Episode I.1

A short paraphrase and guide to the episode

Prepared by Danis Rose

2010 edition FW pages 3-23
1939 edition FW pages 3-29

While it is the opening chapter in the finished book, I.1 was not the first written. Joyce composed it in late 1926, three years after he had drafted the first sketches (Finn's Hotel) and when the typescripts of Books I and III, II.4 and II.2§8 (‘The Triangle’) were just about “ready” for first publication. It comprises several distinct parts, here listed in the same way that the manuscripts of their early drafts were arranged in the James Joyce Archive (New York and London: Garland, 1977-78):

I.1§1A: The Fall, 3.01–8.39 (2010); (3.01–10.23) (1939)
I.1§1B: The Hen, 8.40–11.16 (2010); (10.24–13.28) (1939)
I.1§1C: History, 11.17–12.07 (2010); (13.29–14.27)(1939)
I.1§1D: Quinet, 12.08–12.37 (2010); (14.28–15.28) (1939)
I.1§1E: Mutt and Jute, 12.38–14.37 (2010); (15.29–18.16) (1939)
I.1§2A: The Allaphbed, 14.38–16.39 (2010); (18.17–21.04) (1939)
I.1§2B: Jarl Van Hooter and the Prankquean, Finnegan Tries to Rise, and The Arrival of HCE, 16.40–23 (2010); (21.05–29) (1939)

I.1 serves as an overture to Finnegans Wake. All the main characters of the book had already been introduced and described before Joyce wrote it. The hero, HCE (whose symbol is H) features here under a bewildering multiplicity of guises: as unconscious dreamer; as Osiris; as ur-builder and mason, as fallen man in various protean and archetypal forms (a corpse at a wake; a mummy; Tim Finnegan the builder; Humpty Dumpty the cracked egg; Noah the ark builder; Adam the gardener), some not even human (a gaffed salmon; a giant interred in the Dublin landscape, a clay-covered substratum for citizens to walk upon); and as various different historical personages (the Duke of Wellington, the Earl (‘Jarl’) of Howth, among others). At the chapter's end, we revert to him as corpse, the temporarily dead Tim Finnegan. We are shown the suppression, by the four annalists, of his unwanted and decidedly unhelpful resurrection. Lastly, we witness his self-supersession as his leading identity shifts from that of the Irish whiskey-drinking builder Timothy Finnegan into that of a new-comer from abroad, part Viking, part Englishman, Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker. This, of course, is all retrospective. Earwicker began life earlier, in Chapter I.2 (which comes later in the book) as a nameless turnpike-keeper dubbed Earwicker or Earwigger by the king, who had been equally temporarily halted on the high road outside his garden.

I.1§1A: The Fall: 3.01–8.39 (2010); (3.01–10.23) (1939)

Before we knuckle down to the start of our story — a story told and retold ‘early in bed and later on life down through all Christian minstrelsy’ — when there was heard on the earth only the croaking of primitive frogs, and when we consider the infamous fall that began it all, we notice that the book's beginning is elegantly concatenated with its end. There is in truth no particular beginning and no particular end in Finnegans Wake or, perhaps, there are multiple beginnings and multiple ends.

The opening half-sentence continues and concludes the incomplete closing one, which is a long way off on page 493 (628). Putting them together, 493 to 3 (628 to 3), we get: ‘A way a lone a lost a last a loved a long the … riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay,’ bringing us ‘by a commodious vicus of recirculation’ back to Howth Castle & Environs, where it all began, the same again only different (we are a little drunker). This recursus is the recirculation of a river into sea into vapour into cloud into rain and back again into river. It also connotes the Roman, and later the medieval, ceremony of (re)circulatio, the re-dedication of a town (here the city of Dublin) and its re-founding under new or renewed principles and gods.

From the opening words it is clear that we are back in early days indeed. Not yet has anything happened. Not yet has Sir Tristan arrived from Brittany to land on Howth's craggy isthmus and go on to seduce Isolde. Not yet have rocks piled up by the banks of the river Oconee ‘exaggerated’ themselves into a duplicate Dublin in Georgia, U.S.A., whose motto is ‘doubling all the time.’ Not yet has windy Saint Patrick baptised the Irish pagans. Not yet has the young ram Parnell ousted bland old Isaac Butt. Not yet have the two Vanessas (Esther Vanhomrigh and Esther Johnson) become wrathful with one Jonathan (Swift). No alcohol — not a peck of malt — has yet been brewed in Noah's ark and no bloody end to the rainbow had yet been seen over the waters of the universal Flood.

