At our last meeting we read the bulk of HCEs encounter with the cad, a hilarious section that highlighted the ironies of HCEs character. As usual, simply a couple of observations from me; it'd be great to hear your comments (which can be made below).
35.01-02 'They tell the story (an amalgam as absorbing as calzium chloereydes and hyrdrophobe sponges could make it)...' I think one of my most regular observations on the wake is the importance of irony and sarcasm to the presentation of the narrative. As the narrator introduces the reader to the encounter between the two characters, Joyce jumps between complexity and simplicity. The parenthetical interruption presents a doubled sort of irony, the first the distinction between a 'hydrophobe sponge' and calcium chloride (which absorbs water). This almost paradoxical comparison is then applied to the story we're about to read, an ironic questioning (as least for me) of some of the more wacky of Joyce's narratological techniques.
35.01-11 Similar to my observation above, in establishing the scene for the encounter builds layer upon layer of detail. This appears to be undermined by the very simplicity of the conclusion to the sentence, in which we are finally told that "he [HCE] met a cad with a pipe." This combination of ambiguity and clarity works effectively with HCEs blundering attempts to explain himself whilst simultaneously attempting to interpret the cads intentions.
35.32-36.13 Perhaps the combination of clarity and obfuscation should be interpreted as Joyce's representation of HCEs speaking style; a combination of pomposity and simplicity. The passage I'm referring to here is only part of HCEs response to the cad's request for the time (for which HCE consults his 'chronometrum drumdrum' whilst also hearing the church bells and exclaiming that it is 'twelve of em sidereal and tankard time'. Most crucial (or perhaps just funny) to me is a bracketed interjection in which the narrator pokes fun at HCEs style, describing an imaginary tome, 'the Sayings Attributive of H. C. Earwicker'. Definitely not the saviour here, but Joyce again seems to poke fun at himself and his characters simultaneously.
A very brief series of observations, with much more possible from the very famous passage. Please let me know your thoughts by commenting below.
We're meeting on Tuesday the 24th of April, at 1 pm, reading from 38.09 to 42.16 (although I'm sure we'll get nowhere near to the end!)