CHAPTER OUTLINE: 1.7

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A paragraph by paragraph outline of the narrative flow; for details, see the page by page analysis. – last updated July 22, 2015

Chapter 1.7 of Finnegans Wake centers on Shem the Penman, one of the twin sons of HCE and ALP. Though, it is also about James Joyce himself as a writer and Irish expatriot, as well as about the books that lead up to Finnegans Wake: Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and, most greatly, Ulysses. While I don't think I could yet make a true argument to the point, it has been my thought, here and there, on and off, that there is something false about saying Finnegans Wake is about HCE. My thought is that it is, actually, Shem that is the central figure of the book: central in the sense of being the axis around which the book turns, even though he is not himself present in much of the text. Indeed, I have, also on and off, carried the tentative idea that Finnegans Wake is the dream of an older Stephen Dedalus, of Stephen Dedalus during or after the writing of his greatest work, which is itself Finnegans Wake.

I say that because in examining 1.7, it seems that it is here that there is the first real anchoring of the 'story' of Finnegans Wake (insofar as it is a 'story').

Of course, none of that is involved in what follows, which is merely an outline, a reading guide for the narrative flow of the chapter. Something which may help you work through what is a difficult chapter.

Numbers signify page.line:paragraph, with '0' used for a paragraph that began on the previous page.

 

160.1.1 Shem is as short . . .
— Chapter begins with a description of Shem's ancestry
— Note: though Shem and Shaun are twin brothers, they are yet spoken of as being also of different 'ancestries,' those ancestries speaking both the nature of Shem and Shaun, and the lineage of male archetypes of which each is the current incarnation. (There is but one ALP, but there are many HCEs.)

 

169.11.2 Shem's bodily getup . . .
— The primary idea of the paragraph is Shem's physical appearance; but, it is used to introduce the first riddle of the universe. The shift in syntax is at "[. . .] so much so that [. . .]" (169.20):

Even in his youth, Shem's alienness to himself was "[. . .] so much so that [. . .]" he looked at himself and came upon "the riddle of the universe": "when is a man not a man."
He offers, at what is a daycare or school, a prize if anyone can guess the answer (169.7).
Answers are offered (170.9ff).
– "All were wrong," so Shem gives the answer: "Sham" (170.21).

 

170.25.1 Shem was a sham . . .
— Beginning an extended description of Shem's lowness. — First, with reference to his gastronomical habits; — Then, turning to his drink (171.13)

 

171.29.1 Aint that swell hey? . . .
A shift from exposition to the action. Here forward, the chapter moves back and forth between the two. The action starts zoomed out. The paragraph is about a woman photographer get a picture of the apostate Shem, traveling a short-cut to Caer Fere. There is an aspect of 1.7 that it reads like an article in a magazine or newspaper; here is a moment of 'current proof of the existence of Shem.' The rest of the action part are events in the past.

 

172.5.1 [Johns is a different . . .
— An interjected advertisement. (Think again of reading an article in a magazine.)

 

172.11.2 Around that time, moreover . . .
— Shifting back to exposition, and to the subject of Shem's being low. Here, about how though he was so low, he never followed type and committed suicide.
"With the foreign devil's leave . . . .": indeed, he thwart's death. Anzi – "on the contrary" – he called his brother from "asylum": the pun being that asylum can be both his asylum from political oppression (in "Soak Amerigas"; 171.34-5) and asylum as in a mental institution.

 

172.27.3 You see, chaps . . .
— Shem's lowness as seen in his literary habits.
— The structure of the long sentence is as follows:

– ". . . and if you ever . . ." (172.27) make mention to him about his "evil courses" (172.32-33), such as with the questions in 172.36-173.7.
– ". . . he would . . ." (173.9)
– ". . . begin to tell all the intelligentsia . . ." (173.14-15)
– ". . . the whole lifelong swrine story of his entire low cornaille existence" including disparaging his ancestors, including his father, HCE
– ". . . till nowan knowed how howmely howme could be" (173.29); all the while talking about his own language. (The w's and e's connect "home" to "Howthe.")
— Note in here and throughout the chapter is found a description of Joyce, the Wake and of Joyce's literary career.