As we Christians learned when we attended school, the first thing that happened to convert us into true sin-laden mortals and initiated the endless, sometimes dreary succession of post-lapsarian human lives was the Fall. But as this is Finnegans Wake and not the Bible or Milton's Paradise Lost, the fall we here read about is the all-too-Irish fall of Tim Finnegan, though, of course, all the other falls are mixed up in it. What fell in the first place was the wall that Tim was in the course of erecting. It fell with a horrible roll and a terrible rumble:


The rumble of Tim's tumble was the first time the thunder spoke, and the fall of the wall entailed the fall off the wall of Finnegan, Erse solid man.2

Other things came to an end when the thunder rumbled. An era of warfare ended. Silenced was the din of battles of ‘wills gen wonts,’ of ‘oystrygods gaggin fishygods,’ of savage wars loud with the crying and screaming of men, hoarse and brutal as the croaking of frogs, brékkek kékkek kékkek kékkek! kóax kóax kóax! No more (for a while at least) was anyone to hear the clash of lance on lance, the deafening explosion of fire-grenades, the unleashing of whistling missiles by catapults, or the dreadful growling of siege engines. Gales and storms had ended. God's blood! What confusion had reigned! Pâr ma fait! What castles were stormed and evacuated! With an appalling peal! What chance-medleys! But all of this rough-and-tumble business was bound to end; and end it did, with the thunder that left our reckless hero, the father of all fornicators, sprawled on his broad backside in the dust and rubble of his wall and the emergence in the sky. long overdue, of a fine-spun sign, the hopeful rainbow. Fallen as he was, rise he must; otherwise — felix culpa! — there would be no tale to tell.3

But that tale is not yet. What we are now dealing with is this Mister Finnegan chap and the matter of his wall. Tim Finnegan of the ballad is Joyce's model for H (HCE) as ladder-fallen mason, and many lines from the song are quoted (in distortion), such as: With a love of the liquor Tim was born; Arrah! Tim avourneen, an' why did ye die?; and both Lots of fun at Finnegan's Wake and Your soul to the Devil in various places. The latter fine exclamation is repeated even in Latin at 59.19 (74.08).4 The opening verse

One morning Tim was rather full,
His head felt heavy, which made him shake;
He fell from his ladder and broke his skull,
So they carried him home his corpse to wake.
They rolled him up in a nice clean sheet,
And laid him out upon the bed,
With fourteen candles at his feet,
And a couple of dozen round his head!

is misquoted, almost in its entirety, at 5.22 (6.07).

Before his fall, he was a grand sort of a fellow, an Irish gentleman (mighty odd!): ‘Bygmester Finnegan, of the Stuttering Hand, freemen's maurer, lived in the broadest way immarginable in his rushlit toofarback for messuages.’5 Long before anybody had a handy Bible to recite, and for a mighty long time after, this man of God raised building after building on the banks of the Liffey and was happy and content with his hod, cement, and edifices.6 He had a little wife and he hugged the little creature. But like everybody else's, Finnegan's head got too big for his shoulders. He never learned when to stop. With a mitre for a cap and a goodly trowel in his grasp, wrapped in the overalls that he habitually fancied, like some potentate of the East, he would calculate by multiplication the altitude of his brick walls until at the end of his mud-application he saw his round tower of undressed masonry rise gigantic, a veritable Woolworth's of a skyscraper, to a most awful height entirely, an eyeful originating from next to nothing ‘celescalating the himals and all,’ his ‘hierarchitectitiptitoploftical’ masterpiece with a bush stuck up on the top of it7 and with men with tools hurrying up it and men with buckets scurrying down.8

Not only was Finnegan as proud as a peacock of his sky-topping tower, he was among the first to bear arms and a name: ‘Wassaily Booslaeugh of Riesengeborg.’ His crest of heraldry depicted a horrid horned he-goat. Pride, as we all know, comes before a fall; and fall he did. He was one thing in the morning, to be sure, but he was quite another thing by nightfall.

What accident, we may well ask, on that tragic thundery Thursday, precipitated the ‘municipal sin business’ that brought about his fall? Some say the flaw was in the bricks themselves. Others hold that it was the scaffolding that collapsed. There are a thousand and one versions, all told, of the tale. But one thing is certain. One morning, driven to half-distraction by all the shouting and bawling in the street below9 and half-suffocated by the toxic emissions issuing from the city's innumerable chimneys, Finnegan fell from his ladder and escalated rapidly downwards. Damb! He was dud! He tottered, he swayed, he tumbled down. He was dead, for all the world to see!10

He was waked after that. All the hooligans of the nation came and all joined in the fun, shoving and shouting with the utmost joviality. Nowhere in the world would you ever hear such a din again! They cried with sighs and sobs and they sang his praises and they laid him down broad on his long last bed11 with a bucket of whiskey at his feet and a barrel of Guinness at his head.12

At this point, the narrator urges us to seize the opportunity (Finnegan being so on the flat of his back like an overgrown babe or an upended flounder) to peep at him. And this is what we shall see:


The sign in this form means HCE interred in the landscape, so we will have to step back a bit to take him all in. From Chapelizod to the Bailey lighthouse, from Ashtown to Howth, from riverbank to seashore, he ‘calmly extensolies.’ All the way from fjord to fjell the wind's oboes wail him and all the livelong night the river will wake him.

