic Criticism and the Construction of Evidence,’ in: Daniel Ferrer & Claude Jacquet (ed.), Writing Its Own Wrunes For Ever, Essais de Génétique Joycienne, Essays in Joycean Genetics, 1998, 169-190

•     Willard Potts (ed.), Portraits of the Artist in Exile, Recollections of James Joyce by Europeans, 1979

•     Arthur Power, Conversations with James Joyce, 1999 (1974)

•     W.R. Rodgers (ed.), Irish Literary Portraits, 1972

•     Danis Rose, The Textual Diaries of James Joyce, 1995

•     Erika Rosiers & Wim Van Mierlo, ‘Neutral Auxiliaries and Universal Idioms: Otto Jespersen in Work in Progress,’ in: Dirk Van Hulle (ed.), James Joyce: The Study of Languages, 2002, 55-70

•     R.J. Schork, Joyce and Hagiography, Saints Above!, 2000

•     Jan van Velze, ‘“Noticeably Longsighted from Green Youth”, Ocular Proof of James Joyce’s True Refractive Error’, unpublished presentation, 2012

•     A. Walton Litz, The Art of James Joyce, Method and Design in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, 1961

•     John Wyse Jackson & Peter Costello, John Stanislaus Joyce, The Voluminous Life and Genius of James Joyce’s Father, 1997


[1] – Oh yeah? And the ‘hiptubbath’ that St. Kevin sits in, inside his seven concentric circles of water? It appears on the very first-draft of the Kevin sketch and was taken from a note in ‘Buttle’ (VI.B.10.086h), deriving from a passage in the ‘Indiscretions’ of Lady Susan (Townley): “The Italian Minister, another of our colleagues, was supposed to be a confirmed bachelor and not very meticulous in his personal habits. Great excitement was created, therefore, when he once returned from leave in a cab, on the top of which figured a shining new hip-bath, whilst inside sat a lady, young and of high degree, whom he had married during his visit home.” Joyce noted “hipbath (semicupio)” when he read the book, around December 1922, and when, in July 1923, he drafted the Kevin sketch, he used the note immediately: MS 47488-24, MT: and seats himself, blessed S. Kevin, in his hiptubbath | JJA 63:038a | Jul 1923 | IV§2.*1 | FW 606.07, see the pertinent pieces in the GJS 11 and 12, which you wrote yourself. Or was it just generally speaking? – Maybe it is the exception to prove the rule? We’ll have to look into it. – We’ll certainly have...

[2] One typo is in all likelihood a printer’s error, the other discrepancy with the word as written by Joyce (and Mme Raphael) appears to be an authorial change. Joyce adds “^Bupabipibambuli^” (JJA 53:284), though the dots on the first two i’s are hard to ascertain with hundred percent certainty. The Finnegans Wake printer, in any case, takes the letters as i’s, but also takes the first p for a b, and prints “Bubabipibambuli” (JJA 53:300) and so it remains in the Wake.