The Joycean Vico: A New Key
The Joycean Vico: A New Key
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter describes Vico's and Bruno's appearance in the first sentence of Finnegans Wake as “a commodius vicus of recirculation.” Vicus is Vico's Latin name, signifying a road or lane, also meaning a village or vicinity. In the Dublin suburb of Dalkey there is a “Vico Road,” which appears in Ulysses and in Finnegans Wake. The first word of Finnegans Wake is “riverrun,” recalling the nearly one thousand identifications of rivers in Joyce's work, including the Jordan. Vico is connected to the Jordan River by his first name, Giambattista (Giovanni Battista), which in English is John the Baptist, the saint who preached and baptized along the Jordan. Vico, having been born on June the 23d, was named and baptized on June the 24th, the day of St. John the Baptist.
- Here are notes. There's the key.
- One two three.
- —FW 236.11–12
The Descent into History
In the sixth book of the Aeneid, Virgil describes the descent of Aeneas into the Underworld. Aeneas has left the coasts of Troy and, after suffering the tribulations and wanderings caused by the wrath of Juno, he arrives at the Greek settlement of Cumae on the western coast of Italy, just north of the Bay of Naples. On one of the two summits at Cumae is the temple of Apollo, built by Daedalus in gratitude for his safe flight from his imprisonment on Crete by King Minos.
With his ships at anchor and his men ashore, Aeneas seeks out the cavern of the Sibyl, which could be approached through a passageway of the temple. He wishes to learn from the Sibyl, who is possessed by Apollo, where to find the entrance to the Underworld. He hopes to encounter the shade of his father, Anchises, former prince of Troy. Aeneas learns that the gate to the Underworld is not far but is surrounded by a deep wood. The Sibyl tells him that in order to pass beneath the earth he must secure a golden bough growing high in one of (p.4) the trees. The bough is to be brought to the queen of Pluto, god of the Underworld. The Sibyl says the bough can be plucked with ease if Fate is calling Aeneas to make this descent; if not, no amount of force can break the bough.
In despair of finding the single tree in the endless wood, Aeneas prays for guidance. A pair of doves, his mother's birds, appear and lead him to the golden bough, which he plucks easily. He returns with it to the Sibyl, and she accompanies him as they cross the threshold into Pluto's realm. Progressing through the scenes of the souls caught in Hades, including meeting his lost comrades and a sad encounter with Dido, who, on his departure from Carthage, committed suicide over her love for Aeneas, they arrive at the end of this fearful region. There Aeneas places the offering of the bough. They enter a land of joy and green fields. Here they encounter Anchises surveying the souls that are to pass into the light above. In this intermediate state, Anchises says, each suffers in accordance with the nature of his own spirit, the genius that accompanies a person throughout life and into the other world. Some good and magnificent souls, Anchises says, go on into the Elysian Fields, and with the turning of the great wheel of time, are reborn into the world of the living.
Anchises shows Aeneas his future—how he will marry his Italian wife Lavinia and how from this union the Trojans will produce the race that will populate Latium and Italy. He shows him the figure in Elysium who will be his last-born and will rule Alba Longa and how from this noble line will come Romulus, who will found Rome. Having inspired Aeneas with the love of fame, Anchises tells him of the wars he must wage in order to achieve it. Then he passes the Sibyl and Aeneas through the gate, back to the upper world. Aeneas rejoins his ships, the cycle of his life before him. With the Sibyl's guidance he has recapitulated his past and in the present learned his future.
In the first canto of the Divine Comedy, Dante begins the description of his entrance into Inferno. Midway in the journey of his life, Dante finds himself in a dark wood. Unlike Aeneas, he has not entered this wood purposefully but has strayed into it, as if in a dream. Symbolically this dark wood is the error of our lives, and Dante must strive to find in it the true way of Christian salvation. In the darkness he comes upon a hill illuminated by divine light, but as he attempts to ascend toward the light he is overcome by fear. His way is blocked, first by a leopard, then by a lion, and finally and decisively by a she-wolf. Symbolically the three beasts foreshadow the regions of the Inferno, in reverse order. The she-wolf (lupa) represents the sins of the flesh and the appetites; the lion (leone) the sins of violence and ambition; and the leopard (lonza) the sins of malice and fraud, the worst sins that corrupt the spirit and destroy friendship and social order.
(p.5) With his way finally blocked by the ferocity of the she-wolf, Dante can only glimpse the light of the delectable mountain (il dilettoso monte). In his despair there appears to him the shade of Virgil. Dante recognizes him as the author of the Aeneid, whom he calls his master in poetic style. Virgil offers to be his guide and suggests that Dante may avoid the beasts and achieve entrance to St. Peter's gate by an arduous and indirect route passing through the regions of Inferno and Purgatorio. Unlike Aeneas, who deliberately seeks out the Sibyl, Dante acquires Virgil's guidance unexpectedly. Dante doubts whether, as a living man, he should attempt to enter such regions. He asks Virgil why he has come. Virgil explains that he has not arrived by chance but comes at the request of Beatrice who, because of her divine love, wishes Dante to be set on the true path.
Virgil is a virtuous pagan; having been born before Christ, he cannot enter heaven. He warns Dante that he cannot escort him for the full journey. At the end of Purgatorio Virgil slips away, giving Dante into the hands of Beatrice to proceed to Paradiso. As he completes his progress through Paradiso, Dante has before him not the specific events of the second half of his life's journey but a total wisdom of things human and divine. He has grasped the beginning and the end of all things. In the last canto of the Divine Comedy he says that what he has grasped will defy the powers of language to express. Compared to what he can remember of his journey, his words, he says, will fall even more short of capturing it than would those of an infant, who can utter only expressive sounds.
In the first chapter of Finnegans Wake Joyce describes the fall of the primordial giant Finnegan and his awakening as the modern family man and pub owner, H. C. E., to be known as H. C. Earwicker and by other variations on his name, such as Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, Haroun Childeric Eggebert, Haveth Childers Everywhere, and Here Comes Everybody. Finnegans Wake is Joyce's descent into the underworld of history. It is his book of the dark, his “experiment in interpreting ‘the dark night of the soul’” (SL 327). Finnegan's fall is the fall of humanity into history, with its constant repetitions, its courses and recourses of events, and their meanings, which can be expressed only in double truths. Finnegan's descent is an abrupt fall, without any clear purpose: an act of chance, an accident. He wakes to find himself, whoever he is, in the dream of history. As Stephen in Ulysses says, “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake” (U 28.377).
For his guide, Virgil's Aeneas sought out the Sibyl, at a place just north of Naples, and he ended his voyage at Lavinium. For his guide, Dante takes Virgil himself, who, on a voyage while finishing the Aeneid, contracted a (p.6) fever at Megara, died, and was buried at Naples. For his guide in the descent into history, Joyce takes the Neapolitan founder of the philosophy of history, “Old Vico Roundpoint” (FW 260.14–15), who showed that history “moves in vicous cicles yet remews the same” (134.17–18). As Vico's metaphysical assistant Joyce takes “Bruno Nolano” (of Nola, near Naples), who, Joyce says, held that “every power in nature must evolve an opposite in order to realise itself and opposition brings reunion etc etc” (L I:226).
In Lo spaccio de la bestia trionfante (The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast), Giordano Bruno writes: “The beginning, the middle, and the end, the birth, the growth, and the perfection of all that we see, come from contraries, through contraries, into contraries, to contraries.”1 In Finnegans Wake, Bruno's title appears as “Trionfante di bestia!” (305.15). This doctrine of coincidentia oppositorum in Bruno is influenced by Nicholas of Cusa, who is presented in Finnegans Wake in terms of both Vichian corso and ricorso and Brunian contraries: “Now let the centuple celves of my egourge as Micholas de Cusack calls them,—of all of whose I in my hereinafter of course by recourse demission me—by the coincidance of their contraries reamalgamerge in that indentity of undiscernibles” (49.33–50.1). We find also “the learned ignorants of the Cusanus philosophism” (163.16–17), a reference to Cusanus's De docta ignorantia.2 Joyce's principle of contraries appears on the first page of the Wake as “twone” (3.12).
Both Bruno and Vico appear in the first sentence of Finnegans Wake as “a commodius vicus of recirculation.” Vicus is Vico's Latin name, signifying a road or lane (Italian, via, vicolo), also meaning a village, vicinity. In the Dublin suburb of Dalkey there is a “Vico Road,” which appears in Ulysses and in Finnegans Wake. A commode or chamberpot is a “jordan” (Italian, Giordano), Bruno's first name. A jordan is originally a bottle of water brought from the Jordan River by Crusaders or pilgrims, later transferred to mean a pot or vessel used by physicians and alchemists. Two of Bruno's sources are the alchemist Agrippa of Nettesheim and the alchemist and physician Paracelsus. In Ulysses there is “loosing her nightly waters on the jordan” (169.806–7). The first word of Finnegans Wake is “riverrun,” recalling the nearly one thousand identifications of rivers in Joyce's work, including the Jordan. Vico is connected to the Jordan River by his first name, Giambattista (Giovanni Battista), which in English is John the Baptist, the saint who preached and baptized along the Jordan. Vico, having been born on June the 23d, was named and baptized on June the 24th, the day of St. John the Baptist.
Joyce has his two resurrected, “recirculated” philosophers: Vico, who concludes the New Science with the assertion that its wisdom must carry with it the study of piety and who throughout the work repeats that his science is for (p.7) the glory of our true religion, and Bruno, the heretic who was burned at the stake on February 17, 1600, in the Campo de' Fiori at Rome. Joyce says: from “a jambebatiste to a brulobrulo!” (FW 117.11–12). We hear the sound of the burning faggots in Joyce's play on Bruno's name. In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Stephen records his argument with his teacher, Father Ghezzi: “He said Bruno was a terrible heretic. I said he was terribly burned” (P, 271). In the Latin passage of the classbook section of Finnegans Wake Joyce writes “Jordani et Jambaptistae,” recirculating the first letters of his own name, J. J., as the first letter of both names, using the I of Latin in its elongated form of J (the double truth of Joyce, the Catholic non-believer).
This Latin passage asks us to consider an explanation given in “the Roman language of the dead” of how “people of the past (or you dead)” and those “who are still to be born” are the stuff from which the “great races of humanity are to arise.” Joyce plays on the title of Vico's De antiquissima Italorum sapientia (1710) (On the Most Ancient Wisdom of the Italians): “Let us turn over in our minds the most ancient wisdom [antiquissimam … sapientiam] of both the priests Jordan and Jambaptista: that the whole universe flows safely like a river, that the same things which were poked (fututa is obscene) from the heap of rubbish will again be inside the riverbed, that anything recognizes itself through some contrary, and finally that the whole river is enfolded in the rival banks along its sides” (FW 287.23–28).3
Joyce merges Bruno, the philosopher of opposites, “the Nolan of the Calabashes” (336.33), with his opposite, “Saint Bruno” (336.35), the founder of the Carthusian monks and the name of a pipe tobacco. A calabash is a pipe with a curved stem, made from the calabash gourd for smoking tobacco. Joyce sets off into the dark world of history with his pious Saint John the Baptist, who as H. C. E. is a modern pub owner, pouring libations for his twelve clients, and his heretic Saint Bruno of the recirculating commode, who as the Nolan was terribly burned.
When Aeneas enters the opened cave of the Underworld, Virgil says the “ground rumbled underfoot” (Aen., VI.256). As Dante begins his descent into the Inferno he says: “A heavy thunderclap broke the deep sleep in my head, so that I started like one who is awakened by force” (Canto 4.1–3.). As the primordial Finnegan falls on his head on the first page of Finnegans Wake, there is heard the first of Joyce's ten hundred-letter thunderwords (the tenth has 101 letters), the longest words in the English language: “bababadalgharaghtakamminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk!” (3.15–17).
Finnegan falls, Humpty-Dumpty fashion, “the great fall of the offwall … the humptyhillhead of humself….” (3.18–20). In Vico's New Science, the first (p.8) appearance of Jove to the giganti, the protohumans who roam the great forests of the earth, is a thunderclap, and they invent the first act of speech by imitating its sound. In the invention of language they awake to their human nature and begin to found families and cities. On the first page of his autobiography Vico relates his own childhood fall from a ladder in his father's bookshop, which alters his naturally cheerful temperament into an adult temperament of melancholy and acerbity, typical of the meditative thinker.
The golden bough that Aeneas carries to allow his passage alive through the Underworld is terrestrial, as is the noise that accompanies his entrance—the rumbling of the earth. Dante's golden bough is his initial glimpse at the dilettoso monte that alerts him to the light of divine love. The appearance of Beatrice assures him of this love, and like Anchises with Aeneas she will escort him through the regions of paradise, where he will grasp the beginning and the end. Dante's device is the number three, the terza rima, the three parts to the comedy, each with thirty-three cantos, with each of their terzine consisting of thirty-three syllables—the three of the Trinity. Three is the number of movement. In philosophical dialectic the opposition of two terms is itself in opposition to a third, which is a term in a new opposition. In terza rima the first and third lines of a tercet are in opposition to the second, the last word of which establishes the rhyme for the first and third lines of the next.
Joyce's golden bough is Vico's providence, the divine perceived or heard within history. Joyce transforms the three ages of gods, heroes, and humans of Vico's “ideal eternal history” of corso and ricorso into a structure of four, with providentiality as the fourth—the stage of dissolution, heralding renewal at the end of a cycle. There is, for example, “thunderburst, ravishment, dissolution and providentiality” (362.30–31); or a play on Vico's three principles of humanity—religion, marriage, and burial: “intermittences of sullemn fulminance, sollemn nuptialism, sallemn sepulture and providential divining, making possible and even inevitable” (599.12–13). In a letter to his benefactor, Harriet Shaw Weaver, in March 1928, he explains the line in the passages on “the Ondt and the Gracehoper”—“harry me, marry me, bury me, bind me” (414.31–32)—as a play on Vico's terms: “harry me &c = Vico, thunderclap, marriage with auspices, burial of dead, providence” (SL 330).
Joyce's device is the number four. Instead of squaring the circle Joyce circles the square, “circling the square” (186.12). As he wrote to Harriet Shaw Weaver: “No, it's a wheel, I tell the world. And it's all square” (L I;251). This is the shape of Joyce's “vicociclometer” (FW 614.27). His model is not the Trinity but the four Gospels, “the ‘Mamma Lujah’ known to every schoolboy scandaller, be he Matty, Marky, Lukey or John-a-Donk” (614.28–30). Three is always taken up into four, either directly, as in Joyce's absorption of Vico's (p.9) three ages, or by multiplication, in his use of twelve—the twelve apostles, the twelve customers at H. C. Earwicker's pub, the twelve on the jury at Earwicker's trial, with the four judges.
