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The Tomb

The fall of HCE in Finnegans Wake frequently alludes to falls of religious mythology, for instance Osiris, Satan, Adam and Christ. The more notorious falls of men of historical note, and particularly those who are Irish, such as Brian Boru, Charles Parnell, Daniel O'Connell, and Oscar Wilde, also surface frequently. The fall is social as well as physical, incorporating the 'fall from grace' of the always implicit first fall of Christianity, with a loss of reputation resulting from parody or invective such as HCE undergoes in the scurrilous Ballad of Persse O'Reilly, or that which O'Connell and Parnell suffered in their last years. The fall can also occur as an incarceration, as in the story of Betrefender, and the conviction and imprisonment of Oscar Wilde. Allusions to numerous falls of myth, religion and history form parts of the archaeological 'litter' of Finnegans Wake, yet all are united by the generic fall of the 'Here Comes Everybody' proto-character. HCE's hold over his descendants' minds from the tomb, or spiritual world, likewise epitomises their influence of the dead on succeeding generations.

As discussed, HCE never entirely disintegrates, but remains dormant, encapsulated in a tomb generally of his own making, or again as a fallen giant interred into the landscape, awaiting resurrection. In Finnegans Wake the earth, its cities and cultures are composed of fallen HCE figures, and the Wake links these fallen male characters of history and fiction either through the singularity of their fates or achievements or by otherwise associating them with an undefined divine, genetic or evolutionary originator:

Blankdeblank, god of all machineries and tomestone of Barnstaple. (FW 253.33-34)

Length Withought Breath, of him, a chump of the evums, upshoot of picnic or stupor out of sopor, Cave of Kids or Hymanian Glattstoneburg, denary, danery, donnery, domm, who, entiringly as he continues highly fictional, tumulous under his chthonic exterior but plain Mr Tumulty in muftilife in his antsipiences as in his recognisances, is, (Dominic Directus) a manyfeast munificent more mob than man. (FW 261.13-22)

What is clear about the many fallen HCEs interred in Finnegans Wake is that their creative output remains pervasive in the continuous present of the text. Their handiwork forms the warp and weft from which the present is woven. Joyce's view of the lingering impact of the dead upon a living society is a development of Ibsen's similar perception, particularly in Ghosts where Helena Alving perceives the influence of the dead gliding between the lines of her newspaper.1 B.J. Tysdahl, examining the influence of Ibsen's Ghosts upon Finnegans Wake, focuses upon the notion of recurrence rather than omnipresence, 'that in FW people come back to life, changed but still the same'.2 However, in Finnegans Wake, the ghosts of HCE, or more specifically the remnants of their accomplishments and thoughts, not only 'come back' but constitute the present. The walls which the HCE-Masterbuilder creates and falls from, encapsulate him as do the cities in which his descendants live. The mud with which Shem inscribes a picture of his mother's reporductive organs is in a sense contains HCE, 'the chocolate with a soul' (FW 144.15-16). Joyce's perception of the presence of the dead amongst the living is also obvious in the Dubliners story, 'The Dead', where Gretta's memory of Michael Furey allows the dead to reach forward through time into the present of the Conroys' lives. Finnegans Wake is equally a literary cemetery of the fallen, each of whom has a continuing, although frequently unperceived, impact upon its literary 'present', and the narrator invites those readers with the requisite knowledge, perception and inclination to view their own present in a similar light: 'This ourth of years is not save brickdust and being humus the same roturns. He who runes may rede it on all fours' (FW 18.4-6). Moreover, the values of the dead which dominate the present in Finnegans Wake are physically enforced by Shaun and hence his persecution of the subversive Shem. This is consistent with Freud's perception in Totem and Taboo which identifies the deity as a murdered primal ancestor: the law of the father is accepted to expiate the guilt associated with his murder, and rejection of it imparts guilt to the deviant.

