Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Finn's Hotel

I took this photo when visiting Sweny's in 2013

This is the beginning of South Leinster Street, Dublin.  It's a terrace that forms the south wall of Trinity College, and is just over the road from Sweny the chemist. High up on the redbrick wall, you can see a ghost sign 'Finn's Hotel'. 

Thom's Dublin Directory 1904

Nora Barnacle was working as a maid here in the summer of 1904, when she first met James Joyce and walked out with him to Ringsend, probably on 16 June.


Today, the Lincoln's Inn pub, down the road at 19 Lincoln Place, has a sign on its glass door: 'This was the original front door of Finn’s Hotel – Nora Barnacle worked here in June 1904.'  The pub now offers Joyce's Stout ('don't worry, folks - this dry Irish stout is far from being as complex as its name sake'), Bloomsday Lager and Nora's Red Ale. 

From the Lincoln's Inn facebook page

Thom's Dublin Directory shows that 19 Lincoln Place was Michael Fanning's pub in 1904, but it's nice to see the hotel commemorated here.


In 1909, Joyce returned to Dublin to open the first Irish cinema, the Volta Electric Theatre on Mary Street. He was accompanied by four Italian business partners, Nicolo Vidacovich, Antonio Machnich, Giuseppe Caris and Giovanni Rebez. 

Joyce booked the Italians rooms in Finn's Hotel, probably because it was cheap and central. It also gave him the opportunity to visit the hotel and see the room where Nora had slept.

'Today I went to the hotel where she lived when I first met her. I halted in the dingy doorway before going in I was so excited. I have not told them my name but I have an impression that they know who I am. Tonight I was sitting at the table in the dining-room at the end of the hall with two Italians at dinner. I ate nothing. A pale-faced girl waited at table, perhaps her successor. The place is very Irish. I have lived so long abroad and in so many countries that I can feel at once the voice of Ireland in anything. The disorder of the table was Irish, the wonder on the faces also, the curious-looking eyes of the woman herself and her waitress....A strange land, a strange house, strange eyes and the shadow of a strange strange girl standing silently by the fire, or gazing out of the window across the misty College park. What mysterious beauty clothes every place where she has lived!'

To Nora, 19 November 1909, Selected Letters, p178

'The Four Italians have left Finn's Hotel and live now over the show. I paid about £20 to your late mistress, returning good for evil. Before I left the hotel I told the waitress who I was and asked her to let me see the room where you slept in. She took me upstairs and took me to it. You can imagine my excited appearnce and manner. I saw my love's room, her bed, the four little walls within which she dreamed of my eyes and voice, the little curtains she pulled aside in the morning to look out over the grey sky of Dublin, the poor modest silly little things on the walls over which her glance travelled while she undressed her fair young body at night.'

To Nora, 11 December 1909, Selected Letters, p187

In 1912, Nora visisted Ireland, and stayed in Finn's Hotel where 'in contrast to her husband's lachrymose visits to the shrine she experienced a small triumph at being guest instead of chambermaid.' (Ellmann, JJ, p323)



This is the cover of the Spring 1989 issue of A Finnegans Wake Circular, which contains 'The Name of the Book', a brilliant piece of detective work from Danis Rose and John O'Hanlon.  You can download the whole run of the FWC from Ian Gunn's magnificent Joycetools page, set up in honour of Clive Hart.

Rose and O'Hanlon present conclusive evidence that Finnegans Wake was originally titled Finn's Hotel.

Richard Ellmann said that Joyce revealed the title to Nora 'in strictest secrecy', which would be a romantic gesture if the book was named after the hotel. Imagine her indifferent reaction to being told he was writing a book called Finnegans Wake!

Rose and O'Hanlon imagine the scene.

'When Joyce had thought of the book's title to be, he said to Nora: Nora, the name of this new book of mine - are you ready? - is Finn's Hotel. But this is to be strictly between the two of us. You are not to breathe a word of it to a sinner. Can you promise me that, a cuishla'
Rose and O'Hanlon's evidence for this comes from Joyce's notebooks, his letters to Harriet Shaw Weaver, and the text of Finnegans Wake itself.

