CRIB SHEET for (a day’s  worth of) Finnegans Wake
by Kathryn Conrad
assisted  by Roland McHugh
’s Annotations and William York Tindall’s A Reader’s Guide to Finnegans Wake



FINNEGANS WAKE was in part inspired by the raucous song “Finnegan’s Wake,” about Tim Finnegan, a heavy drinker who falls off a ladder and is presumed dead; he is “waked” by his relatives and friends who think him dead, but then he arises.  Go to the Joycean links portion of the class website for a link to a couple of recordings of this song.



A major shaper of the book:
Giambattista Vico
, author of The New Science.  (paraphrased from Tindall and McHugh)
He believed that nations all go through the following cyclical pattern:
1. the age of gods
: God’s thunder drives people to the cave.  Religion, the family. Gestures, pictures, fables.  Birth.  (there are ten thunderwords in the Wake)
2. the age of heroes
: Revolution of the lower classes against the aristocracy.   Alphabets, metaphors, proverbs; vulgar and abstract speech.  Marriage.
3. the age of people
: The levelling off after revolution.  Cities and laws, popular government.  It destroys itself.  Burial.
4. ricorso (resurrection)
: which starts the cycle again.
The book goes through this cycle repeatedly.



A ridiculously incomplete cast of characters:|

-HCE:  the main male character; the father; H.C. Earwicker.  His head is at Howth (HCE stands for, among other things, Howth Castle and Environs), his feet in Phoenix Park.  He has “fallen”--been brought down or committed some sin.
-ALP:  the female character; the mother; Anna Livia Plurabelle.  She is the River Liffey that flows through Dublin.


Their children:

        -Shem (the Penman)

        -Shaun (the Postman)
       --the brothers.  Rivals, often indicated by other pairings:  Nick/Mick, Jerry/Kevin, Nolan/Browne, Mutt/Jeff.  They sometimes come together in opposition to HCE.  They sometimes appear as washerwomen, airing HCE
’s “dirty linen.”

-Issy: the daughter.  Often accompanied by 28 girls, known sometimes as the floras or rainbow girls.  Also can be seen as a version of ALP.


Other characters:
Twelve men:  disciples, mourners, customers at HCE’s pub, jurors, etc.
Four men: 

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (AKA mamalujo)

 judges of HCE

The Four Masters (authors of the history Annals of the Four Masters)