But reverting to Finnegan on his bier, we find that he has turned himself into a joint on a dish, a right giant of a fish, ‘Finfoefom the Fush.’ And whereas earlier we could distinctly discern among the mourners a particular group of twelve citizens with ‘their duodisimally profusive plethora of ululation’ and we could hear in the din the four commentators voice in turn their opinions of the deceased (‘he's stiff but he's steady,’ etc.), all those attending the wake now coalesce into a quartet of historians seated about a table, disciple-like, ready for a last grand supper of the bold Finn himself. The barrel of Guinness earlier placed at his head reappears as a loaf of Kennedy's bread and the bucket of whiskey at his feet turns into as a glass of O'Connell's famous old Dublin ale hitched to his fishy tail. At 6.02ff (6.30ff) we read:

‘Well, Him a being so on the flounder of his bulk like an overgrown babeling, let wee peep, see, at Hom, well, see peegee ought he ought, platterplate w. Hum!’

If you peep at the above plate on page eighty-eight of Moret's Rois et dieux d'Egypte, you will see a depiction of the funeral vigil of Osiris (here supposed to represent HCE as an overgrown baby or a flounder fish being served on a platter).

The sacrificial meal is about to begin and the platter bearing the noble fish is set ceremoniously on the tablecloth. But no sooner have the four old codgers, having got to the end of saying their grace before meals, readied themselves to ‘quaffoff his fraudstuff’ and ‘sink teeth through that pyth of a flowerwhite bodey,’ that is, to drink his blood (ale) and consume his flesh (bread) when, horror!, they behold of him never more. For he has gone, puff!, vanished. He is no more than a ‘fadograph’ of a yestern scene. He has melted away in their midst. Gone he is. So that meal is off: ale, bread, and good red herring.

Though Finnegan has vanished miraculously from the table/bier, we are assured that now in our own time we can make out the outline of his ‘brontoichthyan’ form as he slumbers by the edge of the trout-filled Liffey. He is not dead, just dormant. He snores in sleep. Yonder in mist his gorse-covered head sticks up stonily. There it is! Howth Head. And his feet of clay are where he last fell on them, by the mound of the Magazine Wall.13

Time and space are now re-presented, the clouds having rolled by, and we participate in a pleasant bird's-eye view of the mountain, mound, or mass, the landscape enveloping Tim/Finn. It is Dublin, of course; but it is also Waterloo.14 It is the battlescape remaining after the bloody wars mentioned in the opening paragraphs. This place, we are told, is now quite fresh and charming; one can see in the greenish distance two pretty ‘villagettes’ (that is, Chapelizod and Lucan, or simply a doubled Chapelizod).15 And here in the middle of all the greenery stands the ‘Wallinstone national museum,’ housing along with Finnegan's mortal remains the collected debris of all wars everywhere.16 We is permitted to enter (soldiers, 1/-) and look around after having first obtained the key from the janitress, the mistress Kate. Push-prams for the invalided are provided.

What follows (7.06-8.39 [8.09-10.23]) is the ‘Museyroom’ (museum/music room) episode. There is a detailed description of the miscellaneous objects conserved in the building recounted by our guide, the keeper Kate, collector and preserver of discarded objects.17 Inside the museum, scenes from the age-old battle(s) are commemorated in wax. These waxworks, judiciously juxtaposed, tell a tale of sexual jealousy: the saga of ‘Lipoleum jiminy Willingdone.’ (see N25 (VI.B.15).045(k))

Reminding us to see to our hats on the way in, Kate points out some miscellaneous souvenirs from the battle of Waterloo: a Prussian gun, a French gun, a Prussian flag, a bullet, and so on; but, more importantly, she exhibits the supreme trophy, a hat: no lesser a hat than the ‘triplewon hat of Lipoleum:’ the very ‘Lipoleumhat’ itself.19 Kate shows us the figure of Wellington (she calls him ‘Willingdone’), looking grand and majestic, mounted on Copenhagen, his white horse, and wearing seven pairs of socks. Another image follows: three soldiers crouched down in a ditch: ‘the three lipoleum boyne grouching down in the living detch.’20 She shows us the landscape where the original affray took place, pointing out to us the ‘Delian alps’ (Dublin mountains) and the ‘crimealine’ that sheltered the lipoleums.21 She also indicates — whether in vision, wax, photography, reality, or through yet some other medium, is unclear — two ‘jinnies’ pretending to read a book of strategy while actually making water (‘making their war’) in plain sight of the Willingdone.22

In working out the details of his version of the battle, Joyce had recourse to this rough plan.

H (HCE) represents the Willingdone, D G C (Shaun, Shem-Shaun and Shem) the lipoleums, and J K (Issy and her mirror image) the jinnies. The jagged scrawl EE probably indicates the position of the Dublin Alps. S signifies Sigurdsson, here called ‘me Belchum.’23 The dotted lines may indicate the path taken in the tour. The sense of the word ‘tip’ which one can discern to the right of and above the central mound is unclear. It punctuates the episode many times and possibly marks the different points at which Kate (who is the book's scavenger) tips her rubbish. Kate's museum, it now transpires, is no more than a dung heap; though it is equally other things. She has gathered all the junk from the battlefield and is piling it up in a mound.

When Kate reappears as the Early Bird, she is partly transformed into Anna Livia. It is she rather than Kate who is later credited with picking up the pieces, not only the odds and ends left behind after the war but, more significantly, HCE himself, as fallen Humpty Dumpty and assassinated (Russian) general. The museum items end up ultimately in the breakfast egg (symbol of ALP's ovum) served to HCE in Book IV. By eating the egg he is devouring his own offspring. Or, since by Book IV Shaun has replaced his father as the new HCE, and as the egg also symbolises HCE (as Humpty Dumpty), looked at in this way it is the son who devours the father.

