Wednesday, May 03, 2023

“that that that” and “had had had” in James Joyce’s “Finnegans Wake” (1939)

In James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake" (1939), a man being threatened with a pistol by a "Waylayer" (62.35) responds "that that that was the snaps for him, Midweeks" (63.8). In this evening's reading group, we first tried to parse those three uses of "that" in a row, until we thought of two things: the man is drunk (he's been drinking "snaps" or "Schnaps" on this "Midweeks" or "Mittwoch"), and if he is Humphrey Chimpeden Earwicker, the main character, then he also has a stutter. The first interpretation is confirmed in the next paragraph with "the wretch's statement that, muttering Irish, he had had had o'gloriously a'lot too much [...] to drink" (63.22-24). (Andrew Shields, #111words, 3 May 2023)

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