Three opens time; four closes it. The two of the four always doubles itself. Joyce's coincidences are “cocoincidences” (FW 597.1). Joyce's truth is derived from Dublin. Truth is double truth—“doublecressing twofold thruths” (288.3). “Would it be in twofold truth an untaken mispatriate” (490.15–16). Joyce is always “doublin existents” (578.14). The double of Dublin is Dublin, Georgia, “by the stream Oconee” (Oconee River) on the first page of Finnegans Wake.4
The title, Finnegans Wake, is doubled by omitting the possessive apostrophe. By making it plural Joyce makes it everybody's wake, the wake of all Finnegans. Because it calls out for an apostrophe it also has the sense of a singular possessive—the Finnegan in each person. “Finn” is fine (Italian “end”), that doubles the n; “-egans” is “again,” made double with the final s. The end again. “Wake” is to be awake, alive, but is also the wake for the dead. The wake is the path left from movement, especially by a ship; it is also what is left over in its path—the flotsam and jetsam from the voyage, the heap of rubbish that is all of history and that will be enfolded in the banks of Joyce's riverbed.
Joyce's ten imitations of the sound of thunder in Finnegans Wake are an expansion of Vico's own imitation of the sound of thunder in the New Science. Vico says it is likely that “when wonder had been awakened in men by the first thunderbolts, these interjections of Jove should give birth to one produced by the human voice: pa!; and that this should then be doubled: pape!” (448). Joyce's eighth thunderword starts with “Pappa,” a double that is then doubled, “Pappappappa,” and includes “whackfall” in its spelling. On the next lines occur “Fine again” and “Peace, O wiley!” (332.5–9) (Persse O'Reilly—perce-oreille, French “earwig,” Earwicker, Vico, cf. use of pape at FW 146.8). Joyce's “doubling up” involves not just the double meanings of words but the doubling of letters in the spelling of words. The thunderword on the first page of the Wake begins with “bababa” (3.15). There are echoes of “pa” or “ba” in every one of the ten thunderwords (in the ninth, “da,” “damandamna”) (414.19). Vico says that from “pa” comes Jove's title as “father” of men and gods; it is also what the first heads of families were called. Vico is “Bappy” (277.18) (Hindustani, Bap, “Father,” Italian Babbo, “Daddy,” “Pappy,” Father Vico).
Joyce's golden bough of the thunderous sound of providence depends upon his mastery of the pun as the means for passing through the underworld of history. Finnegans Wake is Joyce's “puntomine” (587.8). Any word always has (p.10) a double meaning, each of which can further double in the course and recourse of its history. Reading both Joyce and Vico requires “two thinks at a time” (583.7). Joyce's master key of the pun is like Vico's master key of the “poetic character,” which Vico said cost him twenty years of his career to discover. A poetic character is a double truth—a particular figure of a god or hero who at the same time embodies a universal meaning that is inseparable from its particularity. Poetic characters or “imaginative universals” are rooted in Vico's conception of the “common mental dictionary” that is at the basis of all human thought and of all civil and divine things.
It is Vico's dictionary that Joyce employs to reconstruct the repetitions of humanity so that we may acquire a sense of “The seim anew” (FW 215.23) and “be on anew and basking again in the panaroma of all flores of speech” (143.3–4). Thunder is a noise that Joyce makes into a word, repeating the act that brought language itself into existence. Joyce, with Vico and Bruno at his side, plans to talk his way through history.
Joyce's Schooling in Vico
Joyce may have first come to know of Vico in the courses and conversations he had as a student of the Jesuit Father Charles Ghezzi, lecturer in Italian at University College, Dublin. Joyce learned Italian from him and acquired a good grounding in Dante. At this time Joyce discovered Bruno. He had ongoing discussions with Ghezzi on Italian literature and philosophy.5 In Stephen's journal entry concerning Bruno being terribly burned, Joyce refers to Ghezzi as “little roundhead rogue'seye Ghezzi” (P 271), similar to his “Old Vico Roundpoint” in Finnegans Wake (260.15).
About 1927, on one of the walks he took in Paris with the Irish poet and playwright Padraic Colum, discussing Work in Progress that was to become Finnegans Wake, Joyce referred to Vico in a similar fashion. Colum writes: “‘He was one of those round-headed Neapolitan men,’ Joyce told me. I forget whom he mentioned as another of them.”6 The other quite likely was Bruno of Nola, since Nola is part of the comune of Naples. In Finnegans Wake, H. C. E. and Finnegan are referred to in terms of “his roundhead staple of other days” (4.34). In his essay on Work in Progress, done in close consultation with Joyce, Beckett calls Vico “a practical roundheaded Neapolitan.”7 This characterization is intended by Beckett (and Joyce) to oppose what he (they) see as Benedetto Croce's claim that Vico disdained empiricism, and to uphold the view that the New Science is well grounded in the empirical details of history.
If Ghezzi did discuss Italian philosophy with Joyce he probably would have brought up Vico. In the standard Catholic interpretation of Vico's thought (p.11) in the late nineteenth century, Vico was regarded as the only truly Catholic Italian philosopher who could be pitted against the modern philosophers of Northern Europe, whose ideas mostly had roots in the Reformation.8 Joyce's school friend Constantine Curran reports that one of the assigned readings of Joyce's college course in 1901 was Raffaello Fornaciari's Disegno storico della letteratura italiana (Historical outline of Italian literature): “The references to Bruno and to Vico, to the intuitional and pantheistic mode of Bruno's thinking; to the indeterminate, encyclopedic sweep of mind which makes Vico, as Fornaciari says, an inexhaustible mine for future quarrying are sufficient to set an intelligence less alert than Joyce's upon inquiry.”9
In his pamphlet on the Irish theatre, “The Day of the Rabblement,” in that same year, Joyce begins with a reference to Bruno as “the Nolan.” The following year, in his essay on the poet James Clarence Mangan, Joyce may have Vico in mind in his conclusion when he speaks of being enclosed in history, of legend moving down “the cycles,” saying that “the ancient gods, who are visions of the divine names, die and come to life many times,” and that “in those vast courses which enfold us and in that great memory which is greater and more generous than our memory, no life, no moment of exaltation is ever lost.”10
Joyce left Dublin with Nora Barnacle in the fall of 1904 and after some difficulties and some luck arrived in Pola, south of Trieste, to teach English in the Berlitz School there. He began an exchange of language lessons with Alessandro Francini Bruni, a Florentine who taught Italian and was deputy director of the school. Francini says that when Joyce arrived his Italian was such that “he could understand everything and read everything.” Joyce did not speak well because he had had Italian only in school in Ireland, but Francini reports that after a year of lessons he could speak standard Tuscan Italian perfectly.11 Several months after the Joyces arrived in Pola both they and the Francinis relocated to Trieste.
Joyce may have read and digested Vico as early as 1905 in Trieste, but the precise date is uncertain.12 From 1911 to 1913 Joyce gave English lessons to Paolo Cuzzi, who was to become an eminent Triestine lawyer. The lessons consisted of conversations on various subjects, and Cuzzi, who was studying Vico in school, discovered in a conversation that Joyce had a passionate interest in Vico.13 This conversation took place when Joyce was living in via Donato Bramante, at the Piazza Giambattista Vico, an address Joyce chose deliberately.14
Croce's La filosofia di Giambattista Vico appeared in 1911. In this same year there appeared the first two volumes (vols. 4 and 5) of the modern Laterza edition of Vico's Opere, under the direction of Croce and Fausto Nicolini: (p.12) La Scienza nuova seconda and L'Autobiografia. Joyce was reminded of Vico every day, when crossing the Piazza Giambattista Vico; he was also in the middle of a Vichian renaissance.15 He knew Croce's earlier Estetica (1902), a copy of which he had borrowed from his friend in Trieste, Dario de Tuoni, and which contains an important chapter on Vico.16 In 1914, the year Joyce finished A Portrait, volume 1 of the Laterza edition appeared, containing Vico's De antiquissima Italorum sapientia (On the Most Ancient Wisdom of the Italians) that is worked into the Latin passage quoted earlier on Bruno and Vico in Finnegans Wake. If Joyce read Vico or some of Vico earlier it might have been in one of the volumes of the nineteenth-century Ferrari edition, Opere di Giambattista Vico (2d ed., 1852–54) or in the Pomodoro edition that imitated it (1858–69), or in any one of the numerous nineteenth-century single-volume reprintings of the Scienza nuova.
In the Cornell collection of Joyce's papers there are three pages of typescript that are a copy of the last three paragraphs of the Vico entry for the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1910–11), followed by passages in Italian, the source for which is probably Croce's La filosofia di Giambattista Vico (1911). The typescript was likely done near the time of the appearance of these works, during Joyce's Trieste period. The pages show that Joyce was collecting material on Vico's New Science; they do not express original views of Joyce on Vico.17
Joyce knew Jules Michelet's French edition of La scienza nuova and Vico's autobiography, which included a translation of the De antiquissima and extracts from other of Vico's works (1835). Joyce also would have known Vico's De nostri temporis studiorum ratione from its publication in the first volume of the Laterza edition and from extracts from it included in the Michelet translation (see FW 266.11–13). In his French studies at university Joyce read Michelet in 1901. Michelet had been encouraged by Victor Cousin to translate Vico. Cousin, who lectured in 1828 at the Sorbonne on the philosophy of history, including Vico's, had also encouraged Edgar Quinet to translate Herder. Herder's and Vico's ideas form the basis of Quinet's Introduction à la philosophie de l'histoire de l'humanité. Joyce quotes a passage regarding cycles of history from Quinet's work almost verbatim in French in Finnegans Wake, concerning how in history “the cities have changed masters and names” (281.4–13).
This passage is parodied four times at full or nearly full length: it is made Irish (14.35–15.11); is made to play on Romulus and Remus (236.19–32); is associated with the image of the world as originally a garden (354.22–36); and is part of his paragraph on the “vicociclometer” (615.2–9).18 Joyce had committed this passage from Quinet's work to memory and once quoted it to (p.13) John Sullivan, the Irish tenor, as they walked by the cemetery in Paris on the boulevard Edgar Quinet.19 Joyce combines Bruno and Vico with the two French philosophers of history in the passage partially quoted earlier: “The olold stoliolum! From quiqui quinet to michemiche chelet and a jambebatiste to a brulobrulo!” (117.10–12).
Joyce referred friends who wished to understand Vico but did not read Italian to Michelet's translation. In talking with Joyce in 1927 about Work in Progress, Padraic Colum reports: “Joyce suggested I should read Vico. But had Vico been translated into a language I could read? Yes, Michelet had translated him into French.”20 Instead Colum read the article on Vico in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. When Constantine Curran visited Joyce in 1921, Joyce introduced him to Vico's Scienza nuova, pointing out its importance for his Work in Progress. Joyce took Michelet's translation from his shelf and lent it to Curran, directing his attention to a passage in Michelet's introduction which says that Vico's thought is obscure and bizarre but that in a system presented in this manner there is “une grandeur imposante et une sombre poésie qui fait penser à celle de Dante.”21 In a letter of May 13, 1927, to Harriet Shaw Weaver, giving her a key to the references in a passage in Finnegans Wake, Joyce explained the idea of the Phoenix as a “symbol used by Michelet to explain Vico's theory” (SL 321).
In Trieste in 1907 one of Joyce's pupils of English, Roberto Prezioso, an editor of the newspaper Il piccolo della sera, commissioned a series of articles by Joyce on the politics of Ireland, to be written in Italian. These were gone over by Silvio Benco, a respected novelist, journalist, and literary critic in Trieste. He found Joyce's Italian needed very little correction. In fact, he and Joyce disagreed about a word, and Joyce was right. He asked Joyce if he wrote the articles first in English and translated them into Italian; Joyce replied that he wrote them directly in Italian.22 Benco also reports that years later when his wife visited the Joyces in Paris she found that the family's customary language at home was the Triestine dialect, Triestino. (The Joyces' two children, Giorgio and Lucia, were born in Trieste.)23
In 1912 Joyce passed the written and oral examinations given by the Italian government at the University of Padua to qualify to teach in the Italian school system, but he never secured a teaching position.24 Joyce was polylingual. He knew Italian and French completely. He knew Latin but never studied ancient Greek. Joyce claimed he could “speak four or five languages fluently enough [including modern Greek]” (L I:167). Joyce was fairly accomplished in Danish and German and took lessons in Flemish, Spanish, and Russian. As a young man he took some lessons in Gaelic, but his knowledge of it was limited.25 Finnegans Wake makes repeated use of words and phrases in more than sixty (p.14) languages and isolated use of many other languages, such as Maori (see the play on lines Joyce called a “Maori warcry” from a haka, a Maori posture dance, 355.16–17, 19–20) and Estonian: “But the still sama sitta” (625.27) (sama sitta, “same shit”).26
Joyce published A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in 1916. It had appeared in twenty-five installments in the Egotist in 1914 and 1915. Ulysses was published in 1922, having appeared in twenty-three installments in the Little Review from 1918 to 1929, with five installments in the Egoist in 1919. He began writing Finnegans Wake in March 1923; it was published in May 1939. Joyce died only a year and a half later, in January 1941. While he was writing this new work, the part of it known as Work in Progress appeared in seventeen installments in transition, in Paris between 1927 and 1938. In 1929 the first book appeared on the Wake (then Work in Progress), the collection of twelve critical articles: Our Exagmination round his Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress.
Joyce says, of the authors of these essays: “I did stand behind those twelve Marshals more or less directing them what lines of research to follow” (L I:283). The title is from a line in Joyce's work (FW 497.2–3). “Exagmination” is examination merged with Latin agmen (a mass of persons in movement, an army on the march, a stream). “Incamination” contains a play on the Italian verb incamminare—“to put on the right road” (the Vico road), also “round” (the Vico road “goes round and round”), and factum (what is made, Vico's principle of verum esse ipsum factum, “the true is the made”). The most original and important essay in the collection is that mentioned earlier, by Samuel Beckett, “Dante … Bruno. Vico‥ Joyce,” which is mostly centered on Vico's importance for Work in Progress. Stuart Gilbert, another person close to Joyce, emphasizes Vico's importance for Joyce in his essay “Prolegomena to Work in Progress.”