A 'god on pension' (FW 24.17), or 'gourd on puncheon' (FW 373.20), HCE is frequently equated to deities or prophets in Finnegans Wake. In particular HCE is frequently aligned with the Judeo-Christian omnipotent male creative force, as for instance in the following:

One fledge, one brood till hulm culms evurdyburdy. (FW 378.4-5)

Gill the father, put out by Gill the son and circulating disimally at Gillydehooly's Cost. (FW 440.14-15)

In Book III.3, one of the Four Historians asks Yawn to locate his father HCE, 'We speak of Gun, the farther. And in the locative. Bap! Bap!', to which Yawn replies, 'Ouer Tad, Hellig Babbau whom certayn orbits assertant re humeplace of Chivitats Ei. [...] He might in a sense be both nevertheless, every at man like myself' (FW 481.19-24). Note too the allusion to 'chivvy chase' and the hunting scene of the picture motif. There are also numerous allusions to the Lord's Prayer in which HCE is substituted for the Christian god. For example:

is a Willbeforce to this hour at house as he was in heather. (FW 126.20-21)

the flawhoolagh, the grasping one, the kindler of paschal fire; forbids us our trespassers as we forgate him. (FW 128.33-34)

Ouhr Former who erred in having down to gibbous disdag our darling breed. (FW 530.36-531.1)

O rhyme us! Haar Faagher, wild heart in Homelan; Harrod's be the naun. Mine kinder come, mine wohl be won. (FW 536.34-36)

see you not soo the pfath they pfunded, oura vatars that arred in Himmal, harruad bathar namas. (FW 599.4-6)

Atherton points out in The Books at the Wake that on one level Joyce was rewriting the Old Testament.3 In this respect Shem resembles Joyce, whose letter rewrites the significance of the HCE deity through his own creativity. In Book I.5, Shaun describes ALP's letter, and by extension Finnegans Wake, as scripture: 'The proteiform graph itself is a polyhedron of scripture' (FW 107.8). Virginia Moseley similarly notes many allusions and parallels with biblical narratives, and suggests that the marriage of HCE and ALP mirrors the union of 'Christ and his Bride'.4 Beryl Schlossman examines 'Joyce's debt to the domain of the sacred', and centres the Easter resurrection cycle in the textual flux of Finnegans Wake.5

Almost as a prelude to Finnegans Wake, Joyce's Ulysses can be perceived as a rewriting of the New Testament as well as of the Odyssey. Parallel with the New Testament, Stephen Dedalus is an isolated artist in search of his spiritual father. Similar to the abandonment of Christ by the apostles on the evening before his crucifixion, Stephen is abandoned by his comrades in Nighttown and endures an 'agony', albeit with his mother, over his refusal to serve the deity. Later he is struck unconscious by soldiers of an occupation army, and following his 'resurrection' from this unconscious state is reunited with his 'consubstantial father' Bloom. In Ulysses the Jehovah father figure, and genetic descendant from such an originator, proves to be an Odysseus divested of all violent inclination, a 'mass man' rather than a deity, firmly on the side of peace and social freedom, a hero of consciousness rather than violent action. In Finnegans Wake, 'god' in the form of HCE, is an equivalent of the universal target that Bloom is in Ulysses and the process of cultural deification requires a reciprocal social vilification. As is discussed below, the Wake parallels both the Old and New Testaments in its explanation of both initial ex nihilo creation and establishment of the father deity, and also the second coming of the son (see *). As YHWH, however, HCE only ever attains a temporary creative omnipotence; the myth of his omnipotence is nonetheless both perpetuated and enlarged through the inaccuracy of cultural memory and the repressive machinery of social manipulation.

1 Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts and Other Plays, ed. by E.V. Rieu, trans. by Peter Watts (1881; Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977), p. 61.

2 B.J. Tysdahl, Joyce and Ibsen: A Study in Literary Influence (New York: Humanities Press, 1968), p. 157.

3 James S. Atherton, The Books at the Wake: A Study of Literary Allusions in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake (London: Faber and Faber, 1959), p. 179.

4 Virginia Moseley, Joyce and the Bible (Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 1967), p. 144.

5 Beryl Schlossman, Joyce's Catholic Comedy of Language (Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), p. xii.