Friday, 22 September 2017

Looking for Joyce and Blake in Bognor Regis: Joyce's Guesthouse

Inspiring things are happening in Bognor Regis and neighbouring Felpham, thanks to the Big Blake Project. Following a crowd funding campaign, the Blake Society has bought the poet's cottage in Felpham. The plan is to turn this cottage, where he wrote 'And did those feet' into a centre of imagination. They've also created a Big Blake Blake trail, which you can read about here, and a gorgeous virtual tour of the cottage and garden, populated by the visionary beings that Blake saw here. They say that they 'aspire to nothing less than a Blakean Renaissance, Beulah.'

It sounds like they are rebuilding Jerusalem, or Golgonooza, Blake's Eternal City of Art (inspired by a walk the poet took to Chichester). More power to their elbows!

Last weekend was Blakefest, a two day celebration of visionary art, with poetry readings, musical performances, exhibitions, and Blakean inspired face painting for children. On Saturday, there was a walk by the Irish poet Niall McDevitt called 'Bugger Bognor, my Republican Irish arse!' He described this as 'a Bognor to Felpham walk encountering the great Blakeans James Joyce and Dante Gabriel Rossetti until we meet the main man himself'.

I'd love to have gone to that, but I couldn't get to Bognor until the Sunday. I went down with Lisa and our friend Alan Fred Pipes, and we did our own Blakean trail.

We started at the former guesthouse in Clarence Road, where Joyce stayed in the summer of 1923, which I last saw in 2002. It was bright yellow then. To find out more about Joyce's time here, see my previous post (It was while staying here that he came across the name Earwicker).

In My Brother's Keeper, Stanislaus Joyce (who hated Blake) tells us that, in his youth, his brother's 'gods were Blake and Dante'. Here's an exchange they had in 1903, when, following their mother's death, James Joyce began 'to drink riotously':

I hated to see him glossy-eyed and slobbery–mouthed, and I usually told him so heatedly, either on the spot or the morning after.
–It makes me sick, said I, just to look at you....
–The road of excess, quoted my brother again, leads to the palace of wisdom.
–Why the hell do you quote that bloody lunatic to me? I retorted angrily alluding to Blake. In any case I know the name of the palace. It's called Bedlam.

That's one of Blake's Proverbs of Hell, which Joyce liked quoting. He was still quoting Blake's proverbs in 1938 when, close to finishing the Wake, he told Jaques Mercanton, 'The only thing that gives me the courage to finish is Blake's proverb: If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.'

That reminds me of a nice couplet by Anthony Burgess:

Poems are made by fools like Blake
But only Joyce can make a Wake.


Joyce identified with Blake as a fellow rebel against the Church, State and the nets of religion and nationality.

When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.   

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Blake had used this image in the Book of Urizen. Urizen is Blake's tyrant-god-king-priest figure, who weaves the nets that trap society. 

A Web dark & cold, throughout all
The tormented element stretch'd
From the sorrows of Urizens soul...
None could break the Web, no wings of fire.
So twisted the cords, & so knotted
The meshes: twisted like to the human brain.
And all call'd it, The Net of Religion.

The Book of Urizen.    

Here's Urizen with his net.

The nets are enforced by the Church and State - the priest and king.  Stanislaus Joyce tells us that his brother liked to quote these lines of Blake from 'Merlin's Prophecy':

The king and the priest must be tied in a tether,
Before two virgins can meet together.

In Ulysses, Stephen taps his brow and says, 'But in here it is I must kill the priest and king.'
Fred and Lisa



A 1912 lecture Joyce gave on Blake in Trieste shows another way in which he identified with him:

Like many other men of great genius, Blake was not attracted to cultured and refined women. Either he preferred to drawing-room graces and an easy and broad culture...the simple woman, of hazy and sensual mentality, or, in his unlimited egoism, he wanted the soul of his beloved to be entirely a slow and painful creation of his own, freeing and purifying daily under his very eyes, the demon (as he says) hidden in the cloud.  