 

174.5.1 He went without saying . . .
— Continuing the exposition with on how Shem avoids any and all conflict, particularly as regards political conflict.

 

174.22.2 One hailcannon night . . .
— As an example of that, we have the primary scene, that which governs the rest of the chapter. Note, though, this does not occur in the present; it's an telling of a past incident as an example. The paragraph above about the photograph is the only moment close to any 'present' (barring the textual aspects of that you are reading an article with advertisements).
— The episode begins with Shem being "soggert" by "rival teams" (174.25) in what will be caled the "allstar bout" between "our wellingtoms extraordinary and our pettythicks the marchalaisy" (176.20-22).
— Though, because of his lowness, the teams end up being friends with Shem (174.33-36).

 

175.5.1 All Saints beat Belial . . .
— Digressing on the soccer theme (but keeping within the theme of reading a newspaper or such), you have the announcement of the results of the match: All Saints beat Belial (which is the general relationship: Shaun wins over Shem).
— Following the announcement is the 'football match song': like other such, it mentions many of the elements of the Wake (including opening in a way parallel to the opening of 1.1, and closing with reference to the "Ballad of Persse O'Reilly").

 

175.29.2 O fortunous casualitas! . . .
— Continuing the conflict avoidance theme: Shem never participated in sports or games, either; listing the various childrens games that he would not play.

 

176.19.1 Now it is notoriously . . .
— Returning to the action of the allstar bout. In the midst of it, Shem "fled like a leveret" to "Talviland" (176.27).
— there, he holed himself up in his inkbottle house (called here "inkbattle house," 31). — ". . . where . . ." he collapsed, moaning, etc.

 

177.8.1 How is that for low . . .
— Closing off the descriptions of Shem's lowness.

 

177.13.2 But would anyone, short of a madhouse, believe it? . . .
— An expositionary aside, about how Shem would boast about himself. The majority of the paragraph describes, for example, "one occasion" with "Davy Browne-Nowlan"(177.18ff)

 

178.8.1 After the thorough fright . . .
| — Returning to the day of the allstar bout. While everyone else was caught up in the battle and its aftermath, Shem was "stonestepping" "across the sevenspan ponte dei colori" (178.24-25).
— There, he took a "peepestrella" through "a threedraw eighteen hawkspower durdicky telescope" (178.22-23; a reference to Ulysses).
— However, he discovers he is really – "found himself" – looking down the barrel of a gun held by a person who had been "told off to shade and shoot shy Shem" (179.2ff) Consider the scene like a comic scene in a film, where the half-flighty hero believes themselves doing one thing, of to them a positive nature, only to find, when the camera pulls out, they are in quite the opposite situation.

 

179.9.1 What, para Saom Plaom . . .
— I read this paragraph as a narrative digression, the narrative voice coming out and asking what it is that Shem was doing that would put him in such a bind. Though, perhaps it can be read that this paragraph are the thoughts (if not actually voiced) by the fellow with the gun.

 

179.17.2 The answer, to do all the diddies in one dedal. . .
— In answer to the above question is that Shem had "flickered up and flinnered down into a drug and drunkery addict, growing megalomane of a loose past" (179.20-21).
— "This explains the litany of [. . .] letters" (179.21-22), which is also to say his literary works, like the "Blue Book of Eccles" (179.27), a.k.a. Ulysses.
— The structure of the long sentence:

– "It would have diverted [. . .] the shuddersome spectacle" (179.24-25)of Shem in his inkbottle house, "making believe to read" the Blue Book of Eccles and his other literary production, telling himself how great they were (179.24ff).
– ". . . when . . ." (180.4), according to all accounts, "he squealed" for five minutes (180.6-7)
– ". . . but what with the murky light," etc. (180.17ff), "he was hardset to mumorise more than a word a week" (180.29-30).

 

180.34.1 Yet the bumper sprinkler . . .
— And yet, Shem would still boast (if, again, alone to himself), "how he had been toed out of all the schicker families" (181.3-4), "in most cases on account of his smell" (181.9-10).
— Instead of kowtowing to the rich, he instead learned to forge their signatures "so as one day to utter an epical forged cheque on the public for his very private profit" (181.16-17); that is, until he got thrown out by "Slutter's Mowled Futt" (181.18-19).

