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Hart, Clive / Structure and motif in Finnegans wake
(1962)

Chapter eight: two major motifs,   pp. 182-208 PDF (1.8 MB)


Page 188

 i88Two Major Motifs 
two historians are ' Dons ,7ohns'—two gallants—while the three
flowers are ' Totty Askins', that is, they are both juvenile (' totty') seducers
who ask for the attention of the males whom they always rebufl, and also
three enemy (English) soldiers. This succinct identification of the girls
and the soldiers is further emphasised in the right-hand note, ' BELLETRISTICS',
which seems to be Joyce's coinage for Amazons with a literary bias. 
 Isobel writes two footnotes to Quinet, in the second of which she suggests
that the flatus of his very spiritual style be transmuted into the rather
more solid matter to be found on Anna Livia's cloacal scrap of tissue': 
' Translout that gaswind into turfish, Teague, that's a good bog and you,
Thady, poliss it off, there's a nateswipe, on your blottom pulper'. 
Joyce takes Isobel's advice and parodies the sentence in five places in Finnegans
Wake, thus ' translouting' it into his Irish ' turfish' and thoroughly assimilating
it into the book. (I have used the word ' parody' here for want of a better.
Joyce is not really parodying Quinet at any point, but refashioning his sentence
word by word to suit new contexts—an altogether different art for which
no adequate term seems to exist. The five ' parodies' are more like free
translations into various dialects of ' Djoytsch'.) Stylistically, Quinet's
sentence is direct, lyrical, and simple—in short, all that Finnegans
Wake is not. By the time Joyce was composing his last book he was long past
the stage when he could comfortably write such simple stuff as this, however
much he may have admired it. The result is that all his reworkings inevitably
annihilate Quinet's rather too selfconscious grace and delicacy. As I shall
show below, Joyce has in every case considerably elaborated and extended
the original material, but it is interesting to see how the necessity to
compose within a more or less predetermined form has very largely curbed
his habit of expansion and interpolation. The first three parodies (those
on pages i 4—15, I 17, and 236) were incorporated relatively early
in their respective chapters and although in 
1 Cf. the Russian General's cleaning himself with a sod of Irish turf 
(353.15). 


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