Archive for the ‘narratology’ Category

Ladder to the Moon   Leave a comment

Working on my storytelling craft just now, I was reading Ben Haggarty’s essay, Ladder to the Moon.

Ben’s section, “The story of the night of stories”, tells of how the traditional storytelling sequence at a Catholic Wake or Veillée is ” a journey of ever increasing perspective”:

from anecdotes; to stories about common ancestors; to tales clustered around a folk hero; to legends and ghost stories. Then, as the night deadens the wonder tales begin. Ogres, beggar-guides and false mothers come into hearing. In the silence that follows the legendary ancestors are evoked suggesting “a bridge between this world and the manifest forces of fate and destiny that govern it.” Before, larger than life heros and heroines collide “with each other and the with the Gods, all driven by the chaos of an emotional life painted eternally loud and clear – and all too familiar”. Finally all shifts to the realm of the Gods. And, as thoughts of creation come to mouth and mind,  a new dawn breaks.

– History as her is harped.   1 comment


This morning I started reading Adriana Cavarero’s beautiful monograph, Relating Narrative: Storytelling and selfhood. I began with the chapter, “The Paradox of Ulysees”. Given Joyce’s progression from a novel named after this Epic hero, who cries when his story is recounted, to the Wake – where proper names slide around and phantasmagoric seances ensue, Cavarero’s discussion about naming made my eyes prick.

“The name announces the uniqueness, in its inaugural appearing to the world, even before someone can know who the newborn is; or, who he or she will turn out to be in the course of their life. A unique being is without any quality at its beginning, and yet it already has a name. The newborn does not choose this name, but is given it by another, just as every human being does not choose how to be. The uniqueness which pertains to the proper is always a given, a gift.” (19).

In the Wake, there is no gift of the proper. No History of (person X) , harped, or sung by the bard. Rather, a series of adoptions: mutating personae (x-X-XX), implicating the terrifying abandonment of others.

Night Lessons/ Sloe Reading   Leave a comment

(260.1 – 267.21)

In this passage all directions are whispered; all section “headings” are read loudly; and the footnotes are read all together at the end!

…I walked in the woods today, to practice a few forest stories for a storytelling session I’m doing tomorrow night.  Gaelic stories and the training of the seanachie (storyteller) provide a contextual background for the Wake. The stories I’m working with are from the Western Highland Tales collected and retold by Sir Fitzroy Maclean; and they show the influence of both Celtic and Norse cosmologies (Joyce similarly notes this interplay of Celtic and Norse in Irish vernacular in the section of Wake I read today, 265 – footnote 2).

With regard to the interplay between Irish and Scots Celts, the introduction to the story about Diarmid and the Great Boar in WHT, tells how “Diarmid O Duibhne’s mother was sister to the Irish hero Finn MacCoul” (33). Note, Finn MacCool is the answer to the very long squirming question number  1 in the radio quiz in Finnegans Wake (126.10-139.14).

Another link: in his general introduction Sir Fitzroy Maclean talks of the importance of the clann (children) in Scots and Norse stories; and the genealogical sense of relatedness to a patriarchal chief in both these cultures (13;15). This reminds me of how the Wake’s “narrative is articulated around HCE.

And finally to the sloes. I was delighted to find them, as I thought I’d missed out of my sloe gin making for this Christmas. But, I have a big plastic bag full of them now. Hurray! I’ve stuck them in the freezer, to burst their cell walls, before I macerate the fruit in gin. I’ve been wanting to make more sloe gin since I read that this thick “syrupy liquor” is what Blazes Boylan orders for himself in the bar of the Ormond Hotel, in the “Sirens” episode of Ulysses (254, in the Oxford edition).

I’ve never seen sloe gin in a pub myself. But, in the Lake District you can find damson gin in the public houses of the Lythe valley. I wonder how many pubs served sloe gin in Dublin, in the early 20th century? Presumably it was produced on a cottage industry scale? Doing my best crone impression, I picked mine from stunted bushes on a wind blown heath overlooking Geneva.