Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, on one hand, can be described as the slumbering hero within whose dreaming mind rages the central consciousness containing the psychological landscape upon which the actions of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake take place.

On the other hand, taken at face value and in an effort to simplify the most puzzling novel ever written, Earwicker is a stuttering tavern-keeper with a bull-like hump on the back of his neck who is running for local office.

He is married to Anna Livia Plurabelle, who is bewitching and ever-industrious. Together they have three children--the twin boys, Shem and Shaun, and their daughter, Issy (or Isabel, or Isabella, or Iseult for that matter). Earwicker, depending upon where your finger and mind rest in the book, is also described as a Sea Captain, a General, a Mountain, a Tree.

Finnegans Wake is a literary exposition of the Heisenberg Principle—nothing can be merely what it seems. As soon as we think we KNOW a character, an action, a result, it turns out that we CAN'T know. Whose point of view are we sharing? What is the time frame within which the words exist? The book contains dreams within dreams and its logic is simultaneously that of a dreamer, an artist, a drunkard and a God.

In spite of this however, for those of us who need guideposts of *some* sort, throughout this puzzling narrative husband and wife may conveniently be regarded as polar opposites in continuous play against each other. Earwicker (Adam, Noah, Lord Nelson), or HCE (Here Comes Everybody), is the Principle of Space and Time. Anna Livia (Eve, Isis, a passing cloud, the River Liffey) is the Source of Life and Rebirth.

The Twins are polarized aspects of HCE's personality and underscore his fear of aging and the unknown. Issy is a younger version of Anna Livia herself and appears to arouse HCE as much—if not more than—the two young girls in Phoenix Park (the Garden of Eden), where Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, it is said, committed an act of indiscretion.

And thereupon hangs a tale....


Shades of Joyce:

a nice cool glass of Joyce
Anna Livia Plurabelle
Cashel Boyle O'Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell
Finnegans Wake
Finn MacCool
Garry Owen
HCE
Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker
Issy the Teenage Rainbow
Lucia Joyce
Mina Purefoy
Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress
riverrun
Shaun
Shem the Penman
Ulysses is not pornography
Volta Cinema

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