Joyce, who saw himself as a man of great genius, is writing about his own unlimited egoism here. 'The simple woman, of hazy and sensual mentality' is how he saw Nora Barnacle. 

The irony is that Nora had such a strong personality that there was no way that Joyce could mould her. According to Ellmann, the only occasion when she spoke of his writing with any approval was in Bognor when, on returning a pair of split shoes, she told the shopkeeper,  'My husband is a writer and if you don't change them I'll have it published in the paper.'

Here's how Joyce imagine Blake in the act of creation, supported by a loving wife:

Los and Enitharmon
Elemental beings and spirits of dead great men often came to the poet’s room at night to speak with him about art and the imagination. Then Blake would leap out of bed, and, seizing his pencil, remain long hours in the cold London night drawing the limbs and lineaments of the visions, while his wife, curled up beside his easy chair, held his hand lovingly and kept quiet so as not to disturb the visionary ecstasy of the seer. When the vision had gone, about daybreak his wife would get back into bed, and Blake, radiant with joy and benevolence, would quickly begin to light the fire and get breakfast for the both of them. We are amazed that the symbolic beings Los and Urizen and Vala and Tiriel and Enitharmon and the shades of Milton and Homer came from their ideal world to a poor London room, and no other incense greeted their coming than the smell of East Indian tea and eggs fried in lard. Isn’t this perhaps the first time in the history of the world that the Eternal spoke through the mouth of the humble?

Nora was not like this. She used to say that it was a shame that Joyce didn't stick to singing instead of writing novels. Brenda Maddox tells us that Nora's reaction to her husband's growing fame was to say, 'We should put him in a cage and feed him peanuts through the bars.'


In a 1902 paper on James Clarence Mangan, Joyce described poetry in Blakean language:

Poetry...makes no account of history, which is fabled by the daughters of memory, but sets store by every time less than the pulsation of an artery, the time in which intuitions start forth, holding it equal in its period and value to six thousand years.

He's quoting A Vision of the Last Judgement, where Blake contrasts fable or allegory with vision or imagination:

Fable or Allegory are a totally distinct & inferior kind of Poetry. Vision, or Imagination, is a Representation of what Eternally Exists, Really & Unchangeably. Fable or Allegory is Formd by the daughters of Memory. Imagination is Surrounded by the daughters of Inspiration.

Joyce is also using Blake's description of time, in Milton:
Every Time less than a pulsation of the artery
Is equal in its period and value to Six Thousand Years; 
For in this Period the Poet’s Work is done; and all the great
Events of Time start forth and are conceiv’d in such a Period,
Within a Moment, a Pulsation of the Artery.

By 1912, when he wrote his lecture on Blake, Joyce had turned away from idealism. He wrote, 'by minimizing space and time and denying the existence of memory and the senses, (Blake) tried to paint his work on the void of the divine bosom.'

In Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus, teaching a Roman history lesson, thinks about history:

Fabled by the daughters of memory. And yet it was in some way if not as memory fabled it. A phrase, then, of impatience, thud of Blake's wings of excess. I hear the ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry, and time one livid final flame. 

The events of the past must have happened in some way in the real world, even if history/memory misreports them. Robert F Gleckner has a great reading of 'thud of Blake's wings of excess':

Blake flew too often and too far into the beyond, and that excess led not to wisdom but to a thud against the unyielding hardness of reality.

'Joyce's Blake: Paths of Influence' in Blake and the Moderns (ed Bertholf and Levitt) p 147


This is how Blake describes space, in Milton:

For every space larger than a red globule of Man's blood
Is visionary, and is created by the Hammer of Los;
And every space smaller than a globule of Man's blood opens
Into Eternity of which this vegetable Earth is but a shadow.

Here's Blake's Los, with his blacksmith's hammer, from the Book of Urizen. He's the embodiment of the creative poetic imagination. Joyce might have been thinking of him when he wrote in A Portrait, of Stephen's desire 'to forge in the smithy of (his) soul the uncreated conscience of (his) race.'

Stephen thinks of the Milton passage in the Library episode, where he sets Blake's idealism against the real physical world. 

Space, what you damn well have to see. Through spaces smaller than red globules of man's blood they creepycrawl after Blake's buttocks into eternity of which this vegetable world is but a shadow. Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges into the past.

The creepycrawlers are the Dublin theosophists, like AE, who follow Blake into the void of idealism. In Ulysses, Joyce holds 'to the now the here' Dublin on a single June day in 1904.

From Joyce's guesthouse, we walked down to the seafront, where we found Blake's favourite word, Vision, displayed on the top of the pier.

In front of the Carlton Hotel, we spotted Lucia Joyce dancing along the balcony.  

A friendly wave from a seafront mystic...

Then we caught the Whaleway train to Bognor's Butlin's Holiday Camp, on our way to Blake's cottage in Felpham....


Tuesday, 5 September 2017

'Mr Joyce has a Cloacal Obsession'.

Mr. Joyce has a cloacal obsession. He would bring back into the general picture of life aspects which modern drainage and modern decorum have taken out of ordinary intercourse and conversation.  

H.G.Wells, review of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, The New Republic, 10 March 1917 

'Cloacal obsession!' said Joyce. 'Why it's Wells's countrymen who build water-closets wherever they go.'

Frank Budgen, James Joyce and the Making of Uysses, 1934

'Cloacal' comes from the Latin cloaca (sewer).  

H.G.Wells had a point though. Joyce did describe himself as the sewer of Literary Dublin in his 1904 poem, 'The Holy Office':

But all these men of whom I speak
Make me the sewer of their clique.
That they may dream their dreamy dreams
I carry off their filthy streams....
Thus I relieve their timid arses,
Perform my office of Katharsis.

(Katharsis is a Greek word for a purge, accelerating defecation)

He also named his first volume of poetry, Chamber Music, after the tinkling sound of urine in a chamber pot ('Chamber music. Could make a pun on that', thinks Bloom).

It's hard now to think of A Portrait as very cloacal, but there's a bedwetting scene on the opening page ('When you wet the bed first it is warm then it gets cold'). It seems so innocent now, but it was daringly new in 1916.

Wells would also have been thinking of scenes like this:

...he found in himself no instinctive repugnance to bad odours whether they were the odours of the outdoor world, such as those of dung or tar, or the odours of his own person among which he had made many curious comparisons and experiments. He found in the end that the only odour against which his sense of smell revolted was a certain stale fishy stink like that of long-standing urine

Wells wrote about this cloacal obession a year before Joyce came up with the most famous bowel movement in literature – Leopold Bloom's in Ulysses:

...he allowed his bowels to ease themselves quietly as he read, reading still patiently, that slight constipation of yesterday quite gone. Hope it's not too big to bring on piles again. No, just right. So. Ah....He read on, seating calm above his own rising smell.

I think Joyce was the first writer to allow a character to defecate since Swift in Gulliver's Travels in the 1720s.

There's a memorable bowel movement in Finnegans Wake too. It takes place on page 185 in chapter 7, the attack on Shem the Penman (James Joyce) by his respectable and prudish brother, Shaun the Post. 

The story begins with the 1912 destruction of Dubliners, by Joyce's publisher, George Roberts, of Maunsel and Company, and his printer, John Falconer. 

'when Robber and Mumsell, the pulpic dictators, on the nudgment of their legal advisers, Messrs Codex and Podex, and under his own benefiction of their pastor Father Flammeus Falconer, boycotted him of all muttonsuet candles and romeruled stationery for any purpose, he winged away on a wildgoup’s chase across the kathartic ocean and made synthetic ink and sensitive paper for his own end out of his wit’s waste'

Deprived of any outlet for his writing, Shem makes ink out of his own dung and urine, and uses it to write his masterpieces 'over every square inch of the only foolscap available, his own body'.