To various people who approached Joyce while he was writing Finnegans Wake and publishing it in installments, asking him how to understand it, his advice was always to read Vico's Scienza nuova. He urged Harriet Shaw Weaver to read the Scienza nuova to understand his new project, as he had urged her to read the Odyssey to understand Ulysses.27 In the key he sent her to a draft of the Wake's first page, he wrote, “passencore = pas encore and ricorsi storici of Vico” (SL 317). In October 1923 Joyce sent her some early pages of the Wake, remarking: “Perhaps the theory of history so well set forth (after Hegel and Giambattista Vico) by the four eminent annalists who are even now treading the typepress in sorrow will explain part of my meaning” (L I:205).28
Of another of their walks in Paris, Padraic Colum reports: “‘Of course,’ Joyce told me, ‘I don't take Vico's speculations literally; I use his cycles as a (p.15) trellis.’”29 Colum goes on to remark that Joyce could also connect his project to a line of Irish thinkers and artists, including the Four Masters. Joyce wrote Weaver in May 1926 that he had the book fairly well planned in his head, referring her to Lewis McIntyre's book on Bruno and then adding: “I do not know if Vico has been translated. I would not pay overmuch attention to these theories, beyond using them for all they are worth, but they have gradually forced themselves on me through circumstances of my own life. I wonder where Vico got his fear of thunderstorms. It is almost unknown to the male Italians I have met” (L I:241).
One of these circumstances was Joyce's own fear of thunderstorms. The day before Joyce was to meet Pound at Sirmione on Lago di Garda there was a great storm. Joyce wrote Weaver, “In spite of my dread of thunderstorms and detestation of travelling I went there bringing my son with me to act as a lightning conductor” (L I:142). Joyce left Holland during a pleasant sojourn in the summer of 1927 to escape a spate of thunderstorms (L I:256), and, after finishing Finnegans Wake, he rejected Beckett's suggestion of pursuing a teaching position in Italian at the University of Cape Town, at which there was an opening, because he had heard of the prevalence of thunderstorms there.30
Joyce's comment to Colum about using Vico's cycles as a trellis appears casual but in fact is clever and precise. A trellis is a structure of lattice work for support of climbing plants. It is also possible to speak of “a trellis of interlacing streams.” Etymologically, “trellis” is a fabric of coarse weave, but specifically trilicius (Vulgar Latin) is “woven with triple thread.” “Trellis” has within it the notion of three (tres). Joyce indeed uses Vico's cycles for all they are worth, merging them with his own terminology, adding a fourth, and so on.
Joyce restudied Vico to write Finnegans Wake. He said that with Finnegans Wake “the construction is quite different from Ulysses where at least the ports of call were known beforehand” (L I:204). In March 1925, when writing Work in Progress, he wrote Weaver while suffering with his failing eyesight, “I should like to hear Vico read to me again in the hope that some day I may be able to write again. I put an advertisement in the Mail for a reader but got not even one reply though I have often seen advertisements from Italians in it” (L III:117–18). In 1940 he wrote Jacques Mercanton to ask him to get a copy of a book on Vico of which he had heard (L III:480). It was H. P. Adams's Life and Writings of Giambattista Vico, the first study written in English on Vico since the early and very good study by Robert Flint, Vico (1884), a work which Joyce likely knew: “A chip off the old Flint” (83.10).31 In discussing Work in Progress with Joyce, Mercanton brought up Michelet's Vico. Joyce told him, “I don't know whether Vico's theory is true; it doesn't matter. It's useful to me; that's what counts.”32
(p.16) The Danish writer Tom Kristensen asked Joyce for help to understand Work in Progress. Joyce referred him to Vico. Kristensen asked, “But do you believe in the Scienza Nuova?” Joyce answered, “I don't believe in any science but my imagination grows when I read Vico as it doesn't when I read Freud or Jung.”33 Joyce's remark, putting Vico before Freud and Jung, was not casual. Freud thought he had discovered a “new science.”34 Because Finnegans Wake is Joyce's book of the night and involves the sense of the dream, many readers and interpreters have presumed that Joyce was applying the ideas of dream interpretation and psychoanalysis to literature, even that Joyce was writing in a stream-of-consciousness fashion. As early as his conversations in Trieste with Cuzzi, who was reading Freud's Five Lectures on Psychoanalysis, Joyce remarked that Freud had been anticipated by Vico.35
In the Wake Freud and Jung are combined into one person: “yung and easily freudened” (115.22–23); “Jungfraud's Messongebook” (460.20–21). In a letter to Weaver from Zurich in June 1921, Joyce writes of people trying to get him to enter a sanitorium “where a certain Doctor Jung (the Swiss Tweedledum who is not to be confused with the Viennese Tweedledee Dr Freud) amuses himself at the expense (in every sense of the word) of ladies and gentlemen who are troubled with bees in their bonnets” (L I:166). In a discussion of “Sexophonologistic Schizophrenesis” and “semiunconscience” we find “Tung-Toyd” (123.20). Regarding Freud there is also “freudzay” (337.7) and “freudful mistake” (411.35). Regarding Jung there is “the law of the jungerl” (268.F3), “young girl” (perhaps a reference to Joyce's daughter Lucia, whom Jung unsuccessfully treated), but also Kerl (German, “guy,” chap).
Joyce wrote to Weaver in November 1926, on drafting what was to be the first page of Finnegans Wake, that he was reading Anita Loos's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1925) (L I:246). Joyce must have enjoyed the pages on “Dr. Froyd,” who “was very very surprized at a girl who did not dream about anything” and who “talked to his assistance quite a lot in the Viennese landguage.” She concluded, “So then Dr. Froyd said that all I needed was to cultivate a few inhibitions and get some sleep.”36 In Finnegans Wake there is “landeguage” (478.9–10) and “Are we speachin d'anglas landadge or are you sprakin sea Djoytsch?” (485.12–13) (are we speaking English [d'anglais] or are you speaking Joyce? [Sprechen Sie Deutsch?]).
Joyce claimed he got his conception of internal monologue from Édouard Dujardin's novel Les Lauriers sont coupés. Richard Ellmann writes: “In later life, no matter how diligently the critics worked to demonstrate that he had borrowed the interior monologue from Freud, Joyce always made it a point of honor that he had it from Dujardin.” As Ellmann reports, Dujardin claimed he based his conception of monologue on a sentence of Fichte: “The I poses itself (p.17) and opposes itself to the not-I.”37 In a conversation Joyce had in the 1930s with the Zurich publisher Daniel Brody, regarding Jung's negative attitude toward Joyce's work, he said: “People want to put me out of the church to which I don't belong. I have nothing to do with psychoanalysis.”38 Joyce developed his own language of the dream, “dreamoneire” (FW 280.1); he did not take it over from psychoanalysis.
In Our Exagmination the essays make no mention of Jung and there is one dismissive comment on Freud that occurs in the essay by William Carlos Williams, who says of Joyce: “It is a new literature, a new world, that he is undertaking. Rebecca West, on the other hand, has no idea at all what literature is about. She speaks of transcendental tosh, of Freud, of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, of anything that comes into her head.”39 Of the article Jung wrote on Ulysses in 1932, Joyce wrote in a letter: “Did you see Jung's article and his letter to me. He seems to have read Ulysses from first to last without one smile. The only thing to do in such a case is to change one's drink” (L III:262).40
For Joyce a sense of humor was crucial. When Kristensen asked him, in the conversation mentioned above about Vico, whether it would be good to proceed by working out the multilingual puns, Joyce said, “Perhaps it would help,” but he smiled doubtfully. He said, “Now they're bombing Spain. Isn't it better to make a great joke instead, as I have done?”41 Joyce signs his letter accompanying a key to a draft of the first page of the Wake sent to Weaver “Jeems Jokes” (SL 316). As the Ballad of Tim Finnegan says: “Lots of fun at Finnegan's Wake.” When Heinrich Staumann, professor of English at the University of Zurich, asked Joyce how to approach Finnegans Wake, Joyce told him to read Vico and advised him to approach it not in terms of research into place-names or historical events but to let the “linguistic phenomena affect one as such.” Staumann observed that in their conversation Joyce presented his opinions “with a certain light objectivity … almost more like a philosopher than an artist.”42
In 1940, after the publication of Finnegans Wake, Joyce wrote to Mercanton about the reception of the book. There were only a few, odd reviews; Joyce quoted from one in a Roman journal: “‘Seeing that the whole book is founded on the work of an Italian thinker’ …?” Joyce included the ellipsis marks and question mark as a literary shrug of his shoulders, as if to say: Is it not obvious that the book is founded on Vico? He said the response to Finnegans Wake was “a complete fiasco up to the present as far as European criticism is concerned” (L III:463).
Joyce's works can be seen as a series making up one work. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has two prominent Vichian elements. The first element is the sense in which the central figure, Stephen Dedalus, fits the mold of one of (p.18) Vico's “poetic characters” in the age of heroes. In A Portrait, one of Stephen's friends says: “You have a queer name, Dedalus” (23). Stephen Dedalus, originally “Stephen Hero,” is a particular figure growing up in Dublin, but he is also an imaginative universal of Western culture.
One-half of his name is Saint Stephen the protomartyr, the Hellenistic, Greek-speaking Jew stoned for his claim that Christ was the prophet announced by Moses, and one of the most popular saints of the Middle Ages. The other half is Daedalus the artificer, exiled from Athens and denied return lest he reveal the secret of the labyrinth he constructed for King Minos of Crete to conceal the Minotaur, the half-beast, half-man born of the white bull and Pasiphae, wife of Minos. Daedalus made wings so he and his son, Icarus, could escape by air. Icarus flew too near the sun and melted the wax on the wings, causing him to plunge to his death in the sea. Daedalus flew on, to arrive at Cumae in Italy, where he built the temple of Apollo of the Sibyl. In the hero of A Portrait the four terms out of which Western culture is constructed are brought together: in Stephen the Judeo-Christian; in Daedalus the Greco-Roman. These four are united in Joyce's conception of the artist.
The second Vichian element occurs at the end of the book, as Stephen says: “I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race” (P 275–76). Vico's coscienza (Latin conscientia) has the meaning of both conscience and consciousness; it might best be rendered “witnessing consciousness.” It contains all the certains (certi) of the world, all that is studied by philology—the customs, deeds, and languages of all peoples at war and in peace. Vico says “the true is the made.” The artist is a maker, who must forge in the smithy of his soul all that there is in the human race, including the artist's particular race, the Irish: “A race of clodhoppers!” (P 272). The details of Vico's coscienza must be made into the trues of his scienza (Latin scientia). “Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead” (P 276). The artist is an artificer, Daedalus, but in him is also the possibility of Icarus. The artist is a double of Western culture and a double of himself in the way that the son is a double yet an opposite of the father.
This view of the artist at the end of A Portrait is in contrast to the Thomistic conception of aesthetic philosophy that Stephen examines earlier in the book—the definition of beauty in terms of integritas, consonantia, and claritas (P 227–31). Joyce does not pursue beauty as the ideal of art; he pursues the conscience of the race in his own conscience: memory, history. If he retains anything of this discussion it is the Scholastic sense of “quidditas, the whatness of a thing” (P 231). The artist can show the thing in its particularity but also forge its meaning in the conscience of the race. The artist must create what (p.19) language first creates. The view of language in A Portrait is Vichian in that it begins in the song of baby tuckoo (the name for the infant Joyce). As Vico claims language is first sung, Joyce later wishes to tell the “Singalingalying. Storiella as she is syung” (FW 267.7–8).
Joyce's attraction to the Renaissance figure Bruno, with his dialectical sense of opposites, frees him from the rigid distinctions and classifications of Thomistic thought. Joyce makes this point in his youthful review of J. Lewis McIntyre's book Giordano Bruno. He says certain parts of Bruno's philosophy can be put aside because they are “so fantastical and middle aged” (tied to the Middle Ages).43 In his earlier pamphlet “The Day of the Rabblement,” Joyce uses Bruno to establish the artist's independence from the standard understandings of things derived from politics and religion: “No man, said the Nolan, can be a lover of the true or the good unless he abhors the multitude; and the artist, though he may employ the crowd, is very careful to isolate himself.”44
The rabblement, the race of clodhoppers, are Ibsen's “trolls,” the enemies of art. In “Et Vers” Ibsen wrote, “To live is to war with the trolls.”45 Joyce does not leave Bruno behind, but as he develops toward Finnegans Wake he needs not just a doctrine of opposites but a full philosophy of history. He merges Bruno, his original philosopher of protest, into Vico: “You mean Nolans but Volans (FW 488.15); “Nolans Volans” (558.18); “nolens volens” (Latin: willing or unwilling, willy-nilly); “a nuhlan the volkar” (357.17); “Till Nolans go volants and Bruneyes come blue” (418.31); “Mr. Browne, disguised as a vincentian, who, when seized of the facts, was overheard, in his secondary personality as a Nolan and underreared” (38.26–28). But throughout the Wake Bruno remains the master of opposites, “alionola equal and opposite brunoipso” (488.9), even within his own identity, his “egobruno,” “Bruno at being eternally opposed by Nola” (488.10–11). Vico remains the master of the cycle, which is “whorled without aimed” (272.4–5) but which “annews” (277.18).
Joyce's Ulysses has its references to Vico's name in “Vico Road, Dalkey” (U. 20.25) and “Dr Tibbie's Vi-Cocoa” (519.805–6). Many of the Vichian allusions are in the “Nestor” episode, where the subject is history, and in the “Cyclops” episode, with the cave and giants theme. The structure of Ulysses is cyclical, and this general feature of the work suggests the cyclical pattern of Vico's conception of history. But there are many doctrines of cycles, and this connection to Vico would appear only to someone familiar with the role of Vico in Finnegans Wake. One sees it by looking backward.46
The most obvious Vichian feature of Ulysses is its relation to the theme of the third book of Vico's New Science: the search for and discovery of the true (p.20) Homer. Vico claims that Homer is the ancient Greek people themselves and that Homer's works are their conscience. Vico's ability to demonstrate this by the principles of his science and his “new critical art” is a proof of its validity. Joyce in Ulysses (both Joyce and Vico use the Latin name for Odysseus) can in literary terms achieve a similar accomplishment. He can reveal the coincidence of the present in the past: present-day scenes and characters repeat the “ports of call” of Homer's Odyssey. The true Homer is in the conscience of the race, not just in the work of Homer the ancient author. Having demonstrated this in Homer, Joyce can carry this method of juxtaposition to its limit in Finnegans Wake. Here not simply is the past in the present, but the entire art of the Muses, to sing of what is past, present, and to come, is woven into one song that can proceed backward or forward so that all is in motion in a whole, like language itself.