The Willingdone has a wax-×-6 telescope,24 his ‘tallowscoop,’ a ‘wounderworker’ through which he spies on the jinnies' flank(s). He ‘git[s] the band up’ (has an erection). The jinnies meanwhile send a message to him through a messenger named ‘me Belchum’ (Sigurdsen), in order to ‘irrigate’ (irritate) him: Lieber Arthur, Wir siegen. Wie geht's deiner kleinen Frau? This translates from the German: Dear Arthur, we're on top. And how is your little lady? It is signed: ‘Hugacting. [Dutch hoogachtend, yours faithfully] Nap.’

He responds to the despatch, which is whispered in his ear by the messenger who has just before taken a fillip out of a bottle of porter, with the retort: Cheres jinnies, fichtre! Ca ne fait rien. Foutre! His reply is in French and is terse: Dear Jinnies. Fuck you! That does not matter. Foutre! Wellington.25

The next image that Kate shows us depicts the messenger crossing over the terrain to reach the girls. We perceive more debris: cannonballs, a trench, missiles, troops, the injured, widows, the jinnies in their yellow blouses, and the lipoleums in their red trousers. Then, tonnerre! Panic, blazing, shouting and burning ensues. The> Willingdone shouts. The jinnies start to weep. Off down a hill tear the girls while the Willingdone spies on them through his telescope. But now we realise that the watcher is being watched by the troopers for the dirty old ruffian that he is.26

Somehow the lipoleums — sometimes a single entity called the ‘hinndo’ or G — lose their communal hat. The Willingdone stoops down and scoops it up out of the blood and filth. The hinndoo waxes mad and hastens off to fetch a bomb. The Willingdone with his wide arse on the white horse takes the hat/flag and starts to wipe his/its arse with it. At this insult to his hat, the hinndoo is enraged. He manages to find a matchbox, ignites the fuse of his Guy Fawkes bomb, pitches it at the Willingdone, and blows ‘the whole of the half of the hat of lipoleums off of the top of the tail on the back of his big wide harse.’ Humphrey and horse are now inextricably entangled. Bang! And this was the bull's eye of all bulls' eyes. Snap! End of game. How Copenhagen ended!

Kate has ended her tour. Her barrow is tipped out. We are led ‘this way’ and told to ‘mind your boots going out.’ We came in head-first with a birth image and we go out kaput, feet foremost.

I.1§1B: The Hen, 8.40–11.16 (2010); (10.24–13.28) (1939)

Phew! We leave the close air of the museum, now a pretty candle-lit house with twenty-nine windows. Outside, the wind blows over the downs, a veritable table of green fields. It is such seasonable weather. And, there!, a ‘gnarlybird’ sits on a rock in the midst of the old battlefield.27 The emperor/Willingdone lies unhorsed and under his shield with his sword uselessly beside him. The ‘pigeons pair’ (the jinnies) have flown and the three crows (the jiminies) have flapped off, croaking of debacle to the four quarters of the sky. The gnarlybird — a paradise bird, a fairy-godmother, a pinprick in the landscape with a sack on her back — picks here and pecks there. She is so timid! We have not seen her before because she never comes out, being timid, when all is not quiet. She is superstitious, afraid of noise, especially the cracking of thunder and lightning. But the battle is over. It is Armistice Day, a day of peace and truce. She has borrowed a coachman's lamp the better to see by, and all the ‘spoiled goods’ that she can find strewn about the place go into her sack: spent cartridges, torn-off buttons, old boots and cast-out bottles, clavicles and scapulas, maps, keys, pennies and brooches: ‘boaston nightgarters and masses of shoesets and nickelly nacks and fodder allmichael and a lugly parson of cates and howitzer muchears and midgers and maggets, ills and ells with loffs of toffs and pleures of bells’ — everything, in short, that the fowl can find in the field.28

As well as containing the letter, the sack contains the many gifts Anna Livia is to give (in I.8) to all 111 of her children.29 Clearly, she has stolen her presents. It was ‘bootifull’ of her ‘to steal our historic presents.’30 She (the hen/ALP) is the transmitter of the litter of the past. Greeks may rise and Trojans fall (and pricks rise and trousers fall) — well, isn't that what life is all about? It's small potatoes to her. She knows what she has to do, even if she is mercenary. Even were the land to lie under a flood, she would still search the world for cockles to eat and do all a simple turf-woman could do to push the business of living on. And even if her man was to fall ‘frumpty times as awkward again,’ there would still be eggs for his breakfast come the morning, ‘sunny side up with care.’

While the hen is thus engaged on her ‘behaviourite job,’ we readers ‘may take our review of the two mounds,’ to say nothing of all the other hills around: Cork Hill, Arbour Hill, Summerhill, Miseryhill, Constitutionhill, as well as Olaf road and Sitric road. We may see, if we choose to, the good citizens of Dublin bustling about and going to and fro, trying to eke out an excuse for an existence, ‘scraping along to squeeze out a liklihood that will solve and salve life's robulous rebus,’ hopping like herrings on a griddle on the belly of the giant interred in the ground beneath them.31 We may well say: So this is Dublin! How charming and exquisite!