To spare the reader's blushes, Shaun tells us that he'll be explaining how Shem made this ink in Latin. The story will be 'cloaked up' (a play on cloaca):

Let manner and matter of this for these our sporting times be cloaked up in the language of blushfed porporates that an Anglican ordinal, not reading his own rude dunsky tunga, may ever behold the brand of scarlet on the brow of her of Babylon and feel not the pink one in his own damned cheek. 

Joyce is hitting back here at The Sporting Times, subtitled 'The Pink 'Un', which published a hilarious attack on Ulysses in 1922 (on April Fools Day).  The snooty reviewer, 'Aramis', said that the book 'appears to have been written by a perverted lunatic who has made a speciality of the literature of the latrine....The main contents of the book are enough to make a Hottentot sick'.

The pink colour of the cover suggested to Joyce that the paper itself was blushing. Here's a photo of the blushing paper from the 2004 Ulysses centenary exhibition at the University of Buffalo.

This kind of headline was good for publicity, and Sylvia Beach displayed the poster on the wall of Shakespeare and Sons.

Here's Shem's bowel movement, on page 185 of the Wake:

Primum opifex, altus prosator, ad terram viviparam et cuncti-potentem sine ullo pudore nec venia, suscepto pluviali atque discinctis perizomatis, natibus nudis uti nati fuissent, sese adpropinquans, flens et gemens, in manum suam evacuavit (highly prosy, crap in his hand, sorry!), postea, animale nigro exoneratus, classicum pulsans, stercus proprium, quod appellavit deiectiones suas, in vas olim honorabile tristitiae posuit, eodem sub invocatione fratrorum gemino-rum Medardi et Godardi laete ac melliflue minxit, psalmum qui incipit: Lingua mea calamus scribae velociter scribentis: magna voce cantitans (did a piss, says he was dejected, asks to be exonerated), demum ex stercore turpi cum divi Orionis iucunditate mixto, cocto, frigorique exposito, encaustum sibi fecit indelibile (faked O’Ryan’s, the indelible ink). 

Here's a translaton (combined from those given in Roland McHugh's Annotations, by Robert S Boyle in The James Joyce Quarterly, and on reddit by an anonymous Latin scholar):

First, the artist, the high first-sower, pulled himself towards the life-giving and all-powerful earth without any shame or pardon, and pulling up his raincoat and unbuttoning his trousers, his buttocks naked as they were born, crying and moaning, evacuated his bowels into his own hand, then, relieved of the black animal, he sounded the trumpet and placed his own dung, which he called "his dejections," into an urn once used as an honoured mark of sadness, and under the invocation of the twin brothers Medard and Godard pissed cheerfully and mellifluously therein, whilst singing with a great voice the psalm which begin, "My tongue is the pen of a scribe writing swiftly." Finally, from that foul dung mixed with the cheerfulness of the divine Orion, baked and then exposed to the cold, he made for himself an indelible ink.

First the artist, the high first sower

'Altus Prosator' is the opening line of a 7th century Hiberno-Latin poem attributed to Saint Columba. It means 'high first-sower', and is an invented title for God. But prosator can also mean prose writer, so McHugh translates it as 'the eminent writer'.  Shaun in his parenthesis translates it as 'highly prosy'. Robert S Boyle translates the phrase as 'the old Father', which brings in a nice echo of the final lines of A Portrait, which Stephen addresses to his namesake, Daedalus:

'Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead.'

The twin brothers Medard and Godard were French saints. According to Roman Catholic Martyrology, they were born on the same day, made bishops on the same day, and they died on the same day. Medard was a saint responsible for weather and rain (and so invoked to help Shem piss?)

pulling up his raincoat

The Latin 'pluviale' was originally a gown worn as a rain covering. Later it was applied to an ecclesiastical chasuble, worn by a priest when celebrating Mass.

foul dung mixed with the cheerfulness of the divine Orion

Orion = Shem's urine. Orion was born after Zeus, Poseidon and Hermes urinated on a bull-hide and buried it in the earth to give King Hyrieus a son. Orion's name may be from ourios (urine). 'Orina' is also Latin for urine.
Shem's dung, which he creates while crying and moaning, represents his dejections/ suffering. His urine (the divine Orion) stands for his joys in creation. The artist needs both to create perhaps.
While pissing he joyfully sings the opening of Psalm 45, "My tongue is the pen of a scribe writing swiftly."



