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  • Allusions to “Eveline” in Finnegans Wake I.8
  • Jim LeBlanc (bio)

In Wandering and Return in “Finnegans Wake,” Kimberly J. Devlin argues that “obsessions, scenarios, and images from [his] earlier texts resurface in Joyce’s final dreambook but in uncanny forms, transformed and yet discernible, in the same way that impressions from waking life reappear in dream thoughts.”1 In examining the reemergence of Joyce’s earlier writings in the Wake, Devlin situates herself within a critical tradition that insists on a certain continuity in the author’s literary corpus. James S. Atherton, for example, in his comprehensive study of the literary allusions in Finnegans Wake, devotes several pages to the role of Joyce’s own works in the book.2 Writing almost three decades later, Michael H. Begnal reiterates what had by then become a common critical assumption—that what Joyce undertakes in Finnegans Wake is new, “but it builds upon . . . what he has already established in his previous works of fiction.”3 Of particular importance for the theoretical underpinnings of Devlin’s study is Margot Norris’s observation that Joyce’s “technique of taking bits and pieces of the old and using them to create something new [bri-colage] is, perhaps, best illustrated by showing how various themes and motifs from the early works take on new life in Finnegans Wake.”4 Most recently, Thomas Jackson Rice writes that “Joyce himself implies that the Wake cannibalizes his earlier works when he alludes to his literal consumption of his own books, an act of bibliophagy, midway through his text: ‘And trieste, ah trieste ate I my liver [livre]’” (FW 301.16).5

One such act of “cannibalization” that Devlin examines closely in Wandering and Return was first presented by Clive Hart in Structure and Motif in “Finnegans Wake.”6 Hart reveals an extended thematic parallel between the concluding pages of Joyce’s final novel and “Eveline.” He also points out several textual allusions to the story in the Wake’s finale. The thematic parallel, as Hart construes it, can be found in the “eternal circle” in which ALP, as river and Irish female avatar, is condemned to run, at once flowing out to the sea while at the same time reverting “to the same old way of life” (53), as the Wake bends and swerves back to its “riverrun” overture (FW 3.01). According to Hart, this reading of ALP’s fate in the Wake recalls the situation in which Eveline finds herself as a “victim of Irish paralysis,” her spiritual cycle “bounded by the appalling routine life entailed by [End Page 339] her refusal to become a new person” (55).

Devlin recalls Hart’s comments in her own examination of the Wake as a narrative locus in which Joyce’s earlier fictional works return. She observes that ALP’s monologue in Book IV, or the Wake’s “ricorso,” is a “particularly rich site of returns, the end containing numerous shards of stories composed in early and midcareer” (163). Devlin grounds her overall critical strategy in Wandering and Return on a conception of the Wakean dreamer as a composite figure who incorporates the personas of several of Joyce’s earlier, principally male characters—chiefly Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, but some of the minor characters as well (20–21). Noting that ALP appears both to surrender erotically to the seductive call of a lover and to return to her “mad feary father” in the novel’s final pages (FW 628.02), Devlin remarks that “the logic of the Wake’s seemingly contradictory ending can be best understood if one imagines the father within the dream here as Mr. Hill [Eveline’s father in the short story] and then speculates about what he might have dreamed about after reading Eveline’s letter on the night she attempts to leave her family” (178). Devlin also points out that, although the death of Eveline’s mother and the daughter’s intended flight from home are separate narrative events in the short story, the Wake’s dreamwork conflates them into “analogous departures with similar causalities—weariness over female roles within the patriarchal family” (179).

The text’s concluding pages, however, are not the...


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pp. 339-346
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