The Romanian language in James Joyce.
Writers such as Virginia Woolf and Joseph Conrad changed the rules of the story in different ways and for different reasons. T.S. Eliot wanted to make an epic poem out of his Waste Land. James Joyce, on the other hand, never even thought he had a story to tell.
Why did Modernists discredit the story? How did they do it that today readers feel uncomfortable when they read a fairy-tale kind of book, because stories do not happen to real people any more?
It all started with Henry James, even though his books are stories: plots deprived of endings, told in confusing ways, happening everywhere yet nowhere in particular, at an imprecise moment in time, and to so many persons at once that the reader loses track of them all. In spite of all these things, Henry James did have stories to tell, places to describe and moments in time to hold on to.
His brother, psychologist William James, invented the concept of Stream of Consciousness. (1) It was not of much help to Henry James, though. Henry James did and yet did not have the feeling that a traditional story could not reflect real life any more. He struggled to make peace with the plot, while undermining its known conventions. He tried very hard to tell a story, despite the fact that he changed many traditional rules in the process, such as the use of a clear ending: the last pages of any book by Henry James are an invitation to make up our own version of what the future might bring about.
Virginia Woolf rebelled against traditional stories openly. In her essay "Modern Fiction", written in 1919 and published in The Common Reader, she wondered: "Is life like this? Must novels be like this? (...) Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." (Woolf 1984: 160). It was Henry James, though, who fuelled her dissent before she formulated it. He dispensed with the clear ending, for instance. In books written by Henry Fielding, Charles Dickens or Jane Austen, the narrative ends with the last chapter, and the reader can do nothing about it. The author of the story always has the last word. The reader gets everything there is to know from the incidents and the dialogue.
Even John Galsworthy, that maddeningly perfect craftsman of incidents with whom not one detail was useless in the economy of the tale, felt this coming: he postponed the ending till the tired reader gave up the many volumes, and settled for an endless story after all.
Earlier fiction writers were first and foremost interested in building stories with suspense and an exemplary endings. While doing so, they also struggled to make their stories as lifelike as possible. Henry Fielding, for instance, did not tell his stories as the Bible had told them once; Dickens's irony tells us more than just the incidents we witness; Thomas Hardy often wanders into philosophy and lyricism.
Coming after a long line of novelists who mostly wrote for suspense, and cultivated the sense of an ending, Virginia Woolf (1984) uttered the first 'No' in her essay "Modern Fiction". She no longer thought, like her predecessors, that the story could be improved. She claimed the story should be dismissed from the novel altogether. She announced that fiction no longer needed 'plot'.
Interestingly, though, while claiming she had no use at all for the story, Virginia Woolf actually clung to it. Her literary education had been fed by very traditional books, which inevitably bore upon her. Consequently, the moment one has finished reading her books, which are narrated according to the technique of the Stream of Consciouness, what one remembers is precisely the plot: a sequence of incidents well placed in space and time, closely following the rule of the classical unities formulated by Aristotle in the Antiquity. The novelist's interest in the future of her heroes, her narrative training, swerved her at times from fictional experimentalism.
The traditional telling of a tale had lasted for nineteen centuries in Europe, and much longer than that in the world, if we add to it the Bible and all mythologies. It taught readers/listeners to order their experience chronologically in their minds, as divided into past, present, and future moments. This order of memory relied on the optimistic idea that any story pointed to a future, that we could order the past and the present in such a way as to get what we wanted when the time came. There was also a negative version of the future, as failure or deserved punishment.
One thing is certain: for nineteen centuries of European civilization, to which we must add thousands of years of various mythologies handed down from one generation to another, nobody objected to the narrative logic that organized time into past, present and future. The fairy-tale was the school that taught young children to view their life as a sequence, despite the fact that the past and the future did not exist as such, except in their memory and imagination. Since these stories connected the past to the future in a relationship of deed and reward, or sin and punishment, narrative chronology was a close neighbour of morality for a long time. In this view, the present either conformed and was rewarded, or sinned against common rules and was sanctioned later on.
The peak year of Modernism was 1922, when T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land and James Joyce's Ulysses were published. Modernism as a literary age preceded and followed that year by some twenty years. Henry James and Joseph Conrad had begun publishing their novels before 1900. During the modernist age, writers such as D.H. Lawrence, John Galsworthy, Katherine Mansfield, E. M. Forster, Lawrence Durrell combined conventional narration with modernist elements.