Joyce often described his role as an artist as someone who transmutes matter. From his Catholic background, he took the priest at Mass as his model. In A Portrait, Stephen Dedalus describes himself as 'a priest of the eternal imagination transmuting the daily bread of experience into the radiant body of everliving life.'

In Finnegans Wake, Joyce uses the alchemist as well as the priest as the transmuter. The Latin description of mixing dung and urine in an urn, and baking and cooling it, is alchemical. Alchemists believed that the basic ingredient for creating the Philosopher's Stone could be dung. Read Agnieszka Rec's excellent blog post, 'Dung? Alchemy is full of it':

'The philosopher Morienus described the starting material of the Philosophers’ Stone as “of cheap price and found everywhere” and “trodden underfoot.”  Medieval alchemists took that description literally and used the manure found all over their streets.'
In the wonderful passage that follows the Latin, Shem, described as 'the first till last alshemist', produces the ink like a squid from his own unheavenly body:

'when the call comes, he shall produce nichthemerically from his unheavenly body a no uncertain quantity of obscene matter not protected by copriright in the United Stars of Ourania or bedeed and bedood and bedang and bedung to him, with this double dye, brought to blood heat, gallic acid on iron ore, through the bowels of his misery, flashly, aithly, nastily, appropriately, this Esuan Menschavik and the first till last alshemist wrote over every square inch of the only foolscap available, his own body, till by its corrosive sublimation one continuous present tense integument slowly unfolded all marryvoising moodmoulded cyclewheeling history (thereby, he said, reflecting from his own individual person life unlivable, transaccidentated through the slow fires of consciousness into a dividual chaos, perilous, potent, common to allflesh, human only, mortal) but with each word that would not pass away the squidself which he had squirtscreened from the crystalline world waned chagreenold and doriangrayer in its dudhud.'

The 'quantity of obscene matter not protected by copriright in the United Stars of Ourania' is Ulysses, which was pirated in the USA by Samuel Roth's Two Worlds Monthly
Copriright has Greek copros = dung.

The 'continuous present tense integument slowly unfolded all marryvoising moodmoulded cyclewheeling history' is Finnegans Wake.

'with each word that would not pass away the squidself which he had squirtscreened from the crystalline world waned chagreenold and doriangrayer in its dudhud.'

This is the cost to Joyce of transforming his life into art. Green and grey are the colours of Joyce's glaucoma and cataracts. His words live, but his squidself wanes, like the increasingly revolting picture of Dorian Gray.

You can have fun working out what it all means using the notes given here in fweet.


Friday, 28 July 2017

Edgar Quinet in Finnegans Wake

Quinet by Sebastien–Melchior Cornu
'Today, as in the days of Pliny and Columella, the hyacinth disports in Gaul, the periwinkle in Illyria, the daisy on the ruins of Numantia; and while around them the cities have changed masters and names, while some have ceased to exist, while the civilisations have collided with one another and shattered, their peaceful generations have passed through the ages, and have come up to us, one following the other, fresh and cheerful as on the days of the battles'

That's a sentence from the French historian Edgar Quinet (1803-75), which Joyce gives in the original French on page 281 of the Wake. It's the only undistorted quotation in the whole book. Joyce loved this sentence so much that he would recite it from memory.

'He recited a page from Quinet, which satisfied him completely, a description on which he embroidered for several pages in 'Work in Progress': the whole atmosphere of the Mediterranean is in it, he said, its ports, its flowers, the azure sky, the sun on the sea. In that passage he felt at home.'