In Joyce's notebook VI.B.25, written in Bognor Regis, in 1923, we first find the name of the hotel.
'Finn's Hotel.' VI.B.25, 81
'Finn's Hotel I House that Finn Built' VI.B.25.82
'Finn's Hotel I ... /they rifle wardrobes' VI.B.25. 82
In later notebooks from 1923-4, the name of the hotel appears several times, often as initials. F.H. can now become any public building.

'all tongues in F.H./ tower of babel' VI.B.6.102
'parl in FH' VI.B.2.42
'FH W[omen] talk from various stages (the centuries) children play in the courtyard. It becomes barracks, hospital, museum.' VI.B.2 2f
'Flying House (FH)' VI.B.2.94  
'Kitty O'Shea=FH' VI.B.20.48  

In February 1924, Joyce came up with a square sign, which he now used to stand for a public building instead of F.H. Here are some typical uses, from Roland McHugh's Sigla of Finnegans Wake.
The key evidence that the name of the hotel was also the book's title comes from Joyce's letter of 24 March 1924 to Harriet Shaw Weaver explaining his sigla system.


According to Ellmann, when Joyce met Weaver in London in April 1927, he 'suggested that she try to guess the title of the book.' (Ellmann 597). This was part of his campaign to involve her in his book, which she disapproved of.
Two notebook entries refer to a competition to guess the name of the house/title. 
Jane Lidderdale and Mary Nicholson, HSW's biogaphers, and Ellmann describe the guessing game that followed, selectively quoting the letters. They leave out some key evidence, in the mistaken belief that the book's title was always Finnegans Wake.

Here's the whole guessing game, from the letters section of the Digital Archive (which includes unpublished letters from the Weaver papers in the British Library). The square siglum is represented by []:
HSW by Man Ray

16 April 1927. JJ: ‘I think I have done what I wanted to do. I am glad you like my punctuality as an engine driver. I have taken this up because I am really one of the great engineers, if not the greatest, in the world besides being a musicmaker, philosophist and heaps of other things. All the engines I know are wrong. Simplicity. I am making an engine with only one wheel. No spokes of course. The wheel is a perfect square. You see what I am driving at, don’t you? I am awfully solemn about it, mind you, so you must not think it is a silly story about the mouse and the grapes. It’s a wheel, I tell the world. And it’s all square.’ 
16 April 1927. HSW: 'A Wheeling Square...Squaring the Wheel.' 
12 May 1927 JJ to HSW: 'I shall use some of your suggestions about [] of which you have a right idea. The title is very simple and as commonplace as can be. It is not Kitty O'Shea as some have suggested, though it is in two words. I want to think over it more as I propose to make some experiments with it also....My remarks about the engine were not meant as a hint at the title. I meant that I wanted to take up several other arts and crafts and teach everybody how to do everything properly, so as to be in the fashion.' 
(This letter recalls Joyce's note 'Kitty O'Shea=FH' VI.B.20.4)
19 May 1927 HSW: 'One Squared'

31 May 1927 JJ: 'As regards the title, ‘one squared’ can be used in the ‘math’ lesson by the writer of Part II if he, or she, is so ‘dispoged’. The title I projected is much more commonplace and accords with the J J & S and A.G.S. & Co sign and it ought to be fairly plain from a reading of w. The sign in this form means H.C.E. interred in the landscape.'

13 June 1927 HSW: 'Dublin Ale'

23 June 1927 JJ: 'Your guesses get nearer but [] is the name of a ‘place where’ not a ‘thing which’ or a ‘person who’.

28 June 1927 HSW: 'Ireland's Eye…Phoenix Park…Dublin Bay'

10 July 1927 JJ: Ireland's Eye (ey = island in Danish) is an islet off Howth Head. Phoenix Park is rather close but it is a place not built by hands — at least not all — whereas [] is.

26 July 1927 JJ: 'Two of your guesses were fairly near the last is off the track. The piece I am hammering at ought to reveal it.'

14 August 1927 JJ: 'As to 'Phoenix'. A viceroy who knew no Irish thought this was the word the Dublin people used and put up a monument of a phoenix in the park. The Irish was: fionn uisge (pron. finn ishghe =clear water) from a well of bright water there'

N.D. August 1927 HSW: 'Finn MacCool'

30 August 1927 JJ: 'This is to … tell you that the first word of your guess is right with an apostrophe ‘s’ so I suppose you can finish it.'
17 September 1927. HSW: 'Finn's Town, Finn's City'.
So the title of Joyce's book was in two words,  'a place' in Dublin, 'built by hands', whose first word was 'Finn's'.  He did not reply to her final two guesses, which were very close.

