Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Monday, 11 September 2017, Pages 403 - 411

We read as far as "Weak stop work stop walk stop whoak." (411.6)

Of course, we did not read all these 8 pages on one afternoon! But I want to include here all that we have read so far in Book 3 - and more - in order to extract some sense out of these 'fun' pages. I had to seek, naturally, Google's help to search for this 'sense'. I have reproduced what I found below and have listed the sources at the end. At the outset it helps to remember that we are still in the dreamland of Earwicker. He is dreaming of his son Shaun. (Shaun is referred to in FW as The Postman, and his twin brother Shem as The Penman.)

Joyce is said to have written in a letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver the following about this part: "the copying out of Shawn which is a description of a postman travelling backwards in the night through the events already narrated. It is written in the form of a via crucis of 14 stations but in reality it is only a barrel rolling down the river Liffey."*

Wikipedia's page on Finnegans Wake** has the following explanation on Book 3 / chapter 1:
"Part III concerns itself almost exclusively with Shaun, in his role as postman, having to deliver ALP's letter, which was referred to in Part I, but never seen.[71]
III.1 opens with the Four Masters' ass narrating how he thought, as he was "dropping asleep",[72] he had heard and seen an apparition of Shaun the Post.[73] As a result, Shaun re-awakens, and, floating down the Liffey in a barrel, is posed fourteen questions concerning the significance and content of the letter he is carrying. Shaun, "apprehensive about being slighted, is on his guard, and the placating narrators never get a straight answer out of him."[74] Shaun's answers focus on his own boastful personality and his admonishment of the letter's author – his artist brother Shem. After the inquisition Shaun loses his balance and the barrel in which he has been floating careens over and he rolls backwards out of the narrator's earshot, before disappearing completely from view.[75]"
Anthony Burgess has this to say: "In the first chapter he (Shaun) presents himself to the people-sly, demagogic, totally un­trustworthy, obsessed with hatred for his brother and ready with another parable to figure forth the enmity-a charming tale called "The Ondt and the Gracehoper", in which he himself is the industrious insect, while Shem, the irresponsible artist, fritters the hours away in the sunshine. But Shaun is more ready to admit to himself now that his own extrovert philosophy is insufficient, that the life of the "gracehoper" has its points. Shaun can rule over space, but he cannot, like the artist, "beat time". Sooner or later, when Shaun's rule col­lapses, we shall be forced to move back to the father, in whom both dimensions meet and make a rounded world. Shaun rolls off in the form of a barrel: he has filled himself with the food that is his father, but it has not nourished him; he is becoming a big bloated emptiness."***

* Annotations to Finnegans Wake, Roland McHugh, p. 403
** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finnegans_Wake#Part_III
The numbers 71 to 75 refer to the links given in Wikipedia. 
There Book 3 is referred to as part III, and Book 3/chapter 1 as III.1
The first of the fourteen questions is on page 409: 'But have we until now ever besought you, dear Shaun, we remembered, who it was, good boy,.....'
*** http://www.metaportal.com.br/jjoyce/burgess1.htm

Please note that there will be no blog post next week.

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