Suddenly our view narrows. We focus again on the museum, now revealed to be the magazine fort32 about which Swift sardonically wrote:

Behold a proof of Irish sense!
Here Irish wit is seen!
When nothing's left, that's worth defence,
We build a magazine.

We are told to look: Fake! (Irish feac, look!) Our prospect is likened to an ancient engraving hung on a wall, a distortion in which appearances are misleading. In this extraordinary and undifferentiated world-view, forts, museums, tumuli, and inns are all one and the same. So too are the noises of falls and the keens of wakes one and the same. They shall echo and re-echo for ever and ever.34

The four crooners at Tim Finnegan's wake are exhibited as historians. There are four things, they say, in their blue book of history, four things that shall never fail ‘til heathersmoke and cloudweed Eire's ile sall pall.’

One: The swelled head of an alderman (HCE, H).
Two: A shoe on a poor old woman (ALP, A).
Three: A maid to be deserted (Issy, I).
Four: Pens and post (Shem and Shaun, C and D).

So, shifting on in time, it comes as no surprise to find four dated entries in the Annals36 corresponding point for point to these:

1132: Men like ants (emmets) crawl all over a great fish.
566: A crone peers into a kish of brogues (a fish-basket full of shoes).
For years, nothing, only silence.
566: At this time a maid is ravished by an ogre.
1132: Two sons are born to a good man and his hag. They are called Caddy and Primas. Caddy writes and Primas drills.

One thing that these paradigmatic events have in common is that each entailed bloody wars in Dublin, the city's name changing with the times. The gaping hole in the middle, we are told, can perhaps be explained by the temporary flight of the scribe(s). The flood rose, or an elk charged him or them, or the thunder spoke, or someone knocked on the bally door. Whatever it was, times changed in the interim. And not necessarily for the better (for Joyce's example see N8 (VI.B.6).183(c)).

I.1§1D: Quinet, 12.08–12.37 (2010); (14.28–15.28) (1939)

After all that, after reading the four masters — Farfassa O'Mulconry and Peregrine O'Duignan and Peregrine O'Cleary and Michael O'Cleary — we are asked to lift our eyes from the dusty tome, their Liber Lividus38, and behold (lo!) how peacefully stretches before us a peninsular plain (Clontarf): ‘all dimmering dunes and gloamering glades.’ Lying beneath a stone under a pine tree the pastor Saint Patrick lies with his crook.39 Rabbits nibble on young spring verdure. Amid swaying grasses, the creeping clover lowly grows. The sky above us is ever-grey. And all this has been as it is now for donkey's years. Since the days of Heremon and Heber, progenitors of Ireland, the cornflowers have sprouted in Ballymun; dog-roses have burst forth in the hedgerows of Goatstown; tulips have come up in Rush, where twilight is a glory; and whitethorns have flourished out in the fields of Knockmaroon; while about them for a thousand years tribe has struggled with tribe: Fomoire with Tuatha, Tuatha with Fir Bolg.40 One language has replaced another; men upon men fell and by men men have been fallen upon; successive generations have come and gone; but, fresh and charming, as unchanging and as sweetly scented as on the far-off day of the first battles, wild flowers grow still on the arenas of war.41

I.1§1E: Mutt and Jute, 12.38–14.37 (2010); (15.29–18.16) (1939)

We overhear a discussion between two Stone-Age men, Mutt and Jute. It is the first of the Wake's three plebeian discourses; the others being Butt and Taff at 260 (338) and Muta and Juva at 476 (609). These relatively pacific conversations represent the more violent confrontations between two men recounted elsewhere in the book. Mutt and Jute are at once Shaun and Shem, an identification supported by the characteristic eye/ear orientation at 14.36 (18.15), as well as HCE and his arch antagonist, the cad (his many enemies, as it were, collapsed into a unity). Jute is also a form of Sigurdsson. He is a watchman (Sigurdsson is a constable) named ‘Comestipple Sacksun’ at 13.04 (15.35). Mutt thinks Jute is a ‘quhare soort of a mahan,’ which suggests that Jute is the same person as the ‘right querrshnorrt of a mand’ encountered at 54.04 (67.15), that is, the knocker at HCE's gate. Yet another (though unlikely) contender for the role is the ass that accompanies the four historians as their dragoman or interpreter.

The Mutt-Jute encounter may have been suggested to Joyce by the N12.19 note ‘Vikings speak to Benedict through Saxon dragoman,’ though this may more precisely refer to Pegger Festy's outburst at 72.24 (91.03); the setting seems inspired by the N8.95 element ‘Suppose you were to meet the Neanderthal man.’ The punning on utter/mutter/stutter, mute/jute, jeff/deaf, and so on, at the beginning of the chat would seem to be implicit in the noton ‘I am a Jute’ in N26.111. The scene that Mutt recollects is of a battle — AD 1014 at Clontarf when the Danes were ousted by Brian Boru — is brought into the Wake system for its symbolic aspect of dark warring against fair, the Danes having being known as the ‘dark strangers.’ Hence Joyce's N25.205 formulation ‘b of Clontarf / of night v day.’]

