In a recent Gypsy Scholar blog post (please click HERE) Professor Hodges holds up for consideration the following passage from James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake:
...a way a lone a last a loved a long the riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs . . . . a way a lone a last a loved a long the riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.
Professor Hodges observes, first, that the circular character of the passage is clear but nevertheless it goes neither here nor there, nor has it much to say; if this is Joyce’s point, it really isn’t much of a point, nor is the prosody that interesting—which is supported by Professor Hodges' second, bibliographic, observation that the text itself is an unsettled and ill-defined matter. He writes:
One knows not where to begin . . . plus even before setting forth to read (before the beginning? before the ending?), one must, as I have now come to understand, first settle on a correct manuscript, notoriously difficult in a text that breaks rules.
My comment, to which Professor Hodges signals agreement, reads as follows:
FW is a work exhibiting much mystery and few virtues... A "scripture" for a secular prelacy... A hamster wheel for neophytes.
What's to be done with this over-written text teaming with the endless exercise of linguistic "suggestions" and cultural allusions that trace off into meaninglessness, and (most importantly?) exhibiting an aesthetic that is evidently obscurantist? I suppose there are some who view the book as a lively expression of "Irish wordplay unbound", an explosion in four dimensions of the "dynamic and wonderfully unpredictable" Keltic imagination. Being somewhat predisposed to a Keltic view of things (and my ancestry is one-quarter Scot, after-all) I am wont to pronounce a Keltic judgment upon the work; to whit, it is a bog full of gibberish.