Joyce’s Amorous Collideorscape
Towards the beginning of the lessons chapter, the narrator describes the twins studying the “memoiries of Hireling’s puny wars” (FW 270.30-1), in which the Wake’s romantic narratives are equated to the ascent of the Roman Empire. Not only do the textbook’s descriptions of “Sire Jeallyous Seizer … with his duo of druidesses in ready money rompers and the tryonforit of Oxthievious, Lapidous and Malthouse Anthemy” shine an imperial light on HCE’s park scandal (FW 271.3-6), but similar references to Issy’s relationship with her reflection (“so bright as Mutua of your mirror holds her candle to your caudle, lone lefthand likeless, sombring Autum of your Spring” [FW 271.9-12]), the twins’ battles for Issy’s love (“the gossans eye the jennings aye” [FW 271. 18-9]), and HCE’s conquest of ALP (“Leda, Lada, aflutter-afraida, so does your girdle grow!” [FW 272.2-3]) similarly place the family’s amatory struggles in a broader light. The textbook also notes the disastrous consequences of these pursuits, highlighting the brothers’ self-destruction by arguing that “if you’re not ruined by that one she won’t do you any whim” (FW 271.15-7) and elucidating the relationship between desire and violence by contending that “it’s tails for toughs and titties for totties and come buckets come bats till deeleet” (FW 272.6-8). Thus, when the text concludes that “as they warred in their big innings ease now we never shall know” (FW 271.22-4), it places the Earwicker family’s romantic squabbles at the heart of the world’s historical conflicts, elucidating a destructive dimension to the text’s universalization of its main characters.