The story with a clear past and a future which the reader could not change was a way of energizing the present, of pushing it ahead. The author was sounding a warning, he was offering the reader an alternative for the future, a contingency plan. These imaginary plans for the future became part of the library which existed in every reader's memory. In time, they came to affect the reader's morals and practical decisions. This utilitarian story--governed by suspense to such an extent that one could not stop reading till one had found out the ending--could not die. This kind of story is an idealized explanation of human life. Such stories are still being written today.
Since the primitive age, stories had helped man make sense of his own existence. Why did Modernists defy this horizon of expectation? What brought about that final 'NO' uttered by Virginia Woolf, which suspended story-telling for at least twenty years? What exactly do we mean when we say that some writers gave up plot in favour of the narrative 'experiment'?
The modernist experiment came into being almost at the same time as Einstein's theory of relativity and Freud's view of the relativity of one's inner life. It made one idea very clear: neither the past, nor the future is real. One's only real possession is one's mind. Time only exists as a present moment. Our memory fabricates a story for each new present moment. The past and the future are imaginary constructs: we remember the past, we expect the future. Between 1871 and 1922, Proust went A la recherche du temps perdu, or, to use Shakespeare's words four centuries earlier, 'remembrance of things past'.
Experimentalism denies the utilitarian connection of the plot to morals, and it dismisses all advice for the future which a writer can give. There is no future. This explains why suspense and the ending of a story have become immaterial. To various degrees, writers such as James, Conrad, Joyce, Eliot, Woolf lost the optimistic feeling that the hero must be waiting for a future, as had been the case for Fielding, Dickens, or the fairy-tales.
Virginia Woolf challenged the traditional narrative logic when she declared that the compound past-present-future was a broken globe, an artificial image, "gig lamps symmetrically arranged" (Woolf 1984). Modernist writers always focus on the 'now', on the mind that thinks in the text.
There are no two Modernists alike. Most certainly, though, the idea that plot could be dispensed with was in the air sometime between 1880 and 1940. Each writer used whatever means came in handy. Two of them cast a longing look back.
One of those writers who involuntarily looked back was Virginia Woolf. She proclaimed the death of all story-telling mainly because planning incidents in view of a future, of a much awaited ending seemed pointless to her. She took refuge in the lyricism of present states of mind, but the old story still haunted her and her readers equally.
Another writer unexpectedly longing for the narrative was T.S. Eliot: the structure of his Waste Land proves his intention to write an epic poem. What came out of his longing for the story was the 'borrowing' tool which he devised.
Eliot's borrowings may have caused massive disapproval at first, but they were soon widely imitated all over Europe. He seems to have published the only piece of literature that ended with Notes written by the author himself. No critic will deal with the poem today without analysing these Notes. No publishing house ever published The Waste Land again without its Notes, despite the fact that the first edition had made many exclaim that a real poem did not need the words "This is a poem" at the end of it.
Why did Eliot keep track of all the words he borrowed from other writers in his Notes? Why did he have to borrow in the first place? Because of these borrowings, The Waste Land was called many names: from "the sacred cow" (Shapiro 1960: 35) (2) of the century to "so much waste paper" (Powell 1923) and to piece (instead of the original 'peace) (Lucas 1923) "that passeth understanding".
The reason for these borrowings was mainly narrative: if we follow his Notes to The Waste Land, we realize that he was not borrowing words, but stories, such as the myth of the nightingale, Shakespeare's story in The Tempest, Dante's Inferno, Thomas Kyd's incidents in The Spanish Tragedy (or Hieronimo is Mad Again), etc. Eliot was actually borrowing the old attitude of those authors who had a plan, and produced an orderly narrative. Despite his secret hopes, many readers, and many critics for that matter, refuse to see a story in The Waste Land.
The fact that T.S. Eliot wanted to build an epic poem definitely explains his view on Joyce. In 1923, he was introducing James Joyce's Ulysses with his essay "Ulysses, Order and Myth" (Eliot 1975). He was describing Joyce as an organizer of stories according to the 'mythical method'. He granted him the second place in the innovating race, though, after W.B. Yeats. Besides, Eliot's own poem was published in 1922 as well, so his essay implied that he had used the mythical method himself.
