Dhe first book publication by James Joyce was the 1907 volume of poems “Chamber Music”. Musically, with the ear, one must also read his prose. In the first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, published in 1916, we hear a contrite, sin-conscious, confessional confession from the hero Stephen Dedalus: “He had to confess, to speak out in words what he had done and thought, sin after sin.” On the other hand, consider a page of the late work “Finnegans Wake”, published in 1939: “Zinzin. Zinzin.” Penetrantly repeats, it’s not just a tinkle.
A story is told of the fall, the physical but also a spiritual fall. It goes back to the fall of man. Stanislaus Joyce, the writer’s younger brother, recorded his earliest childhood memory of James, speaking of a “divided-role performance of the story of Adam and Eve, which he put on for the edification of our parents and the nanny. I was Adam; and a sister, not quite a year older than me, Eva. The devil was my brother. What I only vaguely remember is the image of him wriggling on the floor and the long tail he must have made out of a rolled towel or bed sheet.”
Finnegans Wake begins mid-sentence: “riverrun, past Eve and Adam’s.” Flow, river, past (the abode) of Eve and Adam. We later learn that the river is the Liffey, which runs through Dublin, but that its old name, Anna Liffey, also refers to Anna Livia Plurabelle, the great woman of this world book. With Adam and Eve the highest level of meaning is addressed. Dublin’s Church of the Immaculate Conception, also known as Adam and Eve’s, is on the River Liffey.
The “case” runs through the book. So we even hear of an article in the “Frankfurter Zeitung”, a (parodistic/paid/ridiculous) periodical from the mainland (or Schnell-)Land, reporting on the case: “. . . the first deal of Yuly wheil he was, swishing beesnest with blesure, and swobbing broguen eeriesh myth brockendotsch, making his reporterage on Der Fall Adams for the Frankofurto Siding, a Fastland payrodicule.” The Adams case is the fundamental question of Christian theology.
Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, nicknamed HCE, the main protagonist, and his wife have two sons and a daughter. A never-to-be-explained MeToo story about the father haunts the entire book; somehow he approached girls in the park in a way that was unseemly; his defense increases suspicion rather than dispels it. A letter dictated by his wife, written by his son Shem and delivered or at least transported by the other son Shaun is said to exist or have existed. The investigation drags on. Voices ask about Earwicker’s change. So also in the third chapter of the third part.
The scene for the great, glorious party
There we witness a change of scene, just like in the theatre. readiness is ordered; Lights that are turned on so that the audience, briefly blinded, cannot see what is happening on stage are needed. Then: curtain up! juice please! spotlight on! (“Stand by! Blinders! Curtain up! Juice, please! Foots!”). Then we hear two military radio stations that have to communicate: “Hello! Are you Cigar shank and Wheat? – I gotye. Gobble Ann’s Carrot Cans.” Military radio communications use letters and numbers in their written form, a German example would be KS10, which is “Kilo Sierra One Zero”, company commander of the first platoon. “Parfey,” says the first speaker when identification is secured.