Joyce told his close friend Frank Budgen that “imagination is memory.”47 In the philosophical proofs for the true Homer in the Scienza nuova Vico says: “La memoria è la stessa che la fantasia” (“memory is the same as imagination”) (819). “Memory thus has three different aspects: memory [memoria] when it remembers things, imagination [fantasia] when it alters or imitates them, and invention [ingegno] when it gives them a new turn or puts them into proper arrangement and relationship. For these reasons the theological poets [the makers of the first myths] called Memory the mother of the Muses” (ibid.). Joyce, with Vico as his guide, invites the reader: “This way to the museyroom. Mind your hats goan in!” (FW 8.9).
Of all the books at the Wake, Vico's New Science is the crucial book. This has not been realized in previous Joyce interpretation. Joyce's “night-maze” (411.8) is connected to the “night of thick darkness” in Vico's New Science (331). Its principles are the trellis on which the Wake is based. The novelist and Joyce writer Anthony Burgess says: “What Joyce found in Vico was what every novelist needs when planning a long book—scaffolding, a backbone.”48 Joyce puts not only Vico's New Science into Finnegans Wake; he puts Vico himself into the book.
Adaline Glasheen, in her Third Census of Finnegans Wake, notes the similarity between Vico and Tim Finnegan, both of whom fell from a ladder, broke their skulls, and came to life again. She calls attention to Joyce's above-quoted statement to Harriet Shaw Weaver that Vico's theories in the New Science gradually forced themselves on him through the circumstances of his own life. Glasheen says: “Unfortunately, knowledge of this work has not forced itself on (p.21) Joyceans, who by and large read it in an abridgement which omits much that matters in Finnegans Wake; and I find it generally supposed that The New Science is little more than an almost invisible scaffolding which encloses Finnegans Wake and is unnecessary to an understanding of Finnegans Wake. I don't agree, and direct the reader (for starters) to Samuel Beckett's essay in Our Exagmination.”49
Vico is certainly the maker of the scaffolding of Finnegans Wake that is clearly visible for those with eyes to see. Joyce has deliberately adopted it and adapted it. Part of his adaptation is to place Vico himself in its bracing. Joyce both re-erects Vico's formation of history and resurrects Vico as its fabricator. Joyce accomplishes this on the first page of the Wake, which echoes the first page of Vico's Autobiography. Vico is present both by name, vicus, and by theory, in the circle that the flow of water makes from the Liffey that runs past the church of Adam and Eve into Dublin Bay, circulating down to Bray and up to Howth at its northern extremity, and also in the circle of the first sentence beginning in the middle, with “riverrun,” the second half of the sentence that breaks off on the last page.
As I shall discuss at length in the next chapter, Vico introduces himself in his autobiography as a child who was in constant motion, “impatient of rest” (impaziente di riposo). Vico is “riverrun.” According to the proposal sent to Vico for the format of the collection of autobiographies, of which his was to be a part, he should have described his parents and family background. Instead he presents them only as a mother and a father, “upright parents who left a good name after them.” They are just parents, an incarnation of Eve and Adam, the parents of the human race.50 In the second paragraph of the Wake Joyce incorporates another reference to “vicous cicles” and another reference to Vico's name. As I mentioned above, in the key sent to Weaver he explains “passencore rearrived” (“passencore = pas encore and ricorsi storici of Vico”) (SL 317). After this there is “mishe mishe to tauftauf” (3.9–10) (Gaelic mishe, “I am”; German taufen, “to baptize,” Giambattista); “I am, I am, to baptize.” Recall that Vico was born on June the 23d and baptized the next day. “Tauftauf” is the sound of the baptismal water.
The third paragraph begins with “the fall,” followed by Joyce's first hundred-letter thunderword. In it, along with many thunderwords from various languages, is the combination of thunder in Italian and English “tuonnthunn” (tuono, Italian; “thunder,” English), the two languages combined in the title “Finnegans.” The thunder announces the fall from the ladder by the hod-carrier Tim Finnegan in the Irish ballad from which Joyce takes his book title. It is the Vichian thunder of the New Science that stirs the giganti to form the first word: Jove. It is also the fall of H. C. E., the sleeping giant of the land on which Dublin (p.22) lies, that appears in Joyce's first paragraph as Howth Castle and Environs. In his fall in the Ballad of Tim Finnegan, Finnegan fractures his skull but is awakened at his wake by the smell of whiskey. The roundheaded Vico fractures his skull but survives by God's grace.
Joyce's title of Finnegans Wake, incorporating the awakening of Tim Finnegan, makes a cycle within Joyce's literary career, from first to last, in that his first publication was a review of Ibsen's When We Dead Awaken (1900). This interest in the dead juxtaposed to the living is in “The Dead,” the most famous short story of Dubliners, and runs throughout Joyce's career.51 Joyce told Frank Budgen there were many resurrection stories but the ballad of Tim Finnegan was the one most suited to his purpose.52 In When We Dead Awaken, the focus of the play is on its main character, the sculptor Rubek, and the meaning of his greatest work, a monumental group entitled “Resurrection Day.”
Joyce takes two ideas from Vico. One, as Joyce states it, is ricorsi storici, that all in history, all in the human world, repeats itself, that everyone is someone else—“you and I are in him” (FW 130.34). Joyce understands that the human comedy is always recoursed, that there is no progress. If anybody is everybody, nobody is anywhere in particular, yet anyone is in some way at all places at once and also at one place. Joyce saw what so many of Vico's past and present commentators never saw—that there is a master to the show—Vichian providence. Providence is always there, behind the appearances that are, like a river, always in motion. This causes Joyce to make a fourth age in Vico's three ages: “providentiality”—“providencer's divine cow to milkfeeding mleckman, bonafacies to solafides” (337.5–6).
Providence is also one of Bruno's central concepts, which he sees as a companion to truth. For Bruno, as for Vico, providence is both liberty and necessity. When reflected in the individual, it is prudence. Providentiality is the gap between corso and ricorso, what can only vaguely be witnessed at any time. Providence is not an ideal toward which events progress. Providence is ever present for those who can perceive its signs. Joyce understood that the important part of Vico's theory of history is not the idea of cycle (which is found in Plato, in the Renaissance, and throughout Eastern thought) nor the principle that “men make history”; the important point is the role providence plays in the making of the cycle.
Another of Vico's ideas important for Joyce is the conception of language and the way that its origins are bound up with poetry and myth. Joyce saw that the key to the human world is language. All human institutions depend upon language, as does all knowledge of them. Humans are naturally poetic. Until Vico's giants acquire the power of poetry they cannot humanize themselves.
(p.23) The capitalized marginalia of the classbook, Night-lessons section (L I:406), which states most of the central principles of Vico's New Science by parodying Vico's terminology, begins with UNDE ET UBI, “whence and where,” then sic, “in this way.” This is followed by Joyce's statement of the principle of Vico's “poetic characters” or “imaginative universals”: “IMAGINABLE ITINERARY THROUGH THE PARTICULAR UNIVERSAL” (FW 260). This principle is connected through the principle of “CONSTITUTION OF THE CONSTITUTIONABLE AS CONSTITUTIONAL” (261) (poetry becomes a basis of social organization) to “PROBAPOSSIBLE PROLEGOMENA TO IDEAREAL HISTORY” (262) (Vico's “ideal eternal history”). These lead to “PANOPTICAL PURVIEW OF POLITICAL PROGRESS AND THE FUTURE PRESENTATION OF THE PAST” (272) (the ricorso).
The way to realize this interpretation of history is to grasp words and languages as structures of human memory. Joyce finds this sense of memory in Vico's conception of philology as based in the connections between the root meanings of words and the origin of human institutions. Vico, like Joyce, makes these connections not simply etymologically but also in terms of the associative implications of words. In his wordplay Joyce is constructing a puzzle not for the sake of a puzzle but to bring the reader to a consciousness of what Vico calls the “common mental dictionary or vocabulary,” the inexpressible language of humanity itself that every language in its own particularity is expressing.53
Fundamental to both these ideas is that imagination is memory. Joyce remembers, imitates, and arranges what is whence and where in history. To be simply in the present is to forget that it has a past and a future that will recapitulate the past. Finnegans Wake, like Vico's New Science, is a memory theater containing all that there is in the human world; the human is what stands between the natural and the divine. Joyce realizes that the truth of this human world is comic, a joke, an irony, just as the Ballad of Tim Finnegan is humorous, a “grand funferall” (111.15–16), “finfin funfun” (94.19). Joyce has succeeded in the rarity that Umberto Eco in The Name of the Rose states as the need “to make truth laugh” (fare ridere la verità).54
Vico is Joyce's guide in this descent into history, but behind both Joyce and Vico is Dante—“the divine comic Denti Alligator” (FW 440.6). References to lines in the Divine Comedy run throughout Joyce's works, based in Joyce's remarkable mastery of Dante.55 “My trifolinum libretto … Acomedy of letters!” (FW 425:20, 24). “I swear to you by the notes of this comedy” (Inf. canto 16.127–28).56 Vico calls Dante the Tuscan Homer because he is the poet who stands to the ricorso of Western history as Homer stands to its corso. Each summarizes and preserves the first two ages—theological and heroic—of their cycle and is on the brink of the third—the secular, purely human age. (p.24) Vico wrote a fragment on Dante that suggests a parallel to his discovery of the true Homer in the third book of the New Science.57 Joyce penetrated Dante's descent and cycle in order to penetrate Vico's. Dante's comedy embodies the Christian doctrine of hope and resurrection beyond history. Joyce's comedy is based on resurrection in a joke, a joke connected to the divine vision of providence in history, “Devine Foresygth” (290.10–11).
Vico is the protagonist of Finnegans Wake. He is Earwicker. “Wick” is a row of houses, or village, and is derived from the Latin vicus, Vico's name. Vico is also the vicar, both in the sense of the custodian of divine knowledge and as the representative of the divine on earth—the agent of providence, the vicar of history. Vico is “the producer (Mr. John Baptister Vickar”) (27). G. B. Vico is H. C. Earwicker. The initials of Earwicker can be derived from Vico's initials by cycling one letter forward in the alphabet, thus: G. → H. and B. → C. Vico's initials are renewed from Earwicker's by recoursing one letter backward. Vico is vic or “old vic” (62.6) → wick. “W” is a double “v.” The “v” is pronounced as “w” in classical Latin (vicus, pronounced “weekus”). Earwicker is Vico's name in English. We can hear Vico in “Earwicker.”
In part 3, Joyce merges the identities of Vico and H. C. E. Vico becomes H. C. E.'s middle name:
- —Hail him heathen, heal him holystone!
- Courser, Recourser, Changechild . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
- Eld as endall, earth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. (481.1–3)
Vico is the courser and recourser, the child of change. He is also the changeling, the child of circumstances left by fairies in the cycles of history. Joyce continues, “I have your tristich now; it recurs in three times the same differently” (481.10–11). Each of the three lines of this tristich (group of three lines of verse) begins with one of the initials of H. C. E., which also recalls each of Vico's three ages: “—Hail him heathen” is the appearance of Jove to the giants of Vico's first age; the middle is Vico, as if he were a heroic figure of the second age; Eld is old age (Norwegian), the decline of the third age. In the recourse each age recurs “the same differently.” All comes “from the human historic brute, Finnsen Faynean” (481.12–13). Ossian was son of Finn. We are all the offspring of the primordial giant, Finnegan. “We speak of Gun, the farther. And in the locative. Bap! Bap!—Ouer Tad, Hellig Babbau, whom certayn orbits assertant re humeplace of Chivitats Ei” (481.19–21).
“Babbau” when pronounced is the Italian “Babbo,” daddy. H. C. E., the father of us all, appears as “humeplace,” Saint Augustine's De Civitate Dei, and “Ei” (German, egg). Vico is the father of our historical mentality, the (p.25) founder of the philosophy of history, Augustine's “great city of the human race,” the phrase that Vico echoes throughout the New Science. Vico is “dadaddy again” (496.28).
Earvico is the one who hears the thunder, who hears the presence of providentiality in history. Vico has the ear for it, “for you cannot wake a silken nouse out of a hoarse oar” (154.9–10); “there's no-one Noel like him here to hear” (588.27–28); “the old hayheaded philosopher … old Earwicker” (47.1, 15) in the Ballad of Persse O'Reilly; “the ear of Fionn Earwicker” (108.21–22); “Ear! Ear! Weakear!” (568.26); “Earwicker, that patternmind, that paradigmatic ear, receptoretentive as his if Dionysius” (70.35–36). Vico has the mind that finds the providential patterns and the paradigmatic ear to hear them. Like “Dionysius's ear,” the chamber in Dionysius's palace in Sicily through which he could overhear what his enemies were saying, Vico can hear the murmurings in history that others cannot. Vico can hear and see what others cannot. Vico is “earsighted” (143.9–10).
Earwicker is also associated with language. Earwicker is connected to earwig, the insect that was thought to crawl into ears. An earwig in its archaic meaning is a gossip and an eavesdropper (“earwigging” is to circulate private talk). Gossip is language that circulates and often trades on the coincidence of events that it reports. Joyce's Vichian ear hears everything; in Finnegans Wake all meanings of language are circulated and recirculated.
Stephen Dedalus was Joyce's imaginative universal of the four traditions of Western history. H. C. Earwicker is the imaginative universal of all humanity, the particular pub owner of Dublin and the universal everybody, “Here Comes Everybody”; “Haveth Childers Everywhere.” Joyce introduces H. C. E. with a Vichian phrase, “a pleasant turn of the populace,” and characterizes him as a particular universal: “which gave him as sense of those normative letters the nickname Here Comes Everybody. An imposing everybody he always indeed looked, constantly the same as and equal to himself and magnificiently well worthy of any and all such universalisation” (32.17–21). Anthony Burgess says: “The name ‘Earwicker’ does not seem to exist in real life. I have made a hobby to look for it in the telephone directories of all the towns I visit, but I have not yet found it, though Earwaker is often there—six times, as I remember, in the London directory.”58
“Ear” is time as “wick” is place, “ever here and over there” (382.23). “Ear” is a play on “year” or “D'y'ear?” (Do you hear?). Year and place: whence and where (unde et ubi). Our sense of time physiologically is dependent on constant, small sound variations in the ear, not on sight. The visual experiences of time, the passages of day and night, the turning of the seasons, are secondary (p.26) to the constant fluctuations of sound on the ear. Persons who become completely deaf (stone deaf, deaf as a post) can suffer difficulties with the sense of time passing because of the disappearance of sensitivity to these sound variations. Vico has heard and reproduced the thunder, which Joyce remembers, imitates, and arranges into ten different forms so that we readers or listeners can hear, if we have ears to hear. “Loud, hear us!” (258.25). The thunders, being composed of thunderwords from various languages, are mnemonic devices to allow us to contact the common mental language. As Joyce intended, the writing in Finnegans Wake is not just to be seen but to be read aloud. It is a “soundpicture” (570.14), “a halt for hearsake. A scene at sight” (279.9–280.1). When we put it in our ear we catch much more of its associations. “What can't be coded can be decorded if an ear aye sieze what no eye ere grieved for” (482.34–36).
