CRIB SHEET for (a days worth of) Finnegans
by Kathryn Conrad
assisted by Roland McHughs Annotations and William York Tindalls A Readers Guide to Finnegans Wake
FINNEGANS WAKE was in part inspired by the raucous song Finnegans 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: Gods 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.
-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 HCEs 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.
Twelve men: disciples, mourners, customers at HCEs pub, jurors, etc.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, John (AKA mamalujo)
judges of HCE
The Four Masters (authors of the history Annals of the Four Masters)