 

181.27.1 [Jymes wides to hear . . .
— Another interruptive advertisement.

 

181.34.2 One cannot even begin . . .
— The exposition comes back again the declaiming Shem's lowness, here as regards his social relations and forgeries.

 

182.4.1 Be that as it may . . .
— Whatever his (social) lowness, Shem "never would have quilled a seriph to sheepskin" (182.10-11) if not for "his gnose's glow" (182.4-5). I read this as both pointing back to his drugs and drinking (179.20) and, because of the pun on gnostic, pointing to that quality that differs Shem from Shaun, the latter being oriented by dogma as opposed to gnostic understanding.

 

182.30.2 The house OShea . . .
— Describing Shem's house, the Haunted Inkbottle, and all the bric-a-brac that could be found in it. This continues the running description of Shem's lowness.

 

184.11.1 Of course our low hero . . .
— Being so low, Shem did his own cooking, cooking his own eggs. Listed are various recipes of eggs Shem used.
— Midparagraph, slight change: though he had his house and things, he did not really need them (184.36-185.1). So, when "Robber and Mumsell" took away his candles and stationary (185.1-5), Shem "winged away" across the "kathartic ocean" (185.5-6); again referencing the Americas as a place of sanctuary), and "made synthetic ink and sensitive paper for his own end out of his wit's waste" (185.7-8).
— as for ink, that process is put in Latin to conceal it from sensitive minds.

 

185.14.1 Primum opifix . . .
— Description of how Shem makes ink. This translation is from McHugh's Annotations:
First the artist, the eminent writer, without any shame or apology, pulled up his raincoat and undid his trousers and then drew himself close to the life-giving and allpowerful earth, with his buttocks bare as they were born. Weeping and broaning he relieved himself into his own hands. Then, unburdened of the black beast, and sounding a trumpet, he put his own dung which he called his "down-castings" into an urn once used as an honored mark of mourning. With an invocation to the twin bretheren Medard and Godard he then passed water into it happily and mellifluously, while chanting in a loud voice the psalsm which begins "My tongue is the pen of a scribe writing swiftly." Finally, from the foul dung mixed with the "sweetness of divine Orion" and baked and then exposed to the cold, he made himself an indelible ink.
The refered to Psalm is 44:2 (in the Vulgate).

 

185.27.1 Then, pious Eneas . . .
— For paper, Shem wrote all over his own body.
— "So perhaps" (186.10), "the shining keyman" (186.15), Constable Sackerson, "who thought it was ink was out of his depth but bright [right] in the main" (186.17-18).

 

186.19.1 Petty constable Sistersen . . .
— The exposition breaks, and the narrative resumes back at the day of the battle.
— Sackerson "had been detailed from pollute stoties to save" Shem (186.21-22). He himself was on his way from "a protoprostitute" (186.27; perhaps Issy, perhaps one of the Rainbow girls).
— He was "literally astoundished" over "the painful sake": that is, the details of Shem's situation, as prompted by his many questions (187.2ff).

 

187.15.1 Polthergeistkotzdondherhoploits! . . .
— Sackerson was most astonished by Shem mentioning his mother ("murder" in l. 13, in the previous paragraph).
— I read the latter half of the paragraph as saying Sackerson backs out of being present when Shem is brought before the magistrate. Notice line 21 establishes the duo of "mercy or justice" that follows.

 

187.24.2 JUSTIUS (to himother) . . .

 

187.28.3 Stand faith, Nayman of Noland . . .

 

188.8.1 Let us pry. . . .

 

189.28.1 Snifter of caution . . .

 

190.10.1 O, by the way, yes . . .

 

191.5.1 Shall we follow . . .

 

191.9.2 There grew up beside you . . .

 

191.34.3 Ever read of that . . .

 

192.5.1 Malingerer in luxury . . .

 

193.9.1 Let me finish! . . .

 

193.29.2 He points the deathbone . . .

 

193.31.3 MERCIUS (of hisself) . . .

 

195.5.1 He lifts the lifewand . . .

 

195.6.2 –Quoiquoiquoiquoiquoiquoiquoiq! . . .