Joyce often associates principles of the New Science with plays on Vico's name, or he simply plays on his name. There are plays just on “wick”: “Eelwick” (134.16), “wicker” (108.23), “Stick wicks in your earshells” (435.19), “wick's ears pricked up” (83.6), “the wickser in his ear” (311.11); plays on “vic”: “the old vic” (62.6) (also the London theater), “Old Vickers” (330.13), “victimisedly victorihoarse” (472.21), “because avicuum's not there at all” (473.6–7), “V.I.C.5.6” (495.31) (the New Science has five books and the corso and ricorso have a total of six ages, and within an age Vico also speaks of six phases; see axiom 66); “six vics odd” (82.27), “victis poenis hesternis” (596.6–7) (“yesterday's punishments having been overcome,” there is a return), “the ubideintia of the savium is our ervics fenicitas” (610.7–8) (Dublin's motto: “Obedientia civium urbis felicitas”—Citizens' Obedience Is City's Happiness).
Vico is both vicar and viker: “watchouse in Vicar Lane” (84.18–19), “Vikens” (331.20), “our friend vikelegal” (131.22), “Viker Eagle” (622.8) (the eagle being the sign of Jove, Vico's Jupiter Tonans), “Vikloefells” (626.18), “Vikloe vich he lofed” (375.33), “murrmurr of all the mackavicks” (101.33), “Sheem avick” (188.5), “she vicking well knowed them all heartswise and fourwords” (279.F20–21), “The victar” (349.25), “the aboleshqvick” (302.18), “Shattamovck?” (354.1–2), “from livicking on pidgins'” (463.28), “he confesses to all his tellavicious nieces” (349.28), “the vicar's joy” (596.20), “me and my Riley in the Vickar's bed!” (495.17) (“The Ballad of Persse O'Reilly” [44.24–47.29], as mentioned above, perce-oreille, French “earwig,” Earwicker), “vicariously known as Toucher ‘Thom’ who is. I suggest Finoglam as his habitat” (506.28–29), “the producer (Mr. John Baptister Vickar)” (255.27).
(p.27) Viker is similar to Viking, as Earwicker was one of the Scandinavian invaders of Dublin. Vico is both the vicar and the Viking, the stability of the divine order in history and the instability of the political order. Vico via Earwicker also has associations with authority in the sense of viceroy, the king's representative, “Vikeroy” (100.5). H. C. Earwicker is spoken of “throughout his excellency long vicefreegal existence” (33.30–31); “his viceregal booth” (32.36); “viceking's graab” (18.13); “vicemversem” (384.27); “vicereversing” (227.19); “viceuvious” (570.5–6); “he was made vicewise” (286.29). The truth of Vico's authority (auctoritas) is made in history and can convert to its opposite, “Viceversounding” (355.10).
There are plays on the Vico road: “their Vico's road” (246.24–25), “Vicarage Road?” (291.18), “The Vico road goes round and round to meet where terms begin” (452.21–22), “Vicus Veneris” (551.34), and “the viability of vicinals if invisible is invincible” (81.1) (“vicinals,” derived from vicinus, neighboring; vicinal roads as distinguished from highways). Roads are connected to circles: “closed his vicious circle, snap. Jams jarred” (98.19) (“Jams jarred” = James Joyce); the vicious circle was closed because it was “scrapheaped by the Maker” (98.17) (that is, by Providence), “moves in vicous cicles yet remews the same” (134.16–17). “We drames our dreams till Bappy returns. And Sein annews” (277.17–18). “Now, to be on anew” (143.3).
There is “Dr. Tipple's Vi-Cocoa” (26.30–31) taken over from “Dr. Tibble's Vi-cocoa” in Ulysses (Vico is a doctor of Triple, Doctor Threes; here also is one of Vico's first interpreters, Vincenzo Cuoco); “Jambaptistae” (287.24) and “as Jambudvispa Vipra foresaw of him” (596.29–30) (from Sanskrit “vipra,” wise); “promptly tossed himself in the vico” (417.5–6); “Noo Soch Wilds and from Vico” (497.13); “disguised as a vincentian” (38.26); “some navico, navvies” (179.19); and “Nearapoblican” (172.23) (the Neapolitan).
Two especially rich passages in which Joyce expands on his theme of Vico are, first: “Teems of times and happy returns. The seim anew. Ordovico or viricordo. Anna was, Livia is, Plurabelle's to be” (215.22–24). Ordo in Latin is to set in order, as Ear-Vico's “patternmind” has done. Vi ricordo is Italian for “I remember you” (vi = you in the second person familiar plural) or I remember Vico (vi = Vico). In addition to Vico, Joyce also has specific reference here to the Ordovician rocks near Dublin and to the “Ordovices” (51.29), an ancient British tribe in North Wales. Anna Livia Plurabelle is identified with the power of the Muses to sing of what was, is, and is to be. As Vico's or H. C. E.'s wife, A. L. P. is Memory, the mother of the Muses. This passage is echoed in “Themes have thimes and habit reburns. To flame in you. Ardor vigor forders order. Since ancient was our living is in possible to be” (614.8–10).
(p.28) The two sons of H. C. E. and A. L. P., Shem and Shaun, are the twins of Bruno's opposites, the Irish forms of the names James and John, who take on and exchange identities throughout Finnegans Wake. In one of these Joyce is “Shem the Penman” (125.23) and Joyce's brother John Stanislaus is Shaun, the Post, the less clever of the two. Joyce is “Jim the Penman,” the notorious nineteenth-century English barrister so called for forging £100,000 worth of checks. Jim the Penman is making up literature from the litter of history, opposite Shaun the postman. Latin pinna is “feather” and “pen” and “fin” = Finn. Post (a stake set in the ground) and postman are from the Latin postis. Shaun is stolid.59
The second passage is in the fourth book, in which Vico and all of Joyce's themes concerning Vico are capsulized in a single paragraph that is also a single sentence, prefaced by the word “Forget!”
“Our wholemole millwheeling vicociclometer, a tetrado-mational gazebocroticon (the ‘Mamma Lujah’ known to every schoolboy scandaller, be he Matty, Marky, Lukey or John-a-Donk), autokinatonetically preprovided with a clappercoupling smeltingworks exprogressive process, (for the farmer, his son and their homely codes, known as eggburst, eggblend, eggburial and hatch-as-hatch can) receives through a portal vein the dialytically separated elements of precedent decomposition for the verypetpurpose of subsequent recombination so that the heroticisms, catastrophes and eccentricities transmitted by the ancient legacy of the past, type by tope, letter from litter, word at ward, with sendence of sundance, since the days of Plooney and Columcellas when Giacinta, Pervenche and Margaret swayed over the all-too-ghoulish and illyrical and innumantic in our mutter nation, all, anastomosically assimilated and preteridentified paraidiotically, in fact, the sameold gamebold adomic structure of our Finnius the old One, as highly charged with electrons as hophazards can effective it, may be there for you, Cockalooralooraloomenos, when cup, platter and pot come piping hot, as sure as herself pits hen to paper and there's scribings scrawled on eggs” (FW 614.27–615.10).
The four authors of the “Mammalujo” (379.3, 11) are joined with Joyce's four-term transformation of Vico's three ages, and this is joined with Joyce's fourth but partial parody of Quinet's passage on the cycles of history, which is joined with the theme of the hen who first creates literature by scratching up a letter from litter, in the early part of the work. History is the great “Dirtdump” (615.12) from which all that is in memory is returned, “being hummus the same roturns. He who runes may rede it on all fours” (18.5–6). This includes the coursings and recoursings of the identities of Shem and Shaun—Cain and Abel, Shem and Ham, “Yem or Yan” (yin and yang) (246.31). As Joyce plays on H. C. E. and Earwicker, and thus the figure of Vico, all the way through (p.29) Finnegans Wake, so he plays, on page after page, on the combination of the four ages, the central idea he adapts from Vico's thought.
In the last lines of Finnegans Wake Joyce writes: “My leaves have drifted from me. All. But one clings still. I'll bear it on me. To remind me of” (628.6–7). In the last canto of Paradiso Dante says: “Thus in the wind, on the light leaves, the Sibyl's oracle was lost” (canto 33. 65–66). Earlier, in the Wake, there is “m'm'ry's leaves are falling” (460.20). In the Aeneid Virgil has Aeneas be warned that the Sibyl records her prophetic verses on leaves arranged and stored in her cave: “But when at the turn of the hinge a light breeze has stirred them, and the open door scattered the tender foliage, never does she thereafter care to catch them, as they flutter in the rocky cave, nor to recover their places, nor to unite the verses; uncounselled, men depart, and loathe the Sibyl's seat” (III. 448–52). Forewarned, Aeneas obtains the Sibyl's instruction to seek the golden bough directly through her oral statement.
Dante, at the end of his journey, has grasped the wisdom of divine love. Joyce is on the last leaf of his book, but he is still in history, as his last leaf reminds him. “Yes” (628.8) (the affirmation and last word of Ulysses). “Carry me along, taddy, like you done through the toy fair” (628.8–9). “Tad” (father in Welsh) recalls the end of A Portrait: “Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead” (P 276). “If I seen him bearing down on me now under whitespread wings like he'd come from Arkangels, I sink I'd die down over his feet, humbly dumbly, only to washup” (628.9–11). The fate of Icarus is “to washup” in the wake; more piety, more “worship” of his father could have caused Icarus to heed his advice not to fly too near the sun.
“Yes, tid” (tid is Danish for time)—or, “Yes, kid.” “There's where” (whence and where, Earwicker's time and place, the unde et ubi that begins Vico's conception of history). “Far calls. Coming, far! End here. Us then. Finn, again! Take. Bussoftlhee, mememormee!” (628.13–14) (“far” is Danish for “father”). The end is near. It is a repeat of other ends; the end again, but softly: me memormee (Greek mneme) (cf. 527.3, 21, 24), “remember me,” spoken by a child.
Memory is what acts against the end, which comes about through forgetting. “Forget, remember!” (614.22). “Mememormee” echoes the “mishe mishe” on the first page of the Wake (3.9), and “Eccolo me!” (462.67) (Italian, “here he is, me!”). How to be remembered in history? “The keys to. Given” recalls Dante's Paradiso, “that ancient father of Holy Church [St. Peter] to whom Christ entrusted the keys of this beauteous flower” (canto 32.124–26). The two fathers, Daedalus and St. Peter, hold the keys to heaven.
Then the sentence that encircles the book: “A way a lone a last a loved a long the / riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and (p.30) Environs” (628.15–3.3). And we are at the beginning again, “the last of the first” (111.10). Finn again!
Vico is the inheritor of Latin thought and Italian humanism, with their interests in civil wisdom, law, memory, rhetoric, and poetic; of the speculations of the Renaissance forerunners of modern naturalism Giordano Bruno and Tommaso Campanella; of the mathematical and experimental science of Galileo Galilei, Robert Boyle, and Isaac Newton; of the Epicureanism of Pierre Gassendi and the rationalism of René Descartes and Thomas Hobbes; of the encyclopedias of knowledge of Giulio Camillo and Francis Bacon, and of the biological and medical researches of the Neapolitan Academy of the Investigators of Tommaso Cornelio and Lionardo di Capua.
Vico's major work was published in three editions: Principj di una scienza nuova intorno alla natura delle nazioni per la quale si ritruovano i principj di altro sistema del diritto naturale delle genti (1725) (Principles of a new science concerning the nature of the nations by which are found the principles of another system of the natural law of the peoples); Cinque libri di Giambattista Vico de' principj d'una scienza nuova d'intorno alla comune natura delle nazioni (1730) (Five books of Giambattista Vico of principles of a new science concerning the common nature of the nations); and Principj di scienza nuova di Giambattista Vico d'intorno alla comune natura delle nazioni (1744) (Principles of new science of Giambattista Vico concerning the common nature of the nations). This 1744 third printing is the 1730 edition as it was being revised and republished by Vico at the time of his death in 1744. The 1725 edition is commonly called the Scienza nuova prima. The 1730/1744 edition is commonly called the Scienza nuova seconda. This second version, which is more than 250 pages longer than the first, is what is commonly meant by those writing on Vico when referring to the Scienza nuova. It was this second version that Joyce read in Italian and was the basis of Michelet's French edition.
Vico comes to us through a series of four resurrections. The first of these is the nationalist Vico of Vincenzo Cuoco, the result of the failure of the Neapolitan revolution of 1799. There was a continuous Vico tradition in economics and political theory, going back to Vico's pupil Antonio Genovesi, who held the first European chair of political economy at Naples. This tradition involved Vico's friend Celestino Galiani, who corresponded with the leaders of the French Enlightenment, and his nephew Ferdinando Galiani, who wrote a treatise On Money, using Vico's argumentation against the social-contract theory of the origin of society.
(p.31) Gaetano Filangieri, in Science of Legislation (1780–85), attempted to join some of Vico's views with Montesquieu and the Encyclopaedists, who debated the views of Nicolas Antoine Boulanger as to whether history follows a progressive or a cyclical course. The jurist Mario Pagano was influenced by Boulanger and by Genovesi in his Political Essays and was famous both in Italy and abroad for his work on criminal procedure.60 Vico's influence also entered Neapolitan jurisprudence through his pupil Emanuele Duni, whose Essay on Universal Jurisprudence uses Vico's philosophical-philological approach to connect law to the customs of civilized society and the development of society.