Jacques Mercanton, 'The Hours of James Joyce', 1963 (reprinted in Portaits of the Artist in Exile p 239)

In 1953, the Irish tenor John Sullivan told Richard Ellmann that Joyce astounded him one day by reciting the sentence to him while they were walking by Montparnasse cemetery, along the Boulevard Edgar Quinet. Quinet lies buried here


Pliny the Elder

Joyce summed up the sentence in a letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver: 'E.Q. says that the wild flowers on the ruins of Carthage, Numancia etc have survived the political rises and falls of Empires' (Let I: 295). Quinet uses classical Rome as the example of empire. Pliny the Elder and Columella were the great Roman writers on nature: Pliny wrote a massive Natural History and Columella wrote books on Agriculture and Trees. Numantia was a city in Spain whose inhabitants committed suicide rather than surrender to the Romans. Illyria in the western Balkans and Gaul (France) were also conquered by Rome.

Joyce said he 'felt at home' in this sentence. He shared Quinet's detached view of history, eternally repeating the same events. Ellmann tells us that, when Samuel Beckett spoke of Nazi persecution of the Jews, Joyce pointed out that there had been similar persecutions before. In later life, says Ellmann, Beckett 'thought this ability to contemplate with telescopic eye Joyce's most impressive characteristic, and quoted four lines from Pope's 'Essay on Man' to illustrate:

Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,
A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,
Atoms of sytems into ruin hurled,
And now a bubble burst, and now a world.'  (Ellmann p.709)


Léon Metchnikoff  (1838-88)
In The Books at the Wake, J.S.Atherton identified the source of the quotation as Quinet's Introduction à La Philosophie de l'Histoire de l'Humanité. Clive Hart spotted six misquotations in Joyce's text, and suggested that this was 'almost certainly due to faulty memory'. But Inge Landuyt discovered that Joyce's source was not Quinet's original but Léon Metchnikoff's La Civilisation et les Grands Fleuves Historiques (1889). Joyce follows Metchnikoff 's misquotations of the text ('au temps de Pline' instead of 'aux jours de Pline' and 'entrées' instead of 'rentrées').

Metchnikoff was a social scientist, who wrote about the impact of the environment on history in particular the role of great rivers in shaping early civilizations. Joyce read his book in early 1924, when he was gathering research for his own river chapter, Anna Livia Plurabelle. You can read Ingeborg Landuyt and Geert Lernout's article about Joyce's uses of Metchnikoff here, in Genetic Joyce Studies. 

I've also found Metchnikoff's book online. Here's the page where Joyce found Quinet's sentence.


In 1926, two years after finding the sentence, Joyce wrote the opening chapter of the Wake, which is a panoramic view of the prehistory of Dublin.  This was the perfect place to include Quinet's sentence, and so he reshaped it and made it Irish:

'Thus, too, for donkey's years. Since the bouts of Hebear and Hairyman the cornflowers have been staying at Ballymun, the duskrose has choosed out Goatstown's hedges, twolips have pressed togatherthem by sweet Rush, townland of twinedlights,  the whitethorn and the redthorn have fairygeyed the mayvalleys of Knockmaroon, and, though for rings round them, during a chiliad of perihelygangs, the Formoreans have brittled the tooath of the Danes and the Oxman has been pestered by the Firebugs and the Joynts have thrown up jerrybuilding to the Kevanses and Little on the Green is childsfather to the City (Year! Year! And laughtears!), these paxsealing buttonholes have quadrilled across the centuries and whiff now whafft to us, fresh and made-of-all-smiles as, on the eve of Killallwho.' 14.35

Though Joyce's reworkings of Quinet are called parodies, I prefer Clive Hart's description of them as 'free translations into various dialects of 'Djoytsch''. In rewriting Quinet here, Joyce changed the setting from classical antiquity to Dublin. Rush, Knockmaroon, Goatstown, Ballymun and Little Green Market are all places in and around Dublin.