Eliot began his argument by announcing that the novel was dead: "It is here that Mr Joyce's parallel use of the Odyssey has a great importance. It has the importance of a scientific discovery. No one else has built a novel upon such a foundation before: it has never before been necessary. I am not begging the question in calling Ulysses a 'novel'; and if you call it an epic it will not matter. If it is not a novel, that is simply because the novel is a form which will no longer serve; it is because the novel, instead of being a form, was simply the expression of an age which had not sufficiently lost all form to feel the need of something stricter. (...) The novel ended with Flaubert and with James." (Eliot 1975: 175).
He continued by stating that Joyce was innovating the narrative: "In using the myth, in manipulating a continuous parallel between contemporaneity and antiquity, Mr. Joyce is pursuing a method which others must pursue after him. They will not be imitators, any more than the scientist who uses the discoveries of an Einstein in pursuing his own, independent, further investigations. It is simply a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history. It is a method already adumbrated by Mr Yeats, and of the need for which I believe Mr Yeats to have been the first contemporary to be conscious. It is a method for which the horoscope is auspicious. Psychology (such as it is, and whether our reaction to it be comic or serious), ethnology, and The Golden Bough have concurred to make possible what was impossible even a few years ago. Instead of narrative method, we may now use the mythical method." (Eliot 1975: 177-178).
Actually, Joyce could not care less about organizing what he had to say in a story. Writing a narrative was the last thing on his mind.
There was a close contemporary of Henry James' who could most certainly have told many stories, but, somehow, never did that fully, or rather not in the conventional way, in view of creating suspense or offering his readers a meaningful ending. It was Joseph Conrad. He died in 1924, only two years after 1922--the peak year of Modernism--, and his fiction amply proved that there were quite a number of icebergs in the literary ocean, before one of them managed to hit 'Titanic' which traditional narrative had become over the years.
If we read Conrad's Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness or Victory, the feeling is the same: whatever the story may be, it just does not come first on the list of things the writer is trying to get through to us. The beginning, the end, the places and the time of incidents matter so little. Something else prevails. It is an attitude towards fiction which Joseph Conrad shared with James Joyce. That attitude was present in Dubliners, continued with Stephen Hero, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Ulysses. It grew into open dissent from story-telling in Finnegans Wake.
Before Joyce, clear language had always been the main tool of story-telling. It was the soil out of which grew plot, hero, suspense, ending, the future of the story. Joyce and Conrad, however, left the path of common language, and migrated towards peculiar individual words. What prevailed with them was the Word. How much a Word could say --or, rather, how much a Word could suggest--became Joyce's major concern.
There are proofs to support this focus on verbal ambiguity all over Conrad's and Joyce's fiction, but not many in Woolf's books or in Eliot's borrowings. Words such as Victory (whose? when? over whom?), Darkness ("The horror! The horror!") in Conrad come so close to Joyce's "Eveline" (Joyce 1914: 42-49), for instance, with "yellowing photograph", "Damned Italians! coming over here!" and "I know these sailor chaps".
What Joyce was looking for was the perfect shortcut between thinking and the word. It 'leaps' at us, says Joyce. It swallows plot, place and time, and it mainly swallows grammatically correct sentences. Sight, hearing, idea, and emotion are merged. Joyce wrote this in Finnegan's Wake (193.10:8): "Do you hear what I'm seeing, hammet?" This communication is the swiftest carrier of thought from mind to mind.
Many critics must have thought that Modernists were trying to eat their cake and have it: it is generally counterproductive for a writer to undermine his own words as long as they are his only tools. Joyce's mind had a war to wage with all conventional tools, with the inability to think for oneself that a language often entails. This war bore the name of Finnegans Wake.
In Hamlet (II.2.193-206), Polonius says to himself: "Though this be madness, yet there is method in't."
Joyce's own 'method' has never been defined. Does anyone know why he merged letters, words, languages, place-names, person-names and so much more, into numberless non-existent--should we call them 'words'?
After all is said and done, what we are left with is the words of the writer. These words make one realize how many of them have hidden or are still hiding behind the conventional, clear language, which for long centuries has supported plot, hero, suspense, closure.
What T.S. Eliot may have failed to see in his essay on Ulysses was that Joyce turned his back on clarity, and stood all alone, on his own words. He pushed aside clear sentences and commonly used words--the fictional scaffolding of all times. He devised a language of his own. His books are paved with words that do not exist in any other language. These words are built out of the commonest, simplest syllables and meanings belonging to the 40 languages that Joyce himself listed at the end of his last book.
