Thursday, 10 May 2012

042.17 to 044.21

Hi all. We grappled with a much more manageable two pages this week, and had a great time doing so. A few thoughts from me that appear (at this moment) relevant:

42.17 "lieder" When we discussed how we would approach the lead in to 'The Balled of Persse O'Reilly' Lou observed that the final paragraph before the song appeared to owe much to songwriting and musicality in general. I think that we lucked out beginning where we did, because 'lieder' in the first line of our reading is the German for 'songs.' So, we are immediately inducted by Joyce into a musical register.

42.20 "(Eleutheriodendron! Spare, woodmann, spare!)" A very neat metaphor for freedom that is initially developed from the comparison between HCE and ALP pursued in the previous couple of lines, then reiterated by the linking of freedom and the tree (both from the Greek). Also of note: Beckett's first play (written in 1947, published after his death in 1995) is Eleutheria.

This short section suggested to me a strong similarity to the 'Circe' section of Ulysses, in which Bloom's wanderings through the night are slowly populated by more and more characters (including all those who have previously appeared in the text; cf. "supercrowd" (42.22)) before the entire scene explodes in rhapsody. This build up to celebration (or a song in FW's case) appears to owe much to musical theatre in which characters slowly gather on stage, the narrative continuing, until a musical cue (like 44.23) stops time, and all the characters present sing a song.

Although the temporal structure of FW is in no way clear to me yet, the temporal disruption of the 'The Ballad of Persse O'Reilly' definitely suggests that time is not simple within the novel. Staggering observation I know... However, the temporal disruption of musical theatre is doubled here by the various other disruptions of space and geography that Joyce includes. Most notably on 42 and 43 what began in the previous pages as a group of drunks badgering HCE for drink quickly expands to include all of Dublin, then the UK, and into Gaul and (ancient) western Europe.

Our next meeting is on 22 May at 1 pm, reading from 44.24 to 47.29 (the end of chapter two). Progress is being made!

As usual, I plead for comments, which can be entered below this post. I'd also appreciate you 'following' my blog. This will get you regular updates and more (perhaps). There's a button somewhere on your right for it. Finally, Lou sent me this link, which encapsulates some of the many emotions I've had whilst reading the Wake. Check it out!


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