Mutt stumbles upon a churl on a hill. The churl is dressed in pelts and stands apart and alone. Mutt wonders who the bugger it is, this terrific pygmy with its ‘locktoes’ and its short legs, its shrunken feet, its enormous head. and its quivering ‘mammamuscles.’ Most monstrous! And it is sucking somebody's brains out of a skull! It is always on the qui vive around these places, apparently, this right queer sort of a man. Speaking to the reader, Mutt suggests that we step over the monster's fire defences and the circumjacent piles of bones sucked dry of marrow. Perhaps he or it can point out to us the shortest way to Nelson's pillar.

Addressing the odd-looking Jute, Mutt attempts to establish his nationality, asking the strange hunchback on the sand-dune if he can understand Danish, French, Norwegian, English, or Saxon.42 But he can only grunt: No! No, no! No, no, no! No, no, no, no!

And so it is clear to Mutt that he has stumbled upon Jute.

Sitting down on a leg of mutton, he asks his companion to ‘swop hats’ and exchange a few haphazard words about the ‘blooty creeks:’ the immediate environs (the bloody creek) but also about the bloody wars alluded to in the Annals. Hat-swopping implies role reversal; hence the mix-up of names. Jute, rather than Mutt, seems to be the native and Mutt the tourist (seeking directions). Yet, in the ensuing dialogue, not only does Jute do a lot of the talking, but the reverse seems to be the case. After a few opening remarks — You there! Are you deaf? Are you a deaf-mute? — Jute wants to know what is the matter with Mutt and how he came to be a stutterer. Mutt declares that it happened after the battle at the ‘Inns of Dungtarf where Used awe to be he’ and, remembering the event, he trembles like a very jelly. Questioned as to why he trembles, he explains that he trembles with wrath in his mind when he remembers him,43 ‘Boohooru’ (Brian Boru, another HCE avatar). Jute slips Mutt some coins to calm him.44 Mutt, recovering himself, proceeds to point out to his companion that this man, the one he goes in fear of, was ‘poached on in that eggtentical spot,’ (was assassinated here on this exact spot) where the girls pissed. Jute, who seems to recollect scraps of knowledge from his reading of a history book as yet unwritten, a tale pre-told, believes (and he wants Mutt to confirm it) that HCE was shot simply because he dumped a wheelbarrow of rubbish (excreted) onto the soil there, and that in doing so he made a noise similar to ‘a bull on a clompturf.’45

Jute had earlier complained that Mutt was almost inaudible to him. He now insists that he can barely understand a single word from start to finish in Mutt's patois. It is all unheard of and obscene. He bids Mutt good afternoon and, promising to see him soon, takes his leave.

Mutt quite agrees. He asks his chance friend, however, to tarry awhile, to hang around and take a long look at the desolate shore here spread out before them. This is Viking ground. Here flux united and reflux sundered. Here the fair replaced the dark. Let him behold this earth with its humus of uncounted dead. Endlessly have the waves splashed against this shore. Innumerable ‘livestories have netherfallen by this plage, flick as flowflakes, litters from aloft, like a waast wizzard all of whirlwords.’ Men have fallen here as thickly as do snowflakes in a snow-storm. Hereunder they lie: the large by the small, the common with the exotic, the greater next to the lesser, unequals rendered equal in the sand cemetery of sleep. This swollen ancestral mound has consumed them all. Here, let Jute respectfully be silent, is the ‘viceking's graab.’46

I.1§2A: The Allaphbed, 14.38–16.39 (2010); (18.17–21.04) (1939)

The tumulus of the previous section now re-forms as a ‘claybook,’ an ‘allaphbed’ (alphabet/riverbed) and a ‘durlbin’ (dustbin,/Dublin). We see that it is a book of life, a vivlion viou, a ‘terricolous vivelyonview this’. It is the Book of ‘Dublends Jined’ (Dublin's Giant, perhaps, or Double Ends Joined, or Finnegans Wake).

Mutt may still be talking to Jute. We are in the same pre-historical phase of early Heidelberg Man, when giants roamed the earth, or perhaps we are in the age of enlightenment when the Buddha (‘Head-in-Clouds’) walked the world with his eyes open and intuited the karmachakra: the concatenation of ignorance, impression, knowledge, name and form, six senses, sensation, desire, attachment, existence, birth, old age, and death. It is an ancient scene. There is as yet no paper to write on. Fountain pens have yet to be invented. All is of yore. We communicate in gesture: ‘You gave me a boot (signs on it!) and I ate the wind.’47 Men are destined to write a little later on on whatever would come to hand, on palm-leaves, pebbles, shoulder bones and skins, but the long arduous crawl to the days of the Magna Carta, to the use of print and type and rubrics and presses and ink-wells has yet to come. In the days of which we speak there is nothing at all of literature beyond the scrawls of the signatures of the world.

