Hart, Clive / Structure and motif in Finnegans wake
Chapter eight: two major motifs, pp. 182-208
CHAPTER EIGHT 182 TWO MAJOR MOTIFS In this chapter I conclude my study of Finnegans Wake with a discussion of some aspects of two important motifs. The first, based on the quotation from Edgar Quinet in 11.2, is a single modulating sentence of quite remarkable architectural beauty which is fully stated on six occasions and is always very clearly delineated. The second, the ' Letter', is, by contrast, a sprawling and somewhat formless motif-complex which, although it is only once quoted complete (615—19), recurs in literally hundreds of places in more or less fragmentary form, making its presence felt in the most widely divergent ~ I shall trace the Quinet motif through all its major occurrences in Finnegans Wake, but in the case of the more diffuse Letter I must content myself with a general survey of its symbolism and a brief discussion of one hitherto undiscovered source. I: QUINET The more repetition a book contains, the less easy it must obviously be for the writer to create motifs whose recurrence will arrest the attention of the reader. In writing a book so consistently repetitive as Finnegans Wake Joyce set himself the considerable technical problem of creating, for major architectonic or thematic purposes, a few outstanding motifs which would not be entirely swamped by the general flow of mutating material. His simplest solution to this difficulty was to turn aside from his normal custom of building up motifs from insignificant little phrases and to construct, or borrow, a number 1 See Appendix A.
Copyright © 1962 by Clive Hart.| For information on re-use see: http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright