Recordings of James Joyce Reading from his Work

Roxane's comments 25 January 2007

Section: joyce-tapes

Categories: Mention

I know Joyce would have loved this, some comments from twelve-year-old Roxane, sent to my girlfriend, her aunt. Used with their permission. Her German first and then my quick translation.

Roxane’s comments, German

Der Text ist echt voll super. Ich hab mir den angehört, mit Caspar. Und ich hab fast kein Wort verstanden, aber trotzdem, diese Sprache… ich hab alle 2 Sätze gelacht , und Caspar auch. Manche Wörter sind fast so, als würde es dir schon immer geben. Ich hab mir das 2 mal angehört, und beim 3. Mal hab ich das hintendran laufen lassen, als Caspar Hausies hier gemacht hat, und er hat dann immer ganz plötzlich wieder angefangen zu lachen . Echt super, der Text! Normalerweise kann ich zurzeit keine solche langen Texte anhören, oder lesen, weil ich mich nicht so konzentrieren kann, aber bei dem Text konnte ich nicht mehr aufhören, ihn anzuhören! da hab ich mich gefühlt, wie gefesselt oder so, aber nicht unangenehm. Und so schön, ich kann nur davon schwärmen, echt!

Roxane’s comments, English

The text is really totally super. I listened to it with Caspar (brother). And I hardly understood a single word, but still, this language… every second sentence made me laugh, Caspar too. Some words are like they have always existed. I listened to it twice, and for the third time I just let it run in the background while Caspar was doing his homework, and then all of a sudden he had to start laughing again. Really great, the text! Normally I can’t really listen these days to such long texts, or read them, because I can’t really concentrate, but with this text I couldn’t stop listening! I had the feeling that it just wouldn’t let go of me, but in a nice way. And so beautiful, I am totally excited about it, really!

  • Title: Roxane's comments

Thoughts on the two recordings below... 22 January 2007

Section: joyce-tapes

Categories: Mention

Anna Livia Plurabelle from Finnegans Wake

The passage below this entry is from the Anna Livia Plurabelle chapter of Finnegans Wake and is “about” two washerwomen on opposite sides of the River Liffey, washing and talking, and turning into a tree and a stone… “My branches lofty are taking root” — one of them seeing her reflection in the water.

I haven’t read Finnegans Wake from cover to cover and I approach the book with awe and humility, like the powerful and beautiful river of a prose-poem that it is. But I think I have read most parts, and some passages many times. The book has a circular construction, with the last word of the book being “the” and the sentence continuing on the front page with “riverrun…,” a word also echoing French for “we dream