One of Joyce's rules was that languages, meanings, allusions of all kinds historical, musical, literary, etc.--must always have a simultaneous existence, never a successive one. The words and allusions are uncomplicated when taken separately: Napoleon, la cigale et la fourmi, Mester-Master ... It is simultaneity that amplifies them. Joyce makes up words which are the shortest way from one mind to another, and tell us everything at once.
Joyce's principle of simultaneity is obvious when we read the words that open and close his last book, Finnegans Wake:
"riverrun, past Eve and Adam's--A way a lone a last a loved a long the"
The first words quoted here are the beginning of the book. What follows is its ending. The last words written by James Joyce in 1939 lead directly to the first line of the book, which was written in 1922.
Joyce Lexicography (http://editura.mttlc.ro/Joyce%20Lexicography.html)--whose continuing series has already 105 volumes--considers Joyce's words taken one by one. We are putting in the understanding of Finnegans Wake as much 'method' as Joyce put into the 17 years he spent writing his book. Each Lexicon that Contemporary Literature Press has so far published is one face of that method.
Our series of Finnegans Wake Lexicons began with a volume that did not even bear a number. We called it number 'One' much later. While we were working on it, we thought our attempt began and ended there.
That first volume of Joyce Lexicography was the Lexicon of Romanian in Finnegans Wake (Sandulescu 2011a). No other Joycean scholar noticed that there were incredibly many Romanian words in Joyce's book. We find in the European languages words that have almost identical forms, meanings, even pronunciations. They usually have common Romance roots. Our lexicon contains, however, at least 1,000 words with specific markers, which undoubtedly came from the Romanian language itself!
In 1963, in his Concordance to Finnegans Wake, Clive Hart published a list of what he called 'syllabifications': he cut Joyce's words into segments that were meaningful to him, from an English, Germanic, Romance point of view. It was a way of forcing Joyce's words to assume a clear-cut identity, a common meaning to us all: he was trying to translate Joyce into recognizable languages, preferably English.
Clive Hart had undertaken this syllabification in order to prove that English words were the most numerous and the most important in Joyce's book: "My principal object in syllabifying has been to put on show the English words hidden away in the portmanteaux, together with some of the most obvious of the other meaningful syllables." (Hart 1963: 344). He was positive that all complicated, unusual, extant or non-existent words in Finnegans Wake triumphantly led to the English language.
Our 19 volumes of Selective Segmentation Exemplified by Romanian (4) indicated a somewhat different conclusion: each segment isolated by Clive Hart led to at least several possible Romanian words, of which some were not, but most were common to all Romance languages. Of course, Joyce's List includes more than just European languages, but, somehow, the bulk of his working syllables is Romance after all.
When we began working on the Romanian Lexicon, we deliberately brushed aside the common European words of Romance origin. There are words like animal, competent, insistent, secret, etc. on every page of Finnegans Wake. These are words that have exactly the same letters, even the same sounds at times, and also the same meaning in English as they have in other European languages. The fact that Joyce chose to use them tells us a lot about his thoughts concerning the relationship between English and other languages. The effect is that, when we read Joyce, we seem to be using a sort of universal, pre-Tower-of-Babel language, which we may never have studied or spoken, but which we can understand in an intuitive way.
Joyce's list of 40 languages, in neat handwriting, on the last page of the manuscript of Finnegans Wake has never been either published or examined so far, except on the dust cover of The Language of the Devil (Sandulescu 1987). A number of Joycean scholars--the most systematic in this respect being Helmut Bonheim in his Lexicon of the German (Sandulescu 2013)--did try to find words belonging to their own languages in Joyce's book. Joyce Lexicography identified 'Common Scandinavian' in the second FW Lexicon of our series (Sandulescu 2011b). Others tackled French, English, Irish, Italian, Hungarian, Gypsy, Slavic languages. Some of their findings are there, in Joyce's text, others may or may not be what they seem. Very much depends on who is looking for them.
At this point it is important to state that, in doing Finnegans Wake research, one works with suppositions. Whatever Joyce may have thought, whatever he may have meant to say, what words he actually knew, what people suggested what meanings to him --all these are useful suppositions, but suppositions still. Joyce's text raises questions. Our method--Fragestellung, leading directly to Heidegger--encourages readers to identify the enigmas in the text, and find their own explanations, which sometimes may take years of research.
