FW THEME: THE NAMES OF HCE/ALP
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THE NAMES OF HCE/ALP
– May 12, 2015
Because of the overlapping of stories and multiplicity of the levels of ideation with the Wake, I recognize that it can get confusing keeping track of the use of the names, especially as regards the main family unit. The main male-female pair even at the basic narrative level is not always Humphry Chimpden and Anna Livia. This note explains how I take the names and persons of the main family.
The Wake begins with the story of Finn and his wife. I am not sure if she is ever directly named, though I see no reason not to say that "he addle liddle phiffie Annie" gives the name as Annie.
After Finn dies he is reborn as Humphrey Chimpdon, who is given the last name "Earwicker" by the travelling noble. Earwicker's wife is Anna Livia Plurabelle. They have children, but the children are never identified.
The age of Earwicker and Anna Livia is replaced with the age of their childred, Shem, Shaun, and Issy, with Shaun taking Earwicker's place as head of the age.
The way I read the book, the continual presence of "HCE" and "ALP" in the book are not direct references to any of the above characters: "HCE" is all the male characters, is the line of the mythical masculine passing through all those characters; likewise "ALP" informs all the female characters of the family. As such is why Earwicker is, at certain levels of ideation, Shem and Shaun, and Anna Livia is Issy (and vice versa): there is the continuity through the lineage of HCE and ALP.
As such, "HCE" becomes a usable tag in criticism for all the versions of HCE and shorthand for Humphrey Chimpden (and same with ALP and Anna Livia).
To note, time is not a fixed reference within the Wake. This is how Earwicker as a peasant can get his name from a noble and yet be the Earwicker who is the tavern keeper in Dublin. There is a part of my thinking that wants there to be another change of "age" between the Earwicker of the opening of chapter 1.2 and the Humphrey Chimpden that follows; though, it is only now a thought and I have nothing, in truth, with which to give it strength of argument. Though, the transition from the age of myth (that of Finn) to the age of today (that of Humphrey Chimpden) happens through the movement from myth to history to contemporenaiety, through the various episodes and stories of chapter 1.1 and 1.2, and the narrative flow through those changes can be quite clever (if confusing). For instance, it seems that the transition from the peasant-named-"Earwicker" to the Humphrey Chimpdon the tavern keeper occurs by the former being identified as part of the "universal" audience of A Royal Divorce on page 32 to the latter being one of the characters on the stage, by way of "A baser meaning has been read into these characters" (32.14), turning the observed stage into the world of Dublin.