Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Finnegans Wake, Part III, fourth division

"What was thaas? Fog was whaas? Too mult sleepth. Let sleepth."

The beginnings of many of these latter sections suggest, almost clearly, that the night is passing.  The previous division suggested dawn and waking, but didn't quite make it, and this one begins putting us back firmly in the sonambulant state.  We drowse still.

And yet.  And yet.  I have to admit, as I approach the end, I give in to the temptation to hurry up and finish.  This is not good.  This is a book that requires patience.  And when you get impatient, Finnegans Wake can get tedious.  Sense only surfaces slowly.

Soon after the beginning we are presented with a "dumbshow," a sort of pantomime, with HCE and ALP and the children sporting what some think their "real" names, Bartholomew and Mrs. Porter.  There may be a parallel with a chess game, as, throughout the division, each of our "four" notes a position:  Matt a "first position of harmony," Mark, a "second position of discordance," Luke (implied), a "third position of concord," and at the end, John, with a "fourth position of solution." 

The performance eventually makes its way into an indictment of "Honuphrius," presumably Porter/Humphrey/HCE, for infidelity, unnatural coitus, blasphemy and sacrilege.  This unaccountably transforms, in a sentence or two, into the details of a ridiculously detailed commercial legal claim.  The four watchers then seem to withdraw: 

"— He sighed in sleep.
"— Let us go back.
"— Lest he forewaken.
"— Hide ourselves.
"While hovering dreamwings, folding around, will hide from fears my wee mee mannikin, keep my big wig long strong mano-men, guard my bairn, mon beau.
"— To bed."

The narrative then goes elsewhere, for page after page, and ends with "John's" fourth tableau, the end of part III of the Wake, and a real promise of the morning:

"Fourth position of solution. How johnny! Finest view from horizon. Tableau final. Two me see. Male and female unmask we hem. Begum by gunne! Who now broothes oldbrawn. Dawn! The nape of his name-shielder’s scalp. Halp! After having drummed all he dun. Hun! Worked out to an inch of his core. More! Ring down. While the queenbee he staggerhorned blesses her bliss for to feel her funnyman’s functions Tag. Rumbling.
"Tiers, tiers and tiers. Rounds."

Again I have missed much, skipped lots.  Anyone can return, when you or I wish.  The night recedes.  I think I'm absorbing more, but it seems so much less necessary or useful to articulate the connections, to point out this or that reference or tie when the whole cacaphony is winding up.  There is a weariness, or a surrender, as the end looms.  But maybe it's just from starting to rush.

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