Coming back to the enigmatic use of Romanian in Finnegans Wake, we must first explain why it has absolutely never been tackled before. In the twentieth century, most Joycean scholars were westerners. They came from parts of Europe that had no interest in Romanian words or elements of Romanian history, geography, proper names, etc. which Joyce might have known or used. On the other hand, during the same 20th Century, Romania was a francophone country, which explains why there was no Joyce research here before the fall of the Iron Curtain.
One of the authors of this article, G. C. Sandulescu, began his first Romanian Lexicon of Finnegans Wake as far back as the year 1960, but it was published for the first time only in 2011.
Contemporary Literature Press has examined many of the Joycean scholars' attempts to make sense of the literary, geographical, musical, historical, and lexical suggestions contained in various ambiguous combinations of letters (see Sandulecu and Vianu). We have also considered those scholars who claim that Finnegans Wake is a novel, that it has plot and protagonists. The position of our Manual concerning this issue is the following (George Sandulescu (2011a: 19):
"It was always very easy to get Anthony Burgess into a state of extreme agitation leading to anger. My procedure was very simple: I used to get things going by starting a discussion about Finnegans Wake. That always pleased him immensely, as all discussions about Finnegans Wake did. But, whenever I continued with the idea that, in my own opinion, Finnegans Wake was not a novel, Anthony Burgess invariably got into a state.
And, after no end of walking up and down, and all sorts of interjections and invectives, which lasted quite a number of minutes, and drinkwise extended over a number of shots of bourbon, he invariably came up with the sentence that I always was looking forward to and eagerly expecting.
That sentence was: I must prove that Finnegans Wake is a novel!
I must find the proof pointing to the fact that Finnegans Wake is a novel!
I must find the evidence that Finnegans Wake is really a novel.
Every time that was indeed the line that I expected, and to which I retorted somewhat maliciously the following way:
Which means that you have not yet got the evidence!
No, he replied, you are right, I haven't got it. But I will discover it!
His last sentence to me: Finnegans Wake must be a novel!"
The time has come to explain how the Romanian language is important in Joyce's book. This line of argument will also explain why Joyce Lexicography has hit the London literary circles, why it was recently present in the Times Literary Supplement (no 5797, 9 May 2014).
The American John Quinn, who collected Constantin Brancusi's work, also bought the manuscript of Ulysses from James Joyce, and that of The Waste Land from T.S. Eliot. Both Joyce and Brancusi were in Paris in the early 1920's. They may have met around that time. It seems their paths crossed in the summer of 1923. In his diary, Harry Crosby (1928)--an American expatriate living in Paris--mentioned seeing Joyce and Brancusi at the Theatre des Champs Elisees on 29 June 1926.
It all started, in our view, from the portraits of Joyce that Brancusi made. As owners of The Black Sun Press in Paris, Harry Crosby and his wife decided to publish a part of Joyce's Work in Progress, which Joyce entitled Tales Told of Shem and Shaun. The book appeared on 9 August 1929, with an abstract portrait of Joyce by Brancusi in it.
In a memoir published in 1953, Crosby's wife, Caresse, remembered Joyce sitting for Brancusi while he was doing the portraits, which were five in all: "Brancusi agreed to do it, Joyce agreed to sit, but it was hard to get them together and harder to get them apart!" (Caresse Crosby 1953)
In a letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver--advocate of James Joyce and editor of The Egoist--Joyce wrote: "I got on well with Brancusi (who is something of a fogey like myself, deploring modern feminine fashions, the speed of modern trains, etc., etc.)." (Gilbert 1957).
Joyce was 47, and Brancusi was 53.
Joyce himself said little about the portraits. He is reported to have stated: "His design of me will attract certain buyers." (Geist 2011). Besides that, in a letter to Valery Larbaud, Joyce mentioned 'Brancusi's whirlgig'. (qtd. in Aubert and Jolas (eds.) 1979: 70). In another letter to Miss Weaver, sent on 17 January 1932, he wrote: "When he [Joyce's father] got the copy I sent him of Tales Told etc. (so they write me) he looked a long time at Brancusi's Portrait of J.J. and finally remarked: Jim has changed more than I thought." (Gilbert 1957).
Of the five portraits made by Brancusi, one was entitled by the Romanian artist 'Symbole de James Joyce'. Brancusi himself said it expressed le sens du pousser that he had felt in Joyce (qtd. in Aubert and Jolas (eds.) 1979: 77). James Joyce, on the other hand, coined in Finnegans Wake (FW155.09:1) a word suggestive of Brancusi's first name 'constantinently'.