Cuoco laid the groundwork for Vico to become more than a figure in the tradition of the Neapolitan jurisconsults and to make him a leading influence in the Risorgimento. Cuoco took as his guide in his study of Vico the French reactionary Joseph de Maistre.61 In his Essay on the Parthenopean Revolution of 1799 (1801), Cuoco used Vico to distinguish the elements of Italian national unity from those of the French Revolution, which had wrongly guided the Neapolitan patriots in their failed revolution. Cuoco followed this with his Plato in Italy (1803–6), in which he uses Vichian thought for a grander, imaginative expansion of his themes. Vico's resurrection, by Italian patriots, gave impetus to the publication of new editions of his works, beginning with one of the Scienza nuova at Milan in 1801. The Scienza nuova became the book of the Risorgimento; its ideas, understood in these terms, were carried to England by Ugo Foscolo, Gioacchino de' Prati, and Giuseppi Mazzini, and to France and Belgium by Giuseppi Ferrari and Vincenzo Gioberti.62 Vico became a national and international figure, known for having a doctrine of the nation and of the “common nature of nations.”
Vico's second resurrection is as a philosopher of history. He became part of the creation of the French philosophy of history in the nineteenth century. Jules Michelet discovered Vico while conceiving of a history of civilization formulated from the languages of various nations. When the Neapolitan revolution scattered its participants to France, Victor Cousin introduced Michelet to one of these Neapolitan exiles, Pietro de Angelis, who gave Michelet a copy of the Scienza nuova and put the French philosophers of history in touch with his friends in Naples. Of his encounter with Vico, Michelet wrote: “1824. Vico. Effort, infernal shades, grandeur, the golden bough” and “From 1824 on, I was seized by a frenzy caught from Vico, an incredible intoxication with his great historical principle.”63 The French Revolution, having played a role in the resurrection of Vico to the status of a national figure in Italy, was also a cause of his resurrection in France.
Romanticism, which began in England and Germany at the end of the eighteenth century, spread to France, and with it, for historians and scholars of (p.32) letters, came the romantic interest in the past, in myths, legends, and national spirit. There was a turn to feeling, imagination, and irrationalism as a reaction to the critical and rationalist views of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. This interest in the past, in a historical sense, led to a global interest in history, which revolved around the French Revolution of 1789, around questions concerning why such events happen and what they mean for the future of a nation and for the condition of humanity in general. Against the rationalist lack of interest in the past, based on a doctrine of progress and on an interest in only its enlightened periods, on which Voltaire focused, is a sense of rediscovering the freshness of the past, its reality, and the lessons it holds.
This interest in the value of the past in relation to the present brings about what Michelet calls its “resurrection.”64 Into this atmosphere appear both Vico and Herder, translated by Cousin's young colleagues, Michelet and Quinet, as I mentioned earlier. It became popular to discuss Vico's and Herder's views of history together. In 1827 Michelet published his translation of Vico's Scienza nuova under the title Principles de la philosophie de l'histoire. Pierre Simon Ballanche published the first section of his Essays on Social Palingenesis, declaring Vico “one of the most penetrating minds that ever existed.”65 Teodoro Simone Jouffrey published an article entitled “Bossuet, Vico et Herder” in the Globe. The following year Cousin took up these three figures in the eleventh lecture of his course on the history of philosophy, delivered at the Sorbonne before audiences of two thousand.
Michelet's translation was reissued in 1835. At the time of his first edition Michelet also wrote a substantial account of Vico's life and work for the Biographie universelle.66 In the 1835 Oeuvres choisies de Vico Michelet included a translation of Vico's autobiography and extracts from Vico's other works and letters. In his Histoire de la république romaine (1831) Michelet claims that all the works of modern literary and historical scholarship exist already in Vico's Scienza nuova: “All the giants of criticism are already contained by, and comfortably lodged in, the small pandemonium of the Scienza nuova.”67 In 1869, reflecting on his own work, Michelet wrote: “I had no master but Vico. His principle of living force, of humanity creating itself, made both my book and my teaching.”68
The third resurrection of Vico comes in the early years of the twentieth century, in Naples again, through Benedetto Croce and Fausto Nicolini. There was a continuous tradition of interest in Vico's doctrine of poetic wisdom and his connection of poetry to language, but Croce transformed this along the lines of his own interest and brought it forward in 1902 in his Esthetica, translated into English in 1909 (Aesthetic: As a Science of Expression and General Linguistic). The chapter on Vico gave Vico prominence in the modern (p.33) study of aesthetics. In 1911 Croce published his La filosofia di Giambattista Vico, translated by R. G. Collingwood in 1913. Like the previous resurrections of Vico, the third also stimulated new editions of his work. In 1911, as I mentioned earlier, the first modern critical edition of Vico's Opere appeared, guided by the exact scholarship of Nicolini and published by Laterza.
Croce saw Vico as the Italian Hegel. The basis for this approach was laid by the Hegelian idealism of Francesco de Sanctis and Bertrando Spaventa. Spaventa, in his Italian Philosophy in Its Relations with European Philosophy (1862), saw Vico as the precursor of Kant and Hegel, a “Kantian before Kant,” as Giovanni Gentile put it.69 The Italian reception of Hegel, whose philosophy dominated European thought in the latter half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, was the national homecoming of a form of thought that had already existed in Vico. Although Hegel never read Vico, in 1948 Croce wrote a piece imagining a visit of a Neapolitan scholar to Berlin in the last months of Hegel's life. In their conversation Hegel is introduced to the thought of Vico by his visitor, who interests him in the similarity of Vico's thought to his own, and after the visit Hegel is found quoting Vico to himself.70
In this third resurrection Vico is made to exit his own century and enter the next. On this interpretation, Vico, seen as the founder of historicism, requires an adjustment that takes him from his own place in history and moves him forward. The price paid for this aberration is that Croce misses, in his interpretation, the truly original sense of Vico's discovery of the universale fantastico, the “imaginative universal,” and views it as an inadequate formulation of the Hegelian Begriff or “concrete universal,” which is a product not of the imagination (fantasia) but of reason (Vernunft).
Croce wrote on Vico extensively, not just in his book on Vico's philosophy but also in numerous essays and studies. His interpretation is in many ways admirable; it is focused closely on Vico's works. It is much more than a programmatic reading of Vico into Hegelianism. Croce began a period of Hegelian interpretation of Vico that finally was broken by scholars like Pietro Piovani. Piovani says: “Croce finds in Vico ‘the very concepts, the metaphors and turns of phrase of Hegel’ and notes their singularity, ‘inasmuch as the German philosopher did not know the earlier phenomenology, conceived a century earlier in Naples under the title of the New Science.’ Then Croce concludes: ‘It almost seems as if the soul of the Italian and Catholic philosopher had transmigrated into the German, to reappear, at the distance of a century, more mature, more conscious.’”71
Having been resurrected as a nationalist by Cuoco, and as a philosopher of history by Michelet, Vico was resurrected as a philosophical idealist by Croce. (p.34) In this third awakening Vico emerges not simply as a philosopher of history but as a philosopher per se, whose ideas are original and run the full course of philosophy. It was not until after the mid-twentieth century that Vico began to be widely apprehended in terms that were different from those set in motion by Crocean-Hegelian idealism. The resurrection that followed came from thinkers who were outside or largely outside the Italian idealist tradition from the start.
The fourth resurrection of Vico has occurred in our own day. It begins with the indefatigable efforts of Giorgio Tagliacozzo to establish Vico's importance for various fields of thought.72 His project to commemorate the tercentenary of Vico's birth generated the collection of essays Giambattista Vico: An International Symposium (1969). This was the first truly prominent collected volume on Vico's thought in English, bringing together an array of distinguished scholars from many fields. As I stated earlier, the important full interpretations of Vico that preceded this volume in English were Robert Flint's Vico (1884) and H. P. Adams's The Life and Writings of Giambattista Vico (1935). This resurrection, like the previous ones, was accompanied—in this case, prepared—by new editions of Vico's works.
This renaissance in Vico studies, which became worldwide, spreading from West to East, was made possible by the translation into English of Vico's New Science in 1948, preceded by the translation of his Autobiography in 1944, by the Italianist Thomas Goddard Bergin and the philosopher Max Harold Fisch. Their translation of the New Science was begun on Capri in 1939, in contact with Croce at Naples.73 Once available in English, Vico's major work could become available to many readers throughout the world. The Chinese translation is made from the English translation. Translations of Vico's other works into English have followed as the current renaissance developed, and now all of Vico's major works are available in English.
A large step in Vico's fourth resurrection was his entry into the world of the history of ideas and the humanities generally in Isaiah Berlin's Vico and Herder (1976).74 Berlin reopened in new terms the comparison that had stimulated the French interest in Vico more than a century earlier. These new terms focused on Vico's theory of knowledge as the key to his originality and showed, against Croce, that Vico's conception of fantasia involved a new conception of knowledge. In advancing his view of Vico, Berlin could rely on what he called, in the preface, “the admirable translation of Vico's Scienza Nuova by Professors T. G. Bergin and M. H. Fisch.” Berlin's book was preceded by Leon Pompa's Vico: A Study of the “New Science” (1975), which was the first book in English in our time to bring Vico into academic philosophy.75
(p.35) In Italy there has been continuous Vico scholarship, much of it historical and philological. Vico has been separated from the dominance of Crocean and Hegelian idealism by a line of new interpretations, going from Piovani, who founded the Bollettino del Centro di Studi Vichiani, to Nicola Badaloni's widely read Introduzione a G. B. Vico (1961),76 to Gianfranco Cantelli's Mente corpo linguaggio (1986),77 and to the many writings of Andrea Battistini and his two-volume edition of Vico's Opere (1990), which includes extensive commentary with up-to-date references.78
In the last three decades of the twentieth century more works appeared on Vico's thought in Italian, English, and other languages than in any other period of its study. Vico's views have been interpreted by hermeneuticists, phenomenologists, pragmatists, idealists, Marxists, structuralists, comparativists, historicists, christologists, semioticists, cognitive psychologists, and postmodernists.79 Citations to Vico are to be found in Jacques Derrida's Of Grammatology,80 Michel Foucault's The Archaeology of Knowledge,81 Jürgen Habermas's Theory and Practice,82 Hans-Georg Gadamer's Truth and Method, which makes important use of Vico's conception of rhetoric and sensus communis,83 and Alasdair Maclntyre's After Virtue and other of his works.84 Max Horkheimer's Habilitationschrift contains a chapter on Vico's conception of history,85 and Karl-Otto Apel's Die Idee der Sprache in der Tradition des Humanismus von Dante bis Vico has a long chapter on Vico's conception of language.86 In these ways, and through many books and hundreds of essays on aspects of Vico's thought, Vico's ideas have gained attention in all the fields of the humanities and social thought.
Vico has entered contemporary literature at several different points. Vico is part of the theme of A. S. Byatt's novel Possession87 and is the subject of Borges's “The Immortal” in Labyrinths.88 Vico and Vichian themes are prominent in the work of Carlos Fuentes, especially Terra Nostra and Christopher Unborn.89 A paragraph summarizing Vico's views appears in Salman Rushdie's novel The Ground Beneath Her Feet.90 Harold Bloom, in The Western Canon, has organized world literature in terms of Vico's three ages and their modification in Finnegans Wake.91
To put these resurrections in Joyce's terms, Vico as nationalist is “eggburst.” He bursts upon the scene of politics as part of the Rinascimento. Vico as philosopher of history is “eggblend,” blended with the romantic worldview and with the interest in history of Cousin, Michelet, and Quinet. Vico as philosophical idealist is “eggburial.” He is interred by Spaventa, Croce, and Gentile in Hegelianism, to the point that Vico is even aufgehoben from his own century. Vico in his fourth resurrection is “hatch-as-hatch can.” In essay (p.36) after essay he becomes Vico and you-name-it (Here Comes Everybody); his ideas appear connectable to every modern thinker and every modern movement. Vico is the man for all theoretical seasons.
This fourth resurrection is good in the way that the earlier resurrections are good. Vico is not forgotten, and he appears as something for the age. These introductions of Vico into the movements of contemporary thought have caused a worldwide renaissance in Vico studies, but they run the risk of making Vico fit their own measure. Because Vico speaks to issues at the basis of modern thought he easily seems to be a contemporary. The risk is that of Vico's second axiom of the New Science: “Whenever men can form no idea of distant and unknown things, they judge them by what is familiar and at hand” (122).
Each of the three earlier resurrections presents Vico as a single figure, to be understood in a single set of terms. He has an identity. In the fourth resurrection Vico has fallen into the twentieth century, “the humptyhillhead of humself,” “humbly dumbly, only to washup” in a wake of pieces of himself. The pieces follow the modern fragmentation of knowledge and culture that do not make a whole—what Cassirer, who called Vico “the real discoverer of the myth,” saw as the “crisis in man's knowledge of himself.”92
Outside the academy and its interests, Joyce is the most important figure to have resurrected Vico in the twentieth century.93 Because Joyce came at Vico directly, with the intent to use his theories for all they were worth, connecting Vico to no work but his own, Joyce accomplished something extraordinary that no academic interpretation can offer. Joyce's interest in Vico was tied only to his own interest in capturing the principles of humanity in his imagination and putting pen to paper. Joyce, like Vico, swore allegiance to no teacher. Each followed no school but his own. Joyce believed in no science, but he let Vico affect him, and found Vico in the circumstances of his own life. He was not sure if Vico's theories were true but used them anyway. Joyce was not interested in interpreting Vico, only in taking what he needed, and in so doing he developed the only free-standing, magnificent presentation of Vico to date.
Vico did not have a truly formative influence on any other major figure of the contemporary world. Marx has a long footnote to Vico in the thirteenth chapter of Capital, but he came to Vico with his ideas already formed.94 Samuel Taylor Coleridge was the first prominent English disseminator of Vichian ideas.95 He quoted Vico in Theory of Life in 1816 (pub. 1848), and from 1825, when he received a copy of the Scienza nuova, until his death in 1834 he had a continuing interest in Vico. He found in Vico a kindred spirit. But Coleridge also came to Vico late. His chapter “On the Imagination, or Esemplastic Power” in the Biographia Literaria (1817) is based on Kant.