In Pliny and Columella, he saw his warring twins, Shem and Shaun. He also made Quinet's flowers female temptresses - seizing on the contrast between masculine and feminine forces in Quinet's sentence. Wars and cities, 'which change masters' are masculine. The peaceful flowers are feminine in the French ('la marguerite'). Girls are often flowers in Finnegans Wake

'And they still nowanights and by nights of yore do all all bold floras of the field to their shyfaun lovers say only: Cull me ere I wilt to thee! and, but a little later: Pluck me whilst I blush! Well may they wilt, marry, and profusedly blush, be troth.' 15.19

'the bouts of Hebear and Hairyman'

The battles of he-bear and the hairy man (Esau?) and Heber and Heremon – the Irish equivalents of Romulus and Remus. The Irish traced their race back to Milesius of Spain, whose sons, Heber and Heremon were the first kings of the Gaels, ruling jointly until Heremon killed Heber. 

'twolips have pressed togatherthem by sweet Rush'

Kisses and tulips. The village of Rush, on the coast fifteen miles north of Dublin, is famous for its tulip fields. cf 'tulipbeds of Rush below' 526.06

'during a chiliad of perihelygangs' 

A thousand years. A chiliad is a group of a thousand, and it also includes the first war epic, the Iliad.  'perihelygangs'  going (gangs) around (peri) the sun (Helios), and so years. Hely in the Wake might suggest the Irish Governor General and enemy of Parnell, Tim Healy (Ireland is called 'Healiopolis' at 24.18).  It's a phrase suggestive of war and violence (gangs).

'the Formoreans have brittled the tooath of the Danes and the Oxman has been pestered by the Firebugs'

The Formoreans and the Tuatha de Danaan were two rival supernatural Irish races.  After being defeated by the Milesians, the Tuatha de Danaan retreated underground to become the aos sí (fairies). Also the tooth of the Danes, invaders who founded Dublin. The Danes called themselves Ostmen (men from the east), which became corrupted to Oxmen. So Dublin has an Oxmantown, the area north of the Liffey where the Danes were exiled at the time of the Anglo-Norman invasion. The Firbolgs were another legendary Irish race, conquered by the Tuatha de Danaan but allowed to settle in Connacht.

'and the Joynts have thrown up jerrybuilding to the Kevanses'

The Giants have thrown up jerry buildings. All our cities are 'jerry built', because the buildings will crumble in time, or be burned down ('firebugs' are arsonists). Shem and Shaun are also often called Jerry and Kevin

'these paxsealing buttonholes have quadrilled across the centuries'

Joyce takes Quinet's 'peaceful generations have passed through the following the other, fresh and cheerful' and creates a processional dance by the flowers, worn as buttonholes. Paxsealing - sealing peace. The alternation of peace and war.  In the marginal note next to the French text on page 281, Joyce wrote, 'BELLUM-PAX-BELLUM'.

'the eve of Killallwho'

Joyce's version of Quinet's 'days of battles'. King Brian Boru, who defeated the Danes at the Battle of Clontarf had his stronghold at Killaloe. 'Kill all who' – the dead of Clontarf included included Brian Boru, his son Murchad, his grandson Toirdelbach, King Máel Mórda of Leinster and the Viking leaders Sigurd of Orkney and Brodir of Man.


Here's the first draft of the sentence, written in pencil by Joyce in late 1926, from the Garland Press James Joyce Archive.

Joyce originally wrote 'the times of Hebear and Hairyman', then 'the high old times' before deciding on 'bouts'; 'townland of twinedlights' was originally 'the place for twilights', then 'twinlights'; 'during a chiliad of perihelygangs' began as 'during a hundred thousand yeargangs'; 'valleys' became 'mayvalleys'; 'jerrybuilding' was originally 'wallmaking'; 'the eve of Kallallwho' was 'the day of combat', corrected to 'the day of Killallwhoo' (though Joyce then lost the extra o).

Here's Joyce's fair (!) copy of November 1926. The only additions here are the parenthesis '('Year. year. laughtears!)' and 'whaft' added to 'whift'.

