Thursday, 24 May 2012

044.24 to 047.29

Greetings! We've made it to the end of Chapter Two, having read 'The Ballad of Persse O'Reilly' for this week, an interesting version here. It's very exciting to feel as if we're making real progress through the Wake. Some thoughts below...

'The Ballad' appears, at least in one sense, to recapitulate the general narrative of the first two chapters. Beginning with HCEs misdemeanour (cf. 47.02: 'to go and shove himself that way on top of her'; although much more than a little misdemeanour in this iteration) in Phoenix Park, we also have reiterated the religious and political elements of the Parnell narrative, parallelling HCEs own transgressions.

45.28 'Balbaccio, balbuccio!' A delightful insult of HCE for his stuttering ('fafafather' (45.13), 'chaw chaw chops' (45.29), 'hippopopotamuns' (47.08)), combining, according to McHugh, the "diminutive" and "perjorative" suffixes of the Italian.

46.09-11 'bom...Bimbam...bum' A strange similarity to Beckett's play What Where in which the four characters are named Bam Bem Bim  and Bom.

Joyce also retells the tale of the Viking invasions (46.18-24), as the language shifts from a generally romance-based etymology to that of the low countries. There's a surreal exchange between the invading character (with family in tow) speaking with Dublin's Poolbeg Lighthouse.

Song-wise, it all appears to end quite poorly for HCE. A dispute with ALP is brooding, and ALP is also the pesky earwig in HCEs ear. He also appears to be threatened not only with fire ('we'll bonfire all his trash, tricks and trumpery' (46.06)), but the citizens want to kill him outright and bury him in Oxmanstown so that 'not all the king's men nor his horses / Will resurrect his corpus' (47.26-7).

I do, however, have a question on the significance of the invocation of four great writers at 47.19: 'Suffoclose! Shikespower! Suedodanto! Anonymoses!' Are these names invoked because their characters succumb to tragic (and often gruesome) fates? or is there perhaps a further significance that I can't perceive?

We're meeting on the 5th of June at 1 pm to tackle the beginnings of Chapter Three, from 48.01 to 51.20. All welcome of course, both to join our group or to comment below. JG

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