Mutt asks Jute to peer into his bin (the mound) to see all manner of curious signs there; for though there are as yet no written records, the world was, is, and shall forever be writing its own ‘wrunes.’ Can Jute not read it? It is the ‘same told of all,’ the ‘meandertale’ told and told again.

Alongside Jute, we peer into the dustbin or midden and behold a hoard of objects in a nice old mess: an axe, a chisel, a ploughshare (to break the earth's crust at all hours, ploughing backwards, forwards, oxen at the yoke), bellicose figurines mounted and armed, a gun, flints, cooked peas, coins, pellets, rocks, oranges, thorns, olives and beets, age-addled owls' eggs, and rotted cheese. And, God help us!, snakes. Our bin is literally crawling with snakes. The whole island was once overrun by them. They first came here from Spain in a cargo of fruit, but along came Saint Patrick and he caught the whole cursed lot of them quicker than a woman would catch up her slipping knickers. And, Mutt adds, if Jute but knew it, all these heterogeneous materials amounts to a wild confusion of potential alphabets: English and Futhorc, Hebrew and Greek, F's and Q's and P's and R's; alephs with beths and ghimels and daleths; deltas and gammas, betas, alphas and epsilons; and W's and S's!

Every word, he explains, has come down to us from the most remote of times, transmitted through the ages in a process of ever-changing forms and meanings. We can only hazard a guess at just how many readings in all there are in the great melting-pot of a book that requires a lifetime to read.

The subsection ends with an introduction to the ensuing tale of the Prankquean. Just as Jute was instructed to stoop to the midden, we readers are urged to look at the book in our hands, our copy of Finnegans Wake, to see how the ‘movibles are scrawling in motions, marching, all of them ago, in pitpat and zingzang, for every busy eerie whig's a bit of a torytale to tell.’ And, when it comes down to it, all it is is a simple tale of a man and his family. It is at its core as simple a tale as paper can carry.

It may well be simple but it is the only one we have to tell. And though we may well tell it a thousand times over, it never comes out the same twice. And, to prove the point, consider the case of the Jarl and the Prankquean.

I.1§2B: Jarl Van Hooter and the Prankquean, Finnegan Tries to Rise and The Arrival of HCE, 16.40–23 (2010); (21.05–29) (1939)

The story that follows48, the ‘Prankquean’ or the ‘Knocking at the Door’, concerns a time long ago in an old long-gone Stone Age of free love when ‘everybilly lived alove with everybiddy else,’ when Adam delved and Eve spun.

Once upon a time, the Jarl van Hoother lived in his high house up on Howth Head along with his two ‘jiminies’ and their ‘dummy.’ And one day who should come to his door but a Prankquean.49 She ‘pulled a rosy one and made her wit forenenst the dour’ (that is, made water against the door and/or knocked). She quizzed the porter (the Jarl himself): ‘Mark the Wans, why do I am alook aike a poss of porterpease?’ (Possibly, I want a cup of water, please.) But the porter answered her: Shit! Shut! So she grabbed up the jiminy called Tristopher and into the wilderness of the west with him she ran, ran, ran. And the Jarl shouted after her to stop, thief, and come back. But she replied: Unlikelihood! So she took off and she stayed away.

After a time the Prankquean came back again to the door of the castle and asked her riddle a second time and ran away again; but this second time she returned the jiminy called Tristopher and kidnapped the jiminy called Hilary. And again she stayed away for a long time. And after that she came to the door of the castle for a third and a last time and she knocked on the door. This time she got to keep the dummy: ‘The prankquean was to hold her dummyship and the jiminies was to keep the peacewave and van Hoother was to git the wind up.’ And she shut up after that.

Precisely how the story ends — or what exactly it concerns — is unclear. It may be about the ancient Irish custom of fosterage: the Prankquean rears the children of another. Or perhaps it is about the calming of intertribal warfare, the chief reason for Irish fosterage. On her first coming, the ‘skirtmisshes began;’ on her last, the ‘skirtmishes endupped.’ The battle of the sexes was finally over. For the Jarl, ‘one man in his armour,’ was finally a match for the Prankquean, ‘any girls under shurts.’

Or it may refer to the first marriage. When the woman came for the third time, the man appeared at the gate got up in a seven-coloured suit of clothes and he ordered her to stop, which she did, after entering the keep and closing the door behind her.50 She was terror-struck. She left off her nomadic ways to cohabit monogamously with the Jarl. Or perhaps it is the founding of the first city is referred to: the motto of the city of Dublin is invoked. Anyhow, with the thunderclap of the closing door there came about the first piece/peace of illiterate/alliterative/illustrative portery/poetry/pottery in the whole damn world.51 The Prankquean and the Jarl got a poss of porter (or tea) apiece. All ‘drank free’ and lived happily ever after.52 And there you are.