Here are Rose and O'Hanlon:
'Had Miss Weaver known in richer detail the minutiae of Joyce's early life, or had Joyce wished to continue the game, she would perhaps have finally guessed right, with unknown consequences for the title-page of the book that was published nearly twelve years later' 


Joyce's game with Harriet Shaw Weaver inspired question 3 in the Quiz chapter, written in July-August 1927. Here Shem asks Shaun the title/ name of the house.  On the manuscript, Joyce drew his square siglum next to this question, showing that its subject was the title of his book.

3. Which title is the true-to-type motto-in-lieu for that Tick for Teac thatchment painted witt wheth one darkness, where asnake is under clover and birds aprowl are in the rookeries and a magda went to monkishouse and a riverpaard was spotted, which is not Whichcroft Whorort not Ousterholm Dreyschluss not Haraldsby, grocer, not Vatandcan, vintner, not Houseboat and Hive not Knox-atta-Belle not O’Faynix Coalprince not Wohn Squarr Roomyeck not Ebblawn Downes not Le Decer Mieux not Benjamin’s Lea not Tholomew’s Whaddingtun gnot Antwarp gnat Musca not Corry’s not Weir’s not the Arch not The Smug not The Dotch House not The Uval nothing Grand nothing Splendid (Grahot or Spletel) nayther Erat Est Erit noor Non michi sed luciphro? 

Answer: Thine obesity, O civilian, hits the felicitude of our orb!  139.28-140.07

Shaun gets the answer wrong, mistakenly believing that he's been asked for the Dublin motto rather than a title. The introduction to the chapter alerts us to his mistaking a name for a motto:

'He misunderstruck and aim for am ollo of number three of them.'  126.08

Shaun couldn't have given a right answer without giving away the title of the book, which Joyce still wanted to keep secret in 1927, when the chapter was published in transition.

This question, with its list of wrong answers which are places, businesses, pubs and hotels,  only makes sense if the right answer is a place.  The correct answer to this question must be 'Finn's Hotel'.

With 'Wohn Squarr Roomyeck' Joyce has included one of Miss Weaver's guesses, 'one squared', combined with his 1925-1931 Paris address, 2 Square Robiac.  Other wrong answers are real places where the Joyces stayed, such as Antwerp.

'Antwerp I renamed Gnantwerp, for I was devoured there by mosquitoes.' To HSW  24.9.26.

'Grand nothing Splendid (Grahot or Spletel)'

Joyce stayed at the Grand Hotel in Antwerp from 17-20 September 1926, when he was bitten by the mosquitoes. 

After retitling his book, Joyce could have rewritten the question, to include song titles ('which is not Miss Hooligan's Christmas Cake, not Enniscorthy, not Phil the Fluter's Ball...'). But he left his text as a palimpsest, revealing earlier versions of his plan.

The cover of Rose and O'Hanlon's article quotes page 514, where the title is concealed and revealed.
Finn's Hotel was a great title for Joyce's book, since it combines the name of a mythical Irish giant with a modern Dublin 'very Irish' hotel.  It suits a book in which the last high king of Ireland appears as a publican, Tristan as a football hero, and Iseult as a film star flapper.



The big mystery is when and why Joyce changed the title to Finnegans Wake. And how did Nora react when he told her that his book's title no longer commemorated their courtship? 

When I posted this on twitter, Sam Slote shared an intriguing note made by Joyce in mid–late 1926.

'name K.O./ w of b of J’s f’s w / describe — f'.  VI.B.15.99

Sam says, 'The 'w of b' is not clear, but J's f's w = Joyce's Finnegan's Wake (with apostrophe)'

Late 1926 was the very time that Joyce introduced the song into his book, in the opening chapter. 

But if he was thinking of using Finnegan's Wake as a title in 1926, he had changed his mind by 1927, when he had his guessing game with Harriet Shaw Weaver and wrote the Quiz chapter.