Three out of the five portraits of Joyce that Brancusi made have the 'whirl' in the centre. The key to the connection between Joyce and this whirl (le sens du pousser) is suggested by the cover to The Joycean Monologue, by George Sandulescu (2010). It was, as the title says, A Study of Ulysses, and it was first published by the Department of Literature, University of Essex, in 1979. The cover to this book on Ulysses had on it a whirl, which vaguely pointed to an ear in its middle, and which was surrounded by an anagram of Lisant au livre de lui meme, which points to Hamlet through Mallarme. Joyce himself translated these words in Ulysses as "reading the book of himself."(Joyce 1986: Episode 9, line 115).
Finnegans Wake is a book of himself, indeed: it is an ideal definition of the interior monologue. Here is Mallarme again, present in the epigraph of the site that hosts the whole series of FW Lexicons (http://sandulescu.perso.monaco.mc/): Tout, au monde, existe pour aboutir a un livre. Everything Joyce thought and heard and felt ended up in the book: that one book was Dubliners-Ulysses-Stephen Hero-Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man - Finnegans Wake.
We have absolutely no idea so far when, how, where Joyce and Brancusi met, and what they did on those occasions. We can imagine Joyce in a Parisian cafe with Brancusi, drinking or talking, but mainly listening. The almost blind man who had chosen writing over singing certainly used his musical ear to record in his memory everything he overheard in cafes, pubs, inns--since his afternoons were spent there more than once.
James Joyce's connections with Brancusi and Romania have not been examined so far. Our first Romanian Lexicon, published by Contemporary Literature Press on 11.11.2011, was enlarged in 2012. We are enlarging it again this year, in 2014. The fascination comes from the fact that whenever one has a fresh look at the text, one finds more Romanian words. Looking for Romanian words, while reading the whole of FW, does not help much. You only notice them when they strike you: sometimes the letters, many times the sounds.
The first time Joyce alluded to Romania was in Ulysses, where Plevna was mentioned four times: 4.63, 15.1529, 17.1425, 18.690. Plevna is closely associated with Romania's becoming an independent state in 1877:
4.63 Pity. All the way from Gibraltar. Forgotten any little Spanish she knew Wonder what her father gave for it. Old Style. Ah yes! of course. Bought it at the Governor's auction. Got a short knock. Hard as nails at a bargain, old Tweedy. Yes, sir. At Plevna that was. I rose from the ranks, sir, and I'm proud of it. Still he had brains enough to make that corner in stamps. Now that was far seeing.
15.1529 Lo! We charge! Deploying to the left our light horse swept across the heights of Plevna and, uttering their warcry Bonafide Sabaoth, sabred the Saracen gunners to a man.
17.1425 Why, firstly and secondly, did he not consult the work in question?
Firstly, in order to exercise mnemotechnic: secondly, because after an interval of amnesia, when, seated at the central table, about to consult the work in question, he remembered by mnemotechnic the name of the military engagement, Plevna.
18.690 and only captain Groves and father talking about Rorkes drift and Plevna and sir Garnet Wolseley and Gordon at Kharthoum lighting their pipes for them everytime they went out
Plevna is a meaningful word in Ulysses:
"Leopold Bloom knew about Plevna, as he had among his books The History of the Russian-Turkish War, published in London, and bearing the stamp 'The Garrison Library' at Gibraltar. In consequence, it could only have belonged to Major Tweedy himself, Molly Bloom's father. As to the Battle of Plevna (a city in Northern Bulgaria), which lasted for 143 days, from 20 July to 10 December 1877, the English maintained an attitude of strict neutrality, though the British Navy had an ample presence in the area." (Sandulescu 2011a: 38)
In Finnegans Wake, Joyce shows us in several ways that he was acquainted with the Romanian language, with its basic grammar, some of its peculiarities, with Romanian folk beliefs, with some places in Romania, and some proper names. More often than not, when he uses an approximation of a Romanian word, he builds around it a context which supports the association with Romanian. We have chosen here those Romanian words which Joyce placed in his book for a Romanian to find - words which are Romanian beyond the shadow of a doubt. In an undemonstrated way, or undemonstrated yet, these words suggest the presence of Brancusi in Joyce's mind.