(p.37) W. B. Yeats came to an interest in Vico in the last decade and a half of his career. In 1924 he read and annotated Croce's Philosophy of Giambattista Vico in R. G. Collingwood's translation of 1913. Yeats could not read Italian; his knowledge of Vico is from Croce and from Gentile's Fascist interpretation of Vico, which he acquired secondhand and adopted while sojourning in Italy in 1925.96 He refers to Vico in A Vision, connecting him to Oswald Spengler's Decline of the West; in his introduction to his Swiftian play, Words upon the Window-Pane, he compares Jonathan Swift's views of history and society to Vico's. In On the Boiler he remarks on Vico's principle that “we can know nothing that we have not made,”97 and his principle of making may play a role in Yeats's later poems.98 Vico had a real importance for Yeats, but Vico does not enter his work in the way it enters that of Joyce.99
Joyce's friend Louis Gillet wrote: “Of course, it is no longer a question of Time and Space in this indivisible duration where the absolute reigns. These two comrades, who did their cooking for so long on the scrap-iron stove of Kantian categories, find their pot knocked over by a kick from James Joyce. Their soup is spilled out—chronology disappears and all the centuries are contemporary.”100 In Ulysses Stephen remarks: “Maeterlinck says: If Socrates leave his house today he will find the sage seated on his doorstep. If Judas go forth tonight it is to Judas his steps will tend. Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves” (U 175.1042–46). “As who has come returns” (FW 382.28).
Vico was Joyce's guide in his descent into history that begins with Daedalus's flight, moves through the journey of wily Ulysses, and ends in the fall and rise, the whence and where, of Finnegan. My aim in considering Vico and Joyce together is not to create a comparative study but to use Joyce as a key for the comprehension of Vico, to see if the Humpty-Dumpty pieces of Vico can be put back together again. Joyce is a great writer, and Finnegans Wake is one of the great works of Western literature. If Dante is the Tuscan Homer, Joyce is the Hibernian Homer, in this case not standing at the line dividing the heroic and the human but attempting to recover the heroic and its origins in an age already beset by Vico's “barbarism of reflection,” the rational and technological structuring we experience of all areas of life.
It is useless to approach Joyce's Vichianism in the sense of a standard interpretation of Vico. Joyce's approach calls for the speculative comprehension of Vico, to “spy out” Vico in his work. To enter into Vico's place requires that his work be remeditated and renarrated. To make it our own we must “tickle the speculative” and find Vico “redivivus” (FW 50.13, 15). Joyce confronted Vico (p.38) as another great thinker and decided for himself what were the elements of Vico's greatness, in order to resurrect this greatness as a basis for his own great project. Anything we look for might be found in the Wake.101 Most of Western culture and a great deal outside it is there. Shakespeare as well as Dante and Swift are to be found throughout the Wake, as are references to Budge's edition of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the Koran, Buddhism, Confucianism, and the Upanishads. But Vico is not just one among a number of things we find: Vico is continually there as a base, a guidepost. We turn a page, we round a corner, and there is Vico, meeting us again, delivering his views.
Glasheen is correct that Joyceans have not found the bearing that Vico has on Joyce because they do not really know Vico's works. Those Joyceans who have connected Vico and Joyce have studied Vico only to the degree they felt necessary to formulate their discussions. The focus of most of these discussions is on Vico's doctrine of ideal eternal history, which Joyceans quickly conceive of as a general doctrine of “cycles” and little more, in some cases even speaking of Vico's “four ages,” not realizing that it was Joyce who added a fourth.102 No one with a full and precise knowledge of Vico has gone through each page of the Wake to establish what Joyce actually did do with Vico, how Vico has forced himself off on him and how Joyce used Vico for all he is worth. It is unimaginable that Joyce, with the interest he had in Vico and the agility he had for incorporating aspects of other works in his own, would attach blinders to himself and, ignoring Vico's other writings all around him, look only at the Scienza nuova.
Joyce and Vico are a coincidence of Bruno's contraries. Joyce the poet found his identity through Vico the philosopher, and vice versa the identity of Vico can be found through Joyce. Finnegans Wake is an auditory book of sounds in the night of the soul. Joyce attempts to have the reader hear what is in memory, in the mind's ear, “the mar of murmury mermers to the mind's ear” (254.18). Sound is the province of the poet. “Ear! Ear! Not ay! Eye! Eye! For I'm at the heart of it” (409.3–4). Philosophy since Socrates, since the large and small letters of the Republic and its Myth of the Cave, is based on sight. This difference of sight and sound is part of the contrariety of the poet and the philosopher. Philosophy struggles to be musical, whereas the poet comes to this naturally. The poet makes the story as it is sung. The philosopher struggles to make reason tell a story. Vico breaks with philosophical tradition to make reason come from what he hears. The mind's ear, not the mind's eye, is at the heart of self-knowledge.
In applying Joyce to Vico there are four things to keep in mind in Vico's thought: providence, the hero, memory (which includes language and law), and contraries (which he shares with Bruno). All of Vico's thought approached (p.39) though Joyce is founded on the epiphany of thunder, from which come language and its connection to falling. “First we feel. Then we fall” (FW 627.11). Falling involves resurrection. Vico falls and arises throughout his autobiography, and the great city of the human race does the same throughout the Scienza nuova. Language naturally carries its original sense of double truth, of universal and particular. When this bond of doubleness begins to separate, expression becomes monologic and barbaric and a new fall is near.
Memory, when carried to its fullest, is at the basis of words and things, overcomes the fixity of time and place, and turns the causal sense of the progressive order of events into a circle of coincidences. All contraries are married to each other, not in a chaotic way but in patterns. We enter into worlds that are not obvious in our own conscious present. They are the ones we enter every night, in the world of sleep, to awake each morning, our daily Easter. The world awake stands to sleep as the living to the dead, and the reverse. Memory is “The keykeeper of the keys of the seven doors of the dreamadoory” (377.1–2).
The heroic and the providential, which are tied to memory and to rise and fall, are central to a sense of the world that has the past and future in the present—that follows the Muse's song. The heroic stands between the past and the future, bringing together what was and pointing the way toward what is to come. The providential is the presence of a truth, a permanence beyond the present comedy that keeps the present from being just a folly of events. The sense of comedy, which in philosophy emerges as irony, keeps thought honest, always showing that there is more hidden in events than appears on their surface. As the heroic generates piety, the comic, when it turns the world upside down, generates wonder at what is beyond the understood and finished. The fall that is in all events generates the melancholic temperament that Joyce and Vico share because the things of the human world of history are never what they seem. They can never be fully mastered by reason.
(1.) Giordano Bruno, The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, trans. Arthur D. Imerti (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1964), 90–91.
(2.) Nicholas Cusanus, Of Learned Ignorance, trans. Germain Heron (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1954). On the influence of Cusa on Bruno, see “Editor's Introduction” in The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, 35–36, and J. Lewis McIntyre, Giordano Bruno (London: Macmillan, 1903), 140–48.
(3.) Translated by Gilbert Highet in William York Tindall, A Reader's Guide to Finnegans Wake (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1996), 178.
(4.) Joyce was led to make Dublin, Georgia, the double in the New World of Dublin in the Old through his inquiry of Julien Levy, who found three Dublins in the United States; see Richard Ellmann, James Joyce, rev. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 583n. From the current Rand McNally Road Atlas and U.S. Postal Zip-Code Directory, I find there are ten Dublins in the United States. In addition to Georgia there are Dublins in California, Indiana, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. I suspect that many, if not all, of these Dublins existed in the 1920s, at the time of Joyce's request to Levy. Also, in the first chapter of book 2 of the Wake there is “dub gulch” (254.17). Dublin Gulch is a locality in Silver Bow County, near Butte, Montana. See Louis O. Mink, A Finnegans Wake Gazetteer (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978), 298.
(5.) Ellmann, 59–60.
(6.) Mary and Padraic Colum, Our Friend James Joyce (Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1968; 1958), 82.
(7.) Samuel Beckett, “Dante … Bruno. Vico.. Joyce,” in Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress (New York: New Directions, 1972; 1929), 4. I am unclear why Joyce and Beckett particularly insist on characterizing Vico as “roundheaded.” His cycles of history are round. Are Cromwellian associations intended? Or, does it simply mean “hardheaded,” empirically minded, dealing only in facts? I note in a fairly recent novel about academic life by the Dublin-born Ruth Dudley Edwards, the comment: “‘You need the whistle-blowers and the people who don't mind being unpopular and the people with tunnel vision.’ ‘But not too many of them,’ said the Bursar. ‘They're almost all Roundheads.’” See Matricide at St. Martha's (New York: St. Martin's, 1995), 167. See also my remarks in the Postface.
(8.) Domenico Pietropaolo, “Vico and Literary History in the Early Joyce,” in Vico and Joyce, ed. Donald Phillip Verene (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987), 102.
(9.) C. P. Curran, James Joyce Remembered (London: Oxford University Press, 1968), 121.
(10.) “James Clarence Mangan,” in The Critical Writings of James Joyce, ed. Ellsworth Mason and Richard Ellmann (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1989), 81–83. The editors regard the source of these views as theosophy, coming to Joyce perhaps through Yeats. They may be correct; if so, they are also views shared with Vico. The similarity of these views with those of Vico would not have escaped Joyce, given his reading of Fornaciari and his conversations with Ghezzi.
(11.) Alessandro Francini Bruni, “Recollections of Joyce,” in Portraits of the Artist in Exile: Recollections of James Joyce by Europeans, ed. Willard Potts (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1979), 40.
(12.) Max Harold Fisch, “Vico's Reputation and Influence,” in The Autobiography of Giambattista Vico, trans. Max Harold Fisch and Thomas Goddard Bergin (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1990; 1944), 97. Although Fisch gives 1905 as a date of Joyce's reading and digesting Vico's Scienza nuova, it may only signify the date of Joyce's arrival in Trieste, where at some point during his residence he read Vico. Fisch told me when we were in Trieste together in June 1985 that he could not recall what his evidence was for this date of Joyce's reading Vico.
(13.) Ellmann, 340.
(14.) Joyce resided in via Donato Bramante from Sept. 15, 1912, to June 28, 1915 (L II:lvii).
(15.) Hugh Kenner, Dublin's Joyce (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987), 324.
(16.) Ellmann, 340n.
(17.) James Joyce, “Vico (Cornell)” in Notes, Criticism, Translations, and Miscellaneous Writings: A Facsimile of Manuscripts and Typescripts, vol. 2, ed. Hans Walter Gabler, The James Joyce Archive (New York: Garland, 1979), 391–93. See also Andrew Treip, “The Cornell Notes on Vico,” La revue des lettres modernes: James Joyce 3, Joyce et I'ltalie, ed. Claude Jacquet and Jean-Michel Rabaté (Paris: Lettres Modernes, 1994), 217–20. The Archive identifies the typescript as the “Trieste or Zurich years” (1905–20).
(18.) See Joyce's comment to Harriet Shaw Weaver on this passage from Quinet (L (p.223) I:295); also, James S. Atherton, The Books at the Wake: A Study of Literary Allusions in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake (New York: Viking, 1960), 34–35.
(19.) Ellmann, 664.
(20.) Colum, 81.
(21.) Curran, 86–87. The passage Joyce pointed out to Curran combines lines from Michelet's “Avant-propos” and his introduction, “Discours sur le système et la vie de Vico,” to Oeuvres choisies de Vico (1835). See Jules Michelet, Oeuvres complètes, vol. 1, ed. Paul Viallaneix (Paris: Flammarion, 1971), 281, 287, 288.
(22.) Silvio Benco, “James Joyce in Trieste,” in Portraits of the Artist in Exile, 52. Joyce not only knew Italian; as a lingua vita its forms of speech and expression influenced his work. For an analysis of this influence see Corinna del Greco Lobner, James Joyce's Italian Connection: The Poetics of the Word (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1989). For the texts of Joyce's articles in Il piccolo della sera as well as his other short writings in Italian see James Joyce, Occasional, Critical, and Political Writing, ed. Kevin Barry, trans. from Italian by Conor Deane (London and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).
(23.) Benco, 49. Ellmann, 389.
(24.) The texts of Joyce's examination essays are in Louis Berrone, James Joyce in Padua (New York: Random House, 1977). See also Occasional, Critical, and Political Writing, ed. Barry, 183–90 and 285–88.
(25.) Francini Bruni, 44, n. 58.
(26.) Roland McHugh, Annotations to Finnegans Wake (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), xiv–xv; Tindall, 62, 208, 331.
(27.) Ellmann, 564.
(28.) The annalists to whom Joyce refers are the Franciscan monks who compiled the Annals of the Four Masters, written between 1632 and 1636, giving the history of Ireland; they appear as figures in Finnegans Wake and can be associated with the Four Evangelists (see FW 256.21). See also Joyce's letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver of Oct. 12, 1923 (SL 296 and n. 2).
(29.) Colum, 82.
(30.) Ellmann, 722.
(31.) H. P. Adams, The Life and Writings of Giambattista Vico (London: Allen and Unwin, 1935); Robert Flint, Vico (Edinburgh and London: Blackwood, 1884).
(32.) Jacques Mercanton, “The Hours of James Joyce,” in Portraits of the Artist in Exile, 207.
(33.) Ellmann, 693.
(34.) See Donald Phillip Verene, “Freud's Consulting Room Archeology and Vico's Principles of Humanity,” British Journal of Psychotherapy 13 (1997): 499–505.
(35.) Ellmann, 340.
(36.) Anita Loos, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”: The Illuminating Diary of a Professional Lady (New York: Boni and Liveright, 1925), 156–58.
(37.) Ellmann, 126 and note. In the preface to the reprinting of Les lauriers sont coupés (Paris: Messein, 1924), Valery Larbaud compares the “monologue intérieur” of Dujardin's novel to that of Ulysses (which appeared in 1922).
(38.) Ellmann, 628.
(39.) William Carlos Williams, “A Point for American Criticism,” in Our Exagmination, 182.
(40.) Carl G. Jung, “Ulysses—ein Monologue,” Europäische Revue 8 (1932): 547–68. On Jung see Donald Phillip Verene, “Coincidence, Historical Repetition, and Self-knowledge: Jung, Vico, and Joyce,” Journal of Analytical Psychology 47 (2002): 459–78.
(41.) Ellmann, 693.
(42.) Patricia Hutchins, James Joyce's World (London: Methuen, 1957), 212.
(43.) The Early Joyce: The Book Reviews, 1902–1903, ed. Stanislaus Joyce and Ellsworth Mason (Colorado Springs: Mamalujo Press, 1955), 39 and 40, n. 9.
(44.) The Critical Writings of James Joyce, 69.
(45.) Ellmann, 89 and note. Ibsen's line is: “At leve er—krig med trolde,” see M. C. Bradbrook, Ibsen the Norwegian: A Revaluation (Hamden, Conn.: Archon, 1966), 16.