Rose and O'Hanlon argue that the earliest dateable reference to the song as title is from 1937:

 'It was in the Summer of [1937] at a time when he was revising the galleys of Part III, that we find the earliest (to date) datable - and yet not entirely undebatable - reference to Finnegans Wake qua title. On galley 199,17 just before ".i .. ' . . o .. l", Joyce added the phrase: "Name or redress him and we'll call it a night!", the second part of which he derived from page 2 of notebook VI.B.44 (which he was compiling around this time). The phrase appears to betoken a signal for a change of a name and/or of an address. (''Finn's Hotel", one should note, is both.) It may be, also, that he had (at least for a moment) intended to change the line that followed - ".i . .'s .o .. l" - for we find on page 45 of that same notebook (VI.B.44),18 after one misformulated and deleted attempt the cryptonym:
.i..e.a. ' .. a ..
That is "Finnegan's Wake", with its consonants and one vowel out, and the really curious thing about it is that it still retains the apostrophe. The final disapostrophised version can only have come later.'

Around the same time, in June 1937, Joyce had a long conversation about his book with Jan Parandowski.

''Perhaps you have heard that I am writing something...'
'Work in Progress.'
'Yes, it doesn't have a title yet. The few fragments which I have published have been enough to convince many critics that I have finally lost my mind, which by the way they have been predicting faithfully for many years.....

I saddened at the thought of the exhausting, obstinate toil that Joyce had put into his book, which had no other chance than to be regarded by both his contemporaries and posterity as a genial caprice....His last work seems to me a wrecked ship, incapable of delivering its cargo to anyone....
Such, more or less, was the burden of my silence, from which I could not rouse myself. Joyce was whistling thoughtfully some sort of tune that I did not recognize. I asked, 'What is that you are whistling?'
'Oh, it's one of those old, old ballads from the music hall; it ends: 'Isn't it the truth I've told you, /Lots of fun at Finnegan's wake.''
He repeated the last verse again. I didn't know at the time that it contained more or less the hidden source and the very title of his curious work. '

Jan Parandowski, 'Meeting with Joyce', in Portraits of the Artist in Exile (ed Willard Potts), pp 160-2



Around the same time, Joyce revived his title guessing game, offering a cash prize of 1,000 francs, which was a big sum in the late 30s. The final winner was Eugene Jolas, who later explained how he guessed the title:

'Some six months before Work in Progess was scheduled to apear, there was an amusing incident in connection with its title, then known only to Mr and Mrs Joyce. Often he had challenged his friends to guess it. We all tried: Stuart Gilbert, Herbert Gorman, Samuel Beckett, Paul Léon, and I, but we failed miserably. One summer night, while dining on the terrace of Fouquet's, Joyce repeated his offer.  The Riesling was especilally good that night, and we were in high spirits. Mrs Joyce began to sing an Irish song about Mr Flannigan and Mrs Shannigan. Joyce looked startled and urged her to stop. This she did, but when he saw no harm had been done, he very distinctly, as a singer does it, made the lip motions which seemed to indicate F and W. My wife's guess was Fairy's Wake. Joyce looked astonished and said 'Brava! But something is missing.' For a few days we mulled over it. One morning I knew it was Finnegans Wake, although it was only an intuition. That evening I suddenly threw all the words into the air. Joyce blanched. Slowly he set down the wineglass he held. 'Ah, Jolas, you've taken something out of me,' he said, almost sadly. When we parted that night, he embraced me, danced a few of his intricate steps, and asked: 'How would you like to have the money?' I replied: 'In sous'.  The following morning, during my absence from home, he arrived with a bag filled with ten-franc pieces. He gave them to my daughters with instructions to serve them to me at lunch. So it was Finnegans Wake. All those present were sternly enjoined not to reveal it, and we kept it a secret until he made the official announcement at his birthday dinner on the following February second.'

Eugene Jolas, 'My Friend James Joyce',  in Givens (ed) James Joyce: Two Decades of Criticism, Vanguard, 1948.


Oh to time travel back to the terrace of Fouquet's on that summer night in 1938. I would walk up to Joyce's table and say, 'The title is Finn's Hotel!' What would he have said? How would Nora have reacted?

Harriet Shaw Weaver, who was the source of the money for the cash prize, only found out the name of the book when she saw the proofs for the title page on 4 February 1939.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021

Sylvia Silence, the girl detective

Sylvia Silence?

Shortly after Ida Wombwell, the 17 year old  revivalist, describes HCE as 'a brut! But a magnificent brut!', Sylvia Silence, the girl detective, is asked her opinion. 