From the delightful, symmetrical (with several triptychs) and convolute account of the Jarl, we pass on to a view of the protagonists HCE and ALP in their passive mountain-river state.53 Happy the fault! From evil came good. We can be proud of them, our eponymous first parents, now a hill beside a rill, whom now we climb up and now we jump across. We see them by evening in a spreading darkness. Yet to none shall they reveal the most-secret secret of their ‘soorcelossness.’54 The mount keeps mum. The river glides by. Why does he keep silent? And where the dickens is she hurrying to? Old Howth, he is topped in clouds. He frowns as he strains to hear what she babbles to him of so and so and such and such. How he strives! Verflucht! If he could but twig her! But he cannot. ‘Impalpabunt, he abhears.’ His ears having failed him, he clutches at her hair with his hands, misses and turns away, hopeless and unhearing. He is landlocked and petrified. But if he could read the morning papers he would see how but for them, our bread and water givers, he with his holy halibut and she with her powder puff, there wouldn't be a spire in the town at all, or a vessel floating in the dock, nay, or a boy or a girl to play hide-and-seek as the light slips away of a Dublin evening.

He ‘dug in and dug out’ and he ‘sweated his crew’ and he ‘urned his dread;’ he ‘made louse for us’ and he ‘delivered us to boll weevils,’ so he did, our mighty liberator, our ancestor most glorious; and would do as much again if he could, could the whispering grasses wake him. And will again when, a phoenix, he ‘disembers’ exclaiming Whirl your liquor round like blazes, Thanam an dhoul, de ye think I'm dead?

We are back (or is it forward) at the point of Finnegan's outburst on revival. The mourners at his wake react to it not with incredulity or approval or joy but rather with thinly veiled menace. They are dead set against having him (whom they civilly address as ‘sir’) back among them in the land of the living. He'd only lose himself, they assure him, in Dublin now, the state the roads are in, and catch his death of cold, or meet some old fogey or a donkey with a shoe hanging loose or a slut snoring on a park bench. As true as God, it would only turn him against living! To part, Tim, from the green pastures of life is difficult, to be sure, but let your ghost have no grievance. Isn't he much better off as he is, up there comfortable on the bier, all rolled up in a nice clean sheet, happily remembering his past lives? What would he want to leave the zone of souls for? He can rest assured they will visit his grave and rake the gravel there and place shabti figures in his tomb along with ‘offerings of the field.’ Shucks, his fame is spreading like ointment now that he's dead and gone. Half the township is honouring his memory; they're naming this, that and the other after him. He would hardly want to go and spoil all that now, would he? Aren't the locals turning up in droves to gape at his gargantuan toothpick of a memorial out there in the park? ‘The game old Gunne, they do be saying that was a planter for you.’

Seven times the four historians (for it is they) salute the supposedly defunct Finnegan: Hero! And they pray that his days by the sweet celestial stream of Hep be calm and happy. But, growing ever more alarmed at the prospect of his actual return, to make assurance doubly sure, they incant an Ancient-Egyptian religious formula over him to keep him still:

We have performed upon thee all the things which the company of the gods ordered concerning thee in the matter of the work of thy slaughter. Get thee back, thou abomination of Osiris from the Neshmet boat — We know thee: thou shalt not come to me, O thou who comest without being invoked, and whose time of coming is unknown.55

To mollify him, the persuaders explain that everything here in Dublin is going on the same as and no different than before. The same old slop is in the shop-windows: Jacob's biscuits and Dr Tibble's Vi-Cocoa and Edwards' Desiccated Soup and Mother Seigel's Syrup Tonic. Devil a thing has changed. The price of meat is down, and coal is a wee bit dearer, and barley is up again. The twins are doing their lessons nice and regular — they're all for the books and never pegging rocks at glasshouses. There was great joy, to be sure, the day they were born, and Finnegan will be a grandfather yet. Kevin (Shaun) is just an angel, though the devil does be in that wretch of a Jerry (Shem) betimes. And Hetty Jane (Issy) is a Child of Mary. So let him lie easy and enjoy his well-earned rest.

Heedless of admonitions, Finnegan struggles to rise. The four have to physically restrain him (as in III.3 they will restrain Yawn), all the while talking to him and filling his ear with gossip. They will keep a wary eye on the maid and the butler, they promise him. The spring in the old clock is regularly wound, and his missus is grand too with devil a hair out of place. The old cat still sits and eyes her as she sews or waits for nestlings to fall down the flue. So let him rest where he is and take it easy. ‘Repose you now. Finn no more!’

It really is the end for him. Unlike the cat in the ballad, he cannot come back. There is already, they have to tell him, a ‘big rody ram lad at random on the premises,’ who is taking his place and flourishing into the bargain. A rum lad, as high as a chimney and as broad as a bear, and a family along with him, a wife and three bairns. So there can be no question at all of him coming back now to upset the apple-cart. Anachronism be damned!

Poor old hod-carrying Timothy Finnegan, that simple, parochial, redundant Irishman! Times have changed and now there simply is no room for him any more. The four try to convince him of this simple fact. Somebody else has taken his place: ‘Humme the Cheapner, Esc,’ a foreigner who came to this place one time or another in a bum's rush of a hell of a hurry in the hull of a wherry, The Bay of Dublin, the first schooner ever to visit these shores. And he has been repeating himself like a fish ever since, his lady by his side, these seventy years, growing steadily greyer under his turban. It is he, the old offender, it is he, Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, and no other he (and certainly not some tipsy Finnegan) who is fated to be ultimately responsible for all the trouble caused in ‘Edenborough’ (Dublin).