We must add that, in enlarging the Romanian Lexicon with some of the following words, we were greatly helped by the Index to Alexandra Rosetti's Histoire de la langue roumaine des origines au XVIP siecle (2001). This includes words which are unmistakably Romanian, and it was a welcome confirmation of what we had found in Joyce's text.
The list of words below will prove that Joyce knew exactly what he was doing. If those interested will take the time to use the Finnegans Wake address we give (page, line, position on the line) and read the context, they will understand the full extent of our finding. Joyce made it crystal clear that he knew what he was talking about.
"... Rumanian tends to be, with Joyce, almost as important as Irish! For Irish was used for local colour. The Rumanian language, together with a few others, have been resorted to for more obscure, and more cryptic, reasons. It is the honest and sincere researcher's job to find that out." (Sandulescu 2011a: 9).
We have grouped the few examples chosen to illustrate the statements above under the following headings, which support the lines of our argument:
1. Words presumably mentioned in conversations with Brancusi, or which refer to Brancusi;
2. Words accompanied by specific markers of the Romanian language, such as enclitic definite articles, suffixes in proper family names, vocatives, diminutives;
3. Names connected with Romanian topography;
4. Romanian proper names;
5. Common Romanian phrases;
6. Random words.
Joyce's punctuation before and after these words has been preserved.
1. Words presumably mentioned in Joyce's conversations with Brancusi, or which refer to Brancusi:
038.25:1 vinars ("brandy'); 054.16:6 .Ismeme de bumbac ("men's underwear, made of cotton"); 158.19:7 Vallee Maraia [right arrow] Valea Mare: a place in Romania, not far from Targu Jiu, where Constantin Brancusi accepted the commision for three major sculptures in 1935; well known for its wines; 222.08:9 Mester ("master", "craftsman"); 386.30:3 barrancos [right arrow] Brancusi?; 420.28:2 O'Domnally ("Sir"); 518.28:2 mujic ("peasant"); 518.30:1--Da Domnuley. ("Yes, Sir"); 549.14:7 coloumba mea, frimosa mea, [right arrow] Maiastra? (cca 1911) ("My dove, my beauty"); 599.08:6 fattafottafutt. ("girl.skirt.fuck")
2. Words accompanied by specific markers of the Romanian language, such as enclitic definite articles, suffixes in proper family names, vocatives, diminutives:
049.15:8 Paul Horan; 053.02:2.3 Wildu Picturescu. [right arrow] [Rad]u [Lup]escu, Oscar Wilde + Picture; 064.25:3 Pamintul ("the Earth"); 064.32:2 Duzinascu (imaginary typical surname); 241.08:1 Collosul ("the colossus"); 244.05:9, Neomenie! ("inhumanity"); 255.15:3, procul abeat! ("drunken pig"); 230.07:7 omulette [right arrow] omule!, omulet, omleta ("little man. omelette"); 404.14:9, O romence, ("Romanian women"); 484.29:7 rumanescu ("Romanian"); 505.25:3 The form masculine. The gender feminine. [right arrow] This is the best definition of the Neuter Gender in Romanian; 518.22:10 sorowbrate [right arrow] soro + frate ("sister + brother"); 518.23:9, scusascmerul? ("excuse"); 518.24:9, Limba romena ("the Romanian language"); 518.22:8 Ruman ("Romanian"); 621.34:4 in the timpul ("during").
