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McHugh, Roland / The sigla of Finnegans wake
(1976)

Chapter 3: roles of [carat] in book III,   pp. 39-48 PDF (637.3 KB)


Page 40

40 The Sigla of Finnegans Wake 
we must expect the reverse. A is generally praised and flattered, as he was
by Mercius in 1.7. But X become less merciful as they proceed and by 111.3
are losing their patience and suspecting their subject of imposture: 'Hood
maketh not frere. The voice is the voice of jokeup, I fear' (487.2 1Ä2).
The representation of': as Esau deprived by Jacob's stratagem is prominent
throughout FW. 
 As in book I, X are in quest of m. As they contact him before 111.4 it is
strange that this episode should remain as a watch of A. A has been displaced
as an intermediary no longer of significance and occupies the minor role
of the child Kevin asleep upstairs. His brother Jerry (':) is asleep in the
same bed. Could Jerry be the ass, questioning a memory of his brother and
temporarily wakened by m at ~ 17Ä30? Samuel Beckett refers enigmatically
to 'the Pour speaking through the child's brain'.4 If this demonstrates a
continuity of narration, a continuity of subject is demonstrated by Mr. Hart's
discovery that A grows younger from 403 to the end of FW: 
 In 111.1 his twin brother Shem is old enough to be 'CelebrAted' (421.21);
in 111.2 Shaun has become the young lover, Jaun; in 111.3 he is liked to
'some chubby boybold love of an angel' (474.15); during 111.4 he appears
most of the time as an infant in the nursery. It does not seem to have been
noticed that at the end of 111.4 we have worked, 'through the grand tryomphal
arch', right back to the birth, which is described with many details at 589Ä9o.
We are, in fact, 'eskipping the clockback' (579.05). At 472.16 the Ass alludes
directly to Shaun's journey backward to annihilation: 'we follow receding
on your photophoric pilgrimage to your antipodes in the past'. Immediately
after his reappearance for a moment in Book IV as the newborn baby, he retires
via the vagina ... into the wombÄ'the ventrifugal principality' (6o~.
17)Äsurrounds himself with amniotic fluid in ever-decreasing volumes
and crouches like a foetus until, a diminishing embryo, he disappears5 
 Joyce's frequently quoted letter of 24 May 1924 to Miss Weaver further illuminates
time reversal in book III: 
4Our Exagmination round his Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress
(second edition, London, Faber and Faber 1961), 21. 
5SMFW, 68. 


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