'Sylvia Silence, the girl detective (Meminerva, but by now one hears turtlings all over Doveland!) when supplied with informations as to the several facets of the case in her cozydozy bachelure’s flat, quite overlooking John a’Dream’s mews, leaned back in her really truly easy chair to query restfully through her vowelthreaded syllabelles: Have you evew thought, wepowtew, that sheew gweatness was his twadgedy? Nevewtheless accowding to my considewed attitudes fow this act he should pay the full penalty, pending puwsuance, as pew Subsec. 32, section 11, of the C. L. A. act 1885, anything in this act to the contwawy notwithstanding.' 61.01-11

Vincent Deane identified Joyce's source for Sylvia as an advertisment for The Schoolgirls' Weekly in The Sunday Express of 29 October 1922. 

'No. 2 Just Out […] includes all these tip-top stories:— Eldorado Nell / A thrilling tale of life in the Far West / Sylvia Silence / the girl detective' 

It's a shame Eldorado Nell didn't get into Finnegans Wake.

Since Joyce only saw this advert, he had to imagine what such a girl detective might be like. He compares her to Minerva, goddess of wisdom, and gives her a comic rhotacism (inability to pronounce the letter 'r') which he even applies to r's which aren't pronounced (the 'r' in 'considered' 'per' etc). Sylvia is a consulting detective, like Sherlock Holmes or Nero Wolfe, looking at the 'several facets of the case' in her 'cozodozy bachelure's flat'. Unlike the other members of the public questioned, who give short direct answers, Sylvia seems to see this as a personal interview with her celebrity self.

In the first draft, Joyce gave her an additional moralistic line, which was then cut or lost:

'The ends of justice must not be earwigged.'

Stephen Crowe has made a beautiful illustration of Sylvia Silence sitting in her flat, which you can see here.

Her voice and name reappear later in the Stories chapter:

Imagine twee cweamy wosen. Suppwose you get a beautiful thought and cull them sylvias sub silence.  337.16

We also hear her voice in the séance, still talking with the reporter, channeled by the sleeping Yawn:

—Have you ever weflected, wepowtew, that the evil what though it was willed might nevewtheless lead somehow on to good towawd the genewality? 523.02


The Schoolgirls' Weekly was a brand new paper in 1922, with new kinds of stories, mostly written by men, using female pen names. Sylvia Silence was created by John William Bobin, writing as Katherine Greenhalgh. He's described here by Lucy Parker in 100 British Crime Writers (edited by Esme MisKimmon, Springer Press, 2020):

I've also found an entry for Sylvia Silence in Russell James's Great British Fictional Detectives, which includes a supposed picture of her.

By an extraordinary coincidence I bought this greeting card last week for a friend's birthday.  I only looked at it properly after posting this blog.  It's the cover of an Angela Brazil novel published in 1920, so the right period but wrong girl. This is Ingerd Saxon not Sylvia Silence.


Bobin had created a successful formula, which you can see throughout the run of The Schoolgirls' Weekly. This is from the entry on the paper on the wonderful Friardale website.

' In January 1933 came "That Amazing Room Of Clocks" written by J.W. Bobin as Adelie Ascott, the first tale of Valerie Drew the 18 year old intrepid girl detective, doting daughter of an ex-Scotland Yard Chief Commissioner. "The Secret Of The Old Clock" written by Mildred Wirt as Carolyn Keene was published in America in 1930 and concerned Nancy Drew the 16 year old intrepid girl detective, whose doting father Carson Drew was a famous criminal lawyer cum detective. In Valerie's adventures over the next 7 years she was ably assisted by Flash, an alsation dog who acted almost human at times, and was more useful than Ned Nickerson was to Nancy. Both Nancy and Valerie were also well seasoned teenage motorists (at 18 Nancy was even a qualified pilot), their common sense and innate decency went almost unbelievably deep. The stories were always concise, entertaining, never heavy or heavy-going, and a charming if often melodramatic window on the world of the 1930's from an allegedly young female point of view. Unlike the Noel Raymond detective series running in the Girls' Crystal it was nearly always obvious who the guilty party was.'

You can read a complete 1933 Valerie Drew story here.


Nancy Drew, the American schoolgirl sleuth, is still solving cases today. 



'I am quite content to go down to posterity as a scissors and paste man'

Joyce to George Antheil, 3 January 1931, Letters, 297

Going back to the Wake passage, it's fascinating to see how it was assembled from diverse sources, which had nothing to do with schoolgirl magazines. Following the blue hyperlinks in the brilliant Digital Archive, we can read Joyce's notes, taken from newspapers and books:

'Sylvia Silence, the girl  detective', 'supplied with this information', 'really truly easychair', 'restfully', 'vowelthreaded', 'J Caesar, greatness his tragedy', 'considered judgement' 'full penalty',   'Sect XI Crim. Law. Amend.  Act 1885', 'anything in his act to the contrary notwithstanding'

Most of the sources have not been identified, though one note ('J Caesar, greatness his tragedy') shows Joyce had been reading about Julius Caesar. It would be very hard to track down the source of 'restfully'.

'Full penalty' is one of the many phrases, identified by Vincent Deane, taken from the 1922 Daily Sketch article on Bywaters:

'Petition for Reprieve of Bywaters is Ready To-Day': 'A taxicab driver: Bywaters is a silly young fellow, but he ought not to pay the full penalty'

Viviana-Mirela Braslasu discovered that the word 'vowelthreaded' was taken from the opening page of Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and Kenneth Macleod's Songs of the Hebrides, 1917.


'Subsec. 32, section 11, of the C. L. A. act 1885'

Oscar Wilde was tried for 'gross indecency' under section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885. There is no subsection 32. Joyce has added that number to create the magical 1132 - the big number/date in Finnegans Wake, which relates to the law of falling bodies ('32 feet per second per second').  Oscar Wilde and HCE are both falling bodies.

Sam Slote found Joyce's specific source in Frank Harris's book Oscar Wilde His Life and Confessions, 1918.

 Here is the very section of the act.

Oscar Wilde was sentenced to two years with hard labour.

For more on Wilde in the Wake, see my post Oscar Wilde: The Great White Caterpillar.

Often there's a dark undercurrent to the comedy in Finnegans Wake. I think we get that here with the seemingly sweet Sylvia Silence, relaxing in her cozydozy bachelure's flat, demanding the harshest punishment for HCE.

Discussing the Thompson and Bywaters case with Arthur Power, Joyce talked about the censoriousness of the English: 

'Though there is plenty of legal liberty in England...there is not much individual liberty, for in England every man acts as a censor to his neighbour, while here in Paris you have the only real freedom in Europe, where no one gives a damn about what his neighbour thinks or does...But in England everybody is busy about everybody else.'

Conversations with James Joyce, p.76


Saturday, 24 July 2021

Ida Wombwell, the seventeenyearold revivalist

'Missioner Ida Wombwell, the seventeenyearold revivalist, said concerning the coincident of interfizzing with grenadines and other respectable and disgusted peersons using the park: That perpendicular person is a brut! But a magnificent brut!' 60.22

This passage, written in November 1923, comes from the Plebiscite section, where members of the public are asked their opinion of the guilt or innocence of HCE. Most of the people questioned are taken from a real newspaper plebiscite, published in the Daily Sketch, on the guilt of Frederick Bywaters, condemned to hang for murder.  But Ida Wombwell isn't in that article.
The sentence is based on this note that Joyce wrote in September-November 1923. 

'Ida Wombwell / 17yr girl revivalist' VI.B.11.

I've just discovered that, in the early 1920s, there was a real Ida Wombwell - a teenage Methodist preacher from Nottingham. I've been on her trail through the pages of The Primitive Methodist Leader.  
This article is from 17 April 1924.

Here's another article from the same paper, dated 13 November 1924. She is called a 'girl preacher' and a 'missioner' (missionary).

A few years later, she was touring Australia, as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald of 24 May 1929.

There we leave Ida, on her missionary tour of every state in Australia. She would surely have been astonished to learn that she became a character in Finnegans Wake!
I looked her up on and found this.
The articles in the Primitive Methodist Leader are too late to have been used by Joyce, who wrote about Ida in 1923. Now someone (with the patience of Vincent Deane) needs to track down the specific newspaper article where Joyce found her.  I suspect it was published in 1922, when she was 17 years old. 

Ida must be a relation of 'the market missioners Hayden Wombwell' 529.01

Joyce was amused by religious revivalists, like J Alexander Dowie who appears in Ulysses
'Come on, you winefizzling ginsizzling booseguzzling existences! Come on, you dog-gone, bullnecked, beetlebrowed, hogjowled, peanutbrained, weaseleyed four flushers, false alarms and excess baggage! Come on, you triple extract of infamy! Alexander J. Christ Dowie, that's yanked to glory most half this planet from 'Frisco Beach to Vladivostok. The Deity ain't no nickel dime bumshow. I put it to you that he's on the square and a corking fine business proposition. He's the grandest thing yet and don't you forget it. Shout salvation in King Jesus. You'll need to rise precious early, you sinner there, if you want to diddle the Almighty God.'
He had a record of Amy Semple Macpherson preaching which he played Morley Callaghan:

''Do you think Mr and Mrs Callaghan would like to hear the record?' he asked his wife. 'What record?' asked McAlmon, blinking suspiciously...Mrs Joyce was regarding my wife and me very gravely. 'Yes,' she said. 'I think it might interest them.'
'What record?' McAlmon repeated uneasily.
Mrs Joyce rose, got a record out of a cabinet and put it on the machine. After a moment my wife
and I looked at each other in astonishment. Aimee Semple McPherson was preaching a sermon! At that time, everyone in Europe and America had heard of Mrs McPherson, the attractive, seductive blonde evangelist from California. But why should Joyce be interested in the woman evangelist?
   The evangelist had an extraordinary voice, warm, low, throaty and imploring. But what was she asking for? As we listened, my wife and I exchanging glances, we became aware that the Joyces were watching us intently, while Mrs McPherson's voice rose and fell. The voice, in a tone of ecstatic abandonment, took on an ancient familiar rhythm. It became like a woman's urgent love moan as she begged. 'Come, come on to me, And I will give you rest...and I will give you rest...Come, come...' My wife, her eyebrows raised, caught my glance, then we averted our eyes, as if afraid that the Joyces would know what we were thinking. But Joyce, who had been watching us intently, had caught our glance. It was enough. He brightened and chuckled. Then Mrs Joyce, who had also kept her eyes on us, burst out laughing herself. Nothing had to be explained. Grinning mischievously, in enormous satisfaction with his small success, Joyce poured us another drink.'
That Summer in Paris 
Aimee, whose mother worked for the Salvation Army, is in Finnegans Wake:
'the aimees of servation' 351.33

This must be the record!

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Painted Saws in Ovingdean


Meet my friend Jo Goddard, abstract ceramic sculptor and tiki mug maker, in a report from Latest TV's William Ranieri. 

Last year, Jo inherited a collection of saws from her father. She had the inspired idea to get her friends to paint the saws, and then exhibit them in her garden. The exhibition is called Out of the Woods, and it's running until the end of this month.

Thirty artists took part, including sculptors and ceramicists.

Lisa painted her saw with day and night scenes inspired Ken Layne's Desert Oracle Radio, one of our favourite radio shows. 

We listen to Desert Oracle every Saturday evening, sipping a Dark and Stormy cocktail and watching the sun set. It transports us from Lockdown Britain to the spooky Mojave desert, where coyotes howl and strange lights are seen in the sky.

Gram Parsons, the fallen angel, is on Lisa's handle. Listen to episode 3 of Desert Oracle Radio to find out why Gram and Joshua Tree are forever connected.

La Llorona on the other side is the dark-haired weeping ghost woman, often seen on the Old Spanish Trail through the Mojave - the one we now call Route 66. 'Listen for her,' says Ken, 'at the lonesome edge of town. Watch for her.'

This is how the show always opens.

I painted my saw with the hundred letter thunderword from the first page of Finnegans Wake.  It's made up of words for thunder in Arabic (gargarahat), Hindi (karak), Japanese (kaminari), Finnish (ukkonen), Greek (brontê), French (tonnerre), Italian (tuono), Portuguese (trovão), Swedish (åska), Danish (torden) and Irish ( tórnach), joined together to make a mighty thunderclap.

Here's how the great Jim Norton (Bishop Len Brennan from Father Ted) reads the word, from the Naxos audiobook.


The handle has Joyce's sigla - the symbols he used to stand for the various characters in Finnegans Wake.

Joyce's one good eye is covered with a patch after yet another iridectomy. He wears a white jacket to reflect the available light, though he can barely see anything with his right eye. I took care with the tie because he told the portrait artist Patrick Tuohy, 'Never mind my soul, Tuohy. Just make sure you get my tie right.'