3. Names connected with Romanian topography:
105.26:8 Galasia like his Milchcow [right arrow] Milcov (Romanian river, the border between former Moldova and Muntenia); (Galitia included Bucovina between 1786-1849 and 1860-1861) (Bucovina: 'Tara Fagilor', 'Buchenland'); 114.04:5 Bukarahast [right arrow] Bucharest; 136.08:4 Ostrov ("island'); 158.19:7 Vallee Maraia [right arrow] place in Romania, not far from Targu Jiu, where Constantin Brancusi accepted the commision for three major sculptures in 1935; well known for its wines; 209.17:6 pruth ("the river Prut'); 403.09:3 Tegmine--sub--Fagi ("mine.birch trees"); 554.01:2, buckarestive
4. Romanian proper names:
049.15:8 Paul Horan; 053.02:2.3 Wildu Picturescu.; 064.32:2 Duzinascu; 145.32:12 Dracula's; 192.21:3 Paraskivee; 343.02:2 Draco; 358.12:8 corvinophobe; 360.13:1-6 Carmen Sylvae, my quest, my queen.; 540.21:2 ! Redu Negru may be black
5. Common Romanian phrases:
198.19:5 spate a spate. spate la spate ("back to back"); 212.26:6 Merced multe! Mersi mult! ("thanks a lot"); 215.25:5 howmulty cat de multi ("how many"); 338.13:13 But da. But dada, Ba da, ba da! ("yes, yes"); 340.23:11 drumbume drum bun ("safe journey"); 343.11:2 Attent! ("attentive"); 355.30:8 Misto ("cool"); 439.16:12 !As broad as its lung Romanian fairy-tale hero: Pasari-lati-lungila; 464.07:7 omportent man! om ("man") + important; 466.01:5 Babau and Momie! baubau + momiie ("fee-faw-fum. Scarecrow"); 555.01:7? Too mult sleepth. ("too much sleep"); 578.03:2 Oom Godd Om bun! ("good man"); 583.03:8, her dinties are chattering, ii clantane dintii ("teeh"); 598.18:3 Panpan and vinvin paine [section]i vin ("bread and wine"); 619.27:3 from cape to pede. din cap (pana) in picioare ("from head to foot"); 621.34:4 in the timpul ("during")
6. Random words
010.17:1: Ap Pukkaru! ("catch hold"); 117.12:1 jambebatiste [right arrow] (jambe+) batista (" handkerchief'); 176.36:6 somnbomnet ("good?sleep"); 180.35:10 boer constructor ("boyard. builder"); 184.29:11 his uoves, oves and uves a la Sulphate de Soude, his ochiuri ("fried eggs"); 213.30:4 ? Deataceas! [right arrow] data + ceas ("date.hour"); 219.05:2 Somndoze [right arrow] somn (+ doze) ("sleep" + doze); 241.02:4 summan, ("long thick peasant coat"); 360.27:2 , Salam! ("salami"); 365.17:5tarafs ("folk music band"); 370.13:3, oooom oooom! ("man"); 397.11:9 Mamalujo ("polenta"); 406.07:5, Margaretar [right arrow] margaritar; Margareta ("pearl", "margareta"); 455.08:10 Iereny [right arrow] ierni ("winters"); 493.31:7, Nu-Men, nu ("no") (+ men); 577.01:2, mandragon mor [right arrow] matraguna + mor ("mandrake. die")
This list of possibly Romanian words is indirectly explained by Joyce himself in the following collage of statements--all chosen from page 83, lines 10-25 of the book: "Marx my word: this is nat language at any sinse of the world. One might as fairly go and kish his sprogues as fail to certify. Remarxing in languidoily. Much more highly pleased than tongue could tell. The lexinction of life."
One interpretation of these sentences could be: "Mark my words: this is not language in any sense [+ sin] of the word. One might fairly put it aside, ignorant as we are, since it fails to certify. Remake it as language. Much more highly pleased than tongue could tell. The language of life."
These sentences explain, maybe, why Romanian is present in Finnegans Wake--a book whose translation into just one language or one meaning at a time stands no chance at all. It is a book that emerges from the simultaneity of languages and meanings. One does not 'read' Joyce's book. By means of idiosyncratic words, this book breeds thoughts that propagate at light speed.
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(1) "Consciousness, then, does not appear to itself chopped up in bits. Such words as 'chain' or 'train' do not describe it fitly as it presents itself in the first instance. It is nothing jointed; if flows. A 'river' or a 'stream' are the metaphors by which it is most naturally described. In talking of it hereafter, let us call it the stream of thought, of consciousness, or of subjective life." http://psvchclassics.vorku.ca/James/Principles/
(2) "The very worst passages are those which are merely quotes (...) The Waste Land (...) is one of the curiosities of English literature (...) ... hoax or not, it was very shortly made the sacred cow of modern poetry and the object of more pious literary nonsense than any modern work save the Cantos of Pound (...) It is, in fact, not a form at all but a negative version of form." Shapiro (1960:35)
(3) Reference to Eliot's Note 434, discussing line 433 of The Waste Land.
(4) Clive Hart's Segmentation as Exemplified by Romanian, in 19 volumes, edited by C. George Sandulescu and redacted by Lidia Vianu, Contemporary Literature Press, 2014, http://editura.mttlc.ro/FW-segmentationromanian.html
Lidia Vianu and C. George Sandulescu
University of Bucharest and Principaute de Monaco
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|Author:||Vianu, Lidia; Sandulescu, C. George|
|Publication:||European English Messenger|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2014|
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