Here's Joyce's second reworking of Quinet's sentence, from the Hen chapter, written in 1927. Here he's taken just the structure of the sentence and applied it to new subjects, the passing on of the Letter and the brewing of tea and alcohol:

Since nozzy Nanette tripped palmyways with Highho Harry there’s a spurtfire turf a’kind o’kindling when oft as the souff souff blows her peaties up and a claypot wet for thee, my Sitys, and talkatalka tell Tibbs has eve: and whathough (revilous ife proving aye the death of ronaldses when winpower wine has bucked the kick on poor won man) billiousness has been billiousness during milliums of millenions and our mixed racings have been giving two hoots or three jeers for the grape, vine and brew and Pieter’s in Nieuw Amsteldam and Paoli’s where the poules go and rum smelt his end for him and he dined off sooth american (it would give one the frier even were one a normal Kettlelicker) this oldworld epistola of their weatherings and their marryings and their buryings and their natural selections has combled tumbled down to us fersch and made-at-all-hours like an ould cup on tay. 


For his third version, in the Games chapter, written in 1930, Joyce brought in Romulus and Remus and developed the dancing flower theme:

Since the days of Roamaloose and Rehmoose the pavanos have been strident through their struts of Chapelldiseut, the vaulsies have meed and youdled through the purly ooze of Ballybough, many a mismy cloudy has tripped taintily along that hercourt strayed reelway and the rigadoons have held ragtimed revels on the platauplain of Grangegorman; and, though since then sterlings and guineas have been replaced by brooks and lions and some progress has been made on stilts and the races have come and gone and Thyme, that chef of seasoners, has made his usual astewte use of endadjustables and whatnot willbe isnor was, those danceadeils and cancanzanies have come stimmering down for our begayment through the bedeafdom of po's taeorns, the obcecity of pa's teapucs, as lithe and limbfree limber as when momie mummed at ma. 


The fourth use of Quinet, furthest from the original, comes at the end of the Joyce's war story of Buckley and the Russian general. 

'When old the wormd was a gadden and Anthea first unfoiled her limbs wanderloot was the way the wood wagged where opter and apter were samuraised twimbs. They had their mutthering ivies and their murdhering idies and their mouldhering iries in that muskat grove but there’ll be bright plinnyflowers in Calomella’s cool bowers when the magpyre’s babble towers scorching and screeching from the ravenindove.'


The final use of Quinet was one of the last pieces of Finnegans Wake to be composed, in 1938. Joyce wrote it when he was tying together the opening and closing chapters. It has a place of honour, introducing Anna Livia Plurabelle's letter, delivered at last, and her final monologue. The passage is a sort of summary of the book. It's very dense but look out for the days of Pliny and Columella, and the flowers la jacinthe, la pervenche and la marguerite:

'Our wholemole millwheeling vicociclometer, a tetradomational gazebocroticon (the “Mamma Lujah” known to every schoolboy scandaller, be he Matty, Marky, Lukey or John-a- Donk), autokinatonetically preprovided with a clappercoupling smeltingworks exprogressive process, (for the farmer, his son and their homely codes, known as eggburst, eggblend, eggburial and hatch-as-hatch can) receives through a portal vein the dialytically separated elements of precedent decomposition for the verypetpurpose of subsequent recombination so that the heroticisms, catastrophes and eccentricities transmitted by the ancient legacy of the past, type by tope, letter from litter, word at ward, with sendence of sundance,since the days of Plooney and Columcellas when Giacinta, Pervenche and Margaret swayed over the all-too-ghoulish and illyrical and innumantic in our mutter nation all, anastomosically assimilated and preteridentified paraidiotically, in fact, the sameold gamebold adomic structure of our Finnius the old One, as highly charged with electrons as hophazards can effective it, may be there for you, Cockalooralooraloomenos, when cup, platter and pot come piping hot, as sure as herself pits hen to paper and there's scribings scrawled on eggs.'  61427-615.10

The best thing written about Joyce's uses of Quinet is Clive Hart's article in Structure and Motif in Finnegans Wake, which you can read online here. Here he reveals that 'Mr Frank Budgen insists that Joyce detested flowers'!

I've always loved Joyce's first reworking of Qunet in the opening chapter. When Derek Pyle of Waywords and Meansigns asked me to read a passage, this was the bit I chose. You can hear me stumbling over the words here.

From Mary Ellen Bute's film of the Wake