The other side is the River Liffey flowing into Dublin bay on the last page of Finnegans Wake, and the riverrun that continues on the first page.

The handle is the Irish Sea, and the god Oceanus-Neptune-Manaanan McLir.

And it's old and old it's sad and old it's sad and weary I go back to you, my cold father, my cold mad father, my cold mad feary father, till the near sight of the mere size of him, the moyles and moyles of it, moananoaning, makes me seasilt saltsick and I rush, my only, into your arms.

The river, which is carrying Autumn leaves, is the colour of the hair of Livia Svevo, a model for Anna Livia.  Here's a photo of her with hair hair down, from the Museo Sveviana in Trieste.

courtesy of Museo Sveviano, Trieste

Joyce said, 'I've...immortalized the tresses of Signora Svevo. These were long and reddish-blond. My sister who used to see them let down told me about them. The river at Dublin passes dye-houses and so has reddish water. So I have playfully compared these two things in the book I'm writing.'

I only realised after I'd delivered the saw that I'd made a mistake with the book's final sentence. This was spotted by Finn Fordham

The irony is that the Faber typesetters made a similar mistake, except they lost 'a lost'!

We went over to Ovingdean where I built a state-of-the-art display unit for the saws.  

Night side saws

Here I am at the opening, a rare chance to wear a suit. The great tiki mugs on the table were made by Jo.

Day side saws

Here are some more saws I photographed at the exhibition opening. These are by the tattoo artists Alex and Zoe Binnie (front), Billy Chainsaw (middle) and Matt Noir (fence).

Here's Chris 'Sick' Moore with his saws. He's inspired by the great midcentury American illustrators Jim Flora, Cliff Roberts, Saul Bass and Ed 'Big Daddy' Roth. 

I love the devil he painted on the handle of his Robert Johnson Me and the Devil saw.

Mimi Butler decorated her saw with a long-necked bird.

Mimi also created the lovely blackbird signage for the exhibition.

Here are two saws from Wintz, who says that the second one is a 'very deliberate colour combo to really mess with your eyes!' See Wintz's 'drawings from alternate realms' on Instgram.

Jeremy Diaper, architect, decorated his saws with drawings of buildings near his home in Kemptown.

I like the rusty background.

Matt Noir is interested in 'the symbolic power of objects, how they are bestowed with meaning, evoke memories and develop narratives.' Here's one of his still life saws.

Here's a ghostly face from Jeffrey Disastronaut.

The flamboyant Dave Pop! took over Jo's garage with his 'bright, bold pop art, with a generous topping of seaside sauce!'

You can see Dave singing 'Am I in Love or Am I Insane?' on YouTube.

Jim Sanders made a sculpture out of his saw.  Read about Jim's amazing Brighton studio/home here.

Here's Jim with another sculpture he made for the show.

There are more sculptures at the bottom of the garden by Rafael Berrio

On the grass in front of Rafael's sculpture there's a pig made by Danny Manning, textile artist and willow weaver.

Continuing the animal theme, there's a vitrine with a ceramic Sumatran orangutan by Jack Durling. He says of this piece, 'Where there is weakness there is also strength'.

Climbing up a fence is a longhorn beetle made by another willow weaver, Dominic Parrette.

Christine Scawin has installed these sculptures made of recycled copper on the grass.

There are female figures by Claudia Castelton-Brown. I can imagine these on Lisa's Desert Oracle saw.

These stone sculptures are by Jacob Frerichs.

A fence has banners made by Julie-ann Smith.

Apart from the saws and sculpture, there are ceramics from Chris Turrell and Simon Dredge.

Karen Hirst has decorated the mulberry tree.

Hélène McCarthy, 'mudlarker, scavenger, bricoleur' has work in the garden, in the 'art hutch', and a vitrine.

There's also an artshed with a display of cyanotypes by Tara Gould.

And there's a geodesic dome! Here are Jo and Jeremy performing the topping out ceremony.

Here's one of Jo's ceramic sculptures.

Her tiki mugs are unbelievably good value, and you can drink beer out of them as well as cocktails.

The exhibition's been getting lots of visitors. Here's Foz Foster who, apart from playing lead guitar in David Devant and His Spirit Wife, the best band in the multiverse, is musical director of a Sawchestra. Foz brought a musical saw along and played a recital in the garden.