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3.9 The Wall and the Original Sin

A number of critics have suggested that the original sin in Finnegans Wake is creativity itself, whether as sexual reproduction, material construction or artistic invention.8 The merging of the original sin of the Old Testament and the Wakean sin is explicit in a phrase suggesting that the fallen Humpty Dumpty perceives the bitten apples of the original sin by his wall: 'Broken Eggs will poursuive bitten Apples for where theirs is Will there's his Wall' (FW 175.19-20). The temptation of Adam by Eve is also present, for the Maggies are not always ravished by HCE, and in a number of instances provide sexual favours either freely or for pecuniary reward. The Maggies are, for instance, described as prostitutes: 'Let a prostitute be whoso stands before a door and winks or parks herself in the fornix near a makeussin wall (sinsin! sinsin!)' (FW 116.16-18). Temptation similarly features in the following description of the fall: 'Leg-before-Wicked lags-behind-Wall where here Mr Whicker whacked a great fall.' (FW 434.10-11). Temptation in the Wake is never overtly for knowledge or the omnipotence of the Judeo-Christian deity, as in the explanation of the original sin in Genesis, but is persistently and explicitly sexual. While the site of the sin is frequently depicted as having a tree present, the wall in general subsumes the Christian icon of the tree of knowledge, and rather than fruit upon a tree, in the Wake the sexual temptations themselves sit upon a wall: 'Moggie's on the Wall' (FW 176.04).

In another manifestation of the sin, HCE's transgression consists of revealing himself to the Maggies. The wall is where 'our maggy seen all, with her sisterin shawl' (FW 7.32) and similarly, 'It's margarseen oil. Thinthin thinthin' (FW 615.31-32). HCE's exposure to the Maggies merges with the exposure of the Russian General's backside to Buckley. In Book III.4, HCE is found guilty of 'fornicolopulation' with two relations 'whom he was said to have enjoyed by anticipation when schooling them', to which he protests that his exposure was instead an incitement to the three fusiliers, a 'deretane denudation with intent to excitation' (FW 557.17-22). In the latter provocation, the original sin consists of an invitation to homosexual buggery, the excitement of the soldiers a prelude to his deliberate departure and silence, and his consequent displacement from the logos.

8 For instance, Margaret C. Solomon, Eternal Geomater (Carbondale & Edwardsville: Southern Illinois University Press, 1969), p. 12; James S. Atherton, The Books at the Wake: A Study of Literary Allusions in James Joyces's Finnegans Wake (London: Faber and Faber, 1959), p. 31; Adaline Glasheen, Third Census of Finnegans Wake: An Index of the Characters and Their Roles (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977), p. xlv.