(46.) The work that began the connection of Vico and Ulysses is Ellsworth G. Mason, “James Joyce's Ulysses and Vico's Cycles,” Ph.D. diss., Yale University, 1948. See also Patrick T. White, “James Joyce's Ulysses and Vico's “Principles of Humanity,̒” Ph.D. diss., University of Michigan, 1963.
(47.) Ellmann says Joyce “often agreed with Vico that ‘Imagination is nothing but the working over of what is remembered,’ and said to Frank Budgen, ‘Imagination is memory’” (Ellmann, 661n.). See also Richard Ellmann, The Consciousness of Joyce (New York: Oxford University Press, 1977), 3, 135. Budgen says: “I once broached the question of imagination with Joyce. He brushed it aside with the assertion that imagination was memory.” See Frank Budgen, Myselves When Young (London: Oxford University Press, 1970), 187. Budgen also makes this point in his essay “Resurrection,” in Twelve and a Tilly: Essays on the Occasion of the 25th Anniversary of Finnegans Wake, ed. Jack P. Dalton and Clive Hart (London: Faber and Faber, 1966): “Memory is a function of mind which Joyce equated with imagination” (14). The source for the identification of memory and imagination is Aristotle's On Memory (450a 21–23).
(48.) Anthony Burgess, ed., A Shorter Finnegans Wake (New York: Viking, 1968), xiii.
(49.) Adaline Glasheen, Third Census of Finnegans Wake: An Index of the Characters and Their Roles (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1977), 298. The abridgement Glasheen mentions is The New Science of Giambattista Vico, revised and abridged translation, Thomas Goddard Bergin and Max Harold Fisch (New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1961); reissued by Cornell University Press, 1970. An exception to Joyceans that have not allowed Vico to affect their interpretations is John Bishop in his discussion of Vico in Joyce's Book of the Dark: Finnegans Wake (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1986), ch. 7. The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce, ed. Derek Attridge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997; 1990) has only the slightest mention of Vico.
(50.) Autobiography, 111.
(51.) Ellmann, 244–45.
(52.) Kenner, 321.
(53.) Stuart Gilbert, “Prolegomena to Work in Progress,” in Our Exagmination, notes the connection of Joyce's pursuit of language with Vico's “mental vocabulary” (54).
(54.) Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose, trans. William Weaver (New York: Harcourt (p.225) Brace Jovanovich, 1983), 491. See Donald Phillip Verene, “Philosophical Laughter: Vichian Remarks on Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose,” New Vico Studies 2 (1984): 75–81. The source for truth conveyed in laughter is Horace (Sat., 1.1.24). Quoted by Montaigne (Essais, bk. 3, ch. 5). Joyce once corrected in vino veritas to in risu veritas. He claimed “I am only an Irish clown, a great joker at the universe” (Ellmann, 703).
(55.) Mary T. Reynolds, Joyce and Dante: The Shaping Imagination (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981).
(57.) For this fragment in English, see the translation by Maggie Günsberg in Critical Essays on Dante, ed. Giuseppe Mazzotta (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1991), 58–60, or Discussions of the Divine Comedy, ed. Irma Brandeis (Boston: Heath, 1961), 11–12.
(58.) Anthony Burgess, Joysprick: An Introduction to the Language of James Joyce (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973), 131.
(59.) On the identities of Shem and Shaun see Glasheen, 262–63. There are also connections to the Daedalus myth and to Penelope; see Glasheen, 229. See below, Postface.
(60.) Francesco Mario Pagano, De' saggi politici: Ristampa anastatica della prima edizione (1783–1785), ed. Fabrizio Lomonaco (Naples: Fridericiana Editrice Universitaria, 2000).
(61.) Elio Gianturco, “Joseph de Maistre and Giambattista Vico,” Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1937.
(62.) Fisch, “Vico's Reputation and Influence,” in Autobiography, 65–66; Enrico De Mas, “Vico and Italian Thought,” in Giambattista Vico: An International Symposium, ed. Giorgio Tagliacozzo and Donald Phillip Verene (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), 155–60.
(63.) Fisch, 66 and 75–76.
(64.) Alain Pons, “Vico and French Thought,” in Giambattista Vico: An International Symposium, 172.
(65.) Fisch, 79.
(66.) See Michelet, Oeuvres complètes, vol. 1, 614–24.
(67.) Pons, 173; Fisch, 78.
(68.) Fisch, 79.
(69.) Giovanni Gentile, Studi vichiani, 3d rev. ed. (Florence: Sansoni, 1968), 51 n. 2.
(70.) Benedetto Croce, “An Unknown Page from the Last Months of Hegel's Life,” trans. James W. Hillesheim and Ernesto Caserta, The Personalist 45 (1964): 329–53; see esp. 344–45 and 351.
(71.) Pietro Piovani, “Vico without Hegel,” in Giambattista Vico: An International Symposium, 107. See Piovani's collected essays, La filosofia nuova di Vico, ed. Fulvio Tessitore (Naples: Morano, 1990).
(72.) Giorgio Tagliacozzo, The Arbor Scientiae Reconceived and the History of Vico's Resurrection (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1993).
(73.) “Obituary: Max Harold Fisch, 1900–1995,” New Vico Studies 139 (1995): 160–62.
(74.) Isaiah Berlin, Vico and Herder: Two Studies in the History of Ideas (New York: Viking, 1976). The study on Vico originates in Berlin's lectures delivered at the Italian (p.226) Institute in London in 1957 and 1958 and published in Art and Ideas in Eighteenth-Century Italy (Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1960).
(75.) Leon Pompa, Vico: A Study of the “New Science” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975).
(76.) Nicola Badaloni, Introduzione a G. B. Vico (Milan: Feltrinelli, 1961).
(77.) Gianfranco Cantelli, Mente corpo linguaggio: Saggio sull'interpretazione vichiana del mito (Florence: Sansoni, 1986).
(78.) Andrea Battistini, La degnità della retorica: Studi su G. B. Vico (Pisa: Pacini, 1975). See also Battistini, “Contemporary Trends in Vichian Studies,” in Vico: Past and Present, ed. Giorgio Tagliacozzo (Atlantic Highlands, N. J.: Humanities Press, 1981), 1–42, esp. 2–14.
(79.) For works in English see Molly Black Verene, Vico: A Bibliography of Works in English from 1884 to 1994 (Bowling Green, Ohio: Philosophy Documentation Center, 1994) and its supplements in New Vico Studies. For works in Italian and other languages, see Benedetto Croce, Bibliografia vichiana, rev. ed., by Fausto Nicolini, 2 vols. (Naples: Ricciardi, 1947–48) and its supplements (see Bibliography).
(80.) Jacques Derrida, Of Grammatology, trans. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974), 272, 298, 335, 349–50, 351, 352. See Jürgen Trabant, “Parlare scrivendo: Deconstructive Remarks about Derrida's Reading of Vico,” New Vico Studies 7 (1989): 43–58. Derrida told me in a conversation on Sept. 26, 1985, that he had never read Vico's Scienza nuova, although he said he had it on a list of works to read when he was preparing Of Grammatology.
(81.) Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge, trans. A. M. Sheridan Smith (New York: Harper, 1972), 158, 180. See Nancy S. Struever, “Vico, Foucault, and the Strategy of Intimate Investigation,” New Vico Studies 2 (1984): 41–57.
(82.) Jürgen Habermas, Theory and Practice, trans. John Viertel (Boston: Beacon, 1973), 45–46, 73–74, 75, 79, 126, 242–45. See also Knowledge and Human Interests, trans. Jeremy J. Shapiro (Boston: Beacon, 1971), 148–49.
(83.) Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, 2d rev. ed., trans. Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall (New York: Crossroad, 1992), see esp. 19–30; also 32, 222, 227, 230, 276, 373, 568, 572. See Donald Phillip Verene, “Gadamer and Vico on Sensus Communis and the Tradition of Humane Knowledge,” in the Philosophy of Hans-Georg Gadamer, vol. 24 of the Library of Living Philosophers, ed. Lewis Edwin Hahn (Chicago and LaSalle, Ill.: Open Court, 1997), 137–53; for citations to Vico in all Gadamer's works, see 138 and 150, nn. 13 and 14.
(84.) Alasdair MacIntyre, After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981), 36, 201. See also his Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988), 57, 252, and his Three Rival Versions of Moral Inquiry: Encyclopedia, Geneology, and Tradition (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990), 22. See Kathy Frashure Coers, “Vico and MacIntyre,” New Vico Studies 4 (1986): 131–33, and John D. Schaeffer, “Vico and MacIntyre's Whose Justice? Which Rationality?” New Vico Studies 7 (1989): 85–95. Also see Donald Phillip Verene, “Imaginative Universals and Narrative Truth,” and Alasdair MacIntyre, “Imaginative Universals and Historical Falsification: A Rejoinder to (p.227) Professor Verene,” New Vico Studies 6 (1988): 1–30. These are papers from a session on Vico at the American Philosophical Association in December 1987 (participants: Verene, MacIntyre, Richard Bernstein, chair).
(85.) Max Horkheimer, “Vico and Mythology,” trans. Fred Dallmayr, New Vico Studies 5 (1987): 63–76. See Fred R. Dallmayr, “Reading Horkheimer Reading Vico: An Introduction,” New Vico Studies 5 (1987): 57–62.
(86.) Karl-Otto Apel, Die Idee der Sprache in der Tradition des Humanismus von Dante bis Vico, 2d ed. (Bonn: Bouvier Verlag Herbert Grundmann, 1975), chap. 12. See Fred R. Dallmayr, “Hermeneutics and Historicism: Reflections on Winch, Apel, and Vico,” Review of Politics 39 (1977): 60–81.
(87.) A. S. Byatt, Possession: A Romance (New York: Random House, 1990), 3–6 (Vico is quoted on 6), 10, 23, 510, 512, 548. The scene involving Vico's New Science appears in the film version of Possession released in August 2002.
(88.) Jorge Luis Borges, “The Immortal,” in Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings, ed. Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby (New York: New Directions, 1964), 105–18.
(89.) Carlos Fuentes, Terra Nostra, trans. Margaret Sayers Peden (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1976); Christopher Unborn, trans. A. MacAdam and C. Fuentes (New York: Vintage, 1990), 132 (Vico presented in terms from Finnegans Wake), 255, 278, 461, 463, 519. Terra Nostra employs Vichian conceptions of history, poetry, and memory. One of the central characters, Ludovico, may be a play on Vico's name, combined with Latin ludo, “to play”; also perhaps a play on Lodo-Vico (“I praise Vico”). In discussing Terra Nostra, Fuentes gives Vico as his source for the need to imagine history: see Jason Weiss, “An Interview with Carlos Fuentes,” Kenyon Review, New Series, 5 (1983): 105–18; see 106. See Lois Parkinson Zamora, “Magic Realism and Fantastic History: Carlos Fuente's Terra Nostra and Giambattista Vico's The New Science,” Review of Contemporary Fiction 8 (1988): 249–56.
(90.) Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet: A Novel (New York: Picador, Henry Holt, 2000), 83.
(91.) Harold Bloom, The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1994), 531–67.
(92.) Ernst Cassirer, The Problem of Knowledge: Philosophy, Science, and History Since Hegel, trans. William H. Woglom and Charles W. Hendel (New York: Yale University Press, 1950), 296; An Essay on Man: An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1944). See Donald Phillip Verene, “Vico's Influence on Cassirer,” New Vico Studies, 3 (1985): 105–11.
(93.) A picture of the various academic approaches that can be taken to Vico and Joyce can be gained from the essays in Vico and Joyce, ed. Donald Phillip Verene (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1987), and the earlier essays by A. Walton Litz, “Vico and Joyce,” in Giambattista Vico: An International Symposium, 245–55, and Stuart Hampshire, “Joyce and Vico: The Middle Way,” in Giambattista Vico's Science of Humanity, ed. Giorgio Tagliacozzo and Donald Phillip Verene (Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1976), 321–32. There is also Norman O. Brown's curious compilation, Closing Time (New York: Random House, 1973), the text of which is a series of (p.228) juxtapositions of quotations from Vico's New Science and Autobiography and Finnegans Wake.
(94.) Karl Marx, Das Kapital: Kritik der politischen Öonomie, vol. 1 (Berlin: Dietz, 1973), 392–93. See Donald Phillip Verene, “Vico and Marx on Poetic Wisdom and Barbarism,” in Vico and Marx: Affinities and Contrasts, ed. Giorgio Tagliacozzo (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1983), 251–62.
(95.) See Gustavo Costa, “Vico e Michel de La Roche,” Bollettino del Centro di Studi Vichiani 2 (1972): 63–65. See also George Whalley, “Coleridge and Vico,” in Giambattista Vico: An International Symposium, 225–44.
(96.) Joseph Hone, W. B. Yeats, 1865–1939 (New York: Macmillan, 1943), 393.
(97.) W. B. Yeats, A Vision, rev. ed. (New York: Macmillan, 1937; 1st ed. 1926), 261; Introduction to Words upon the Window-Pane, in The Variorum Edition of the Plays of W. B. Yeats, ed. Russell K. Alspach (London: Macmillan, 1966), 962. Yeats also mentions Vico in his introduction to The Cat and the Moon (1926), ibid., 806–7. Both of these plays and Yeats's introductions are in W. B. Yeats, Wheels and Butterflies (New York: Macmillan, 1935), see 16–17 and 121; W. B. Yeats, On the Boiler (Dublin: Cuala Press, 1938), 22.
(98.) See Louis MacNeice's claim that Vico's principle of making is prevalent in Yeats's later poetry, in his The Poetry of W. B. Yeats (New York: Oxford University Press, 1941), 126.
(99.) See Donald Phillip Verene, “A Note on Vico and Yeats,” New Vico Studies 18 (2000): 95–99.
(100.) Louis Gillet, Claybook for James Joyce, trans. Georges Markow-Totevy (London and New York: Abelard-Schuman, 1958), 66.
(101.) For example, the Wake is full of fish and fishing, esp. angling or fly-fishing, which has not been noticed by Joyceans and which may provide a partial explanation to why there are so many river names. See Robert H. Boyle, “You Spigotty Anglease? (Bookend),” New York Times Book Review (July 23, 2000), 27.
(102.) For example, “the Four Ages of the Viconian Corso-Recorso” [sic], Joseph Campbell and Henry Morton Robinson, A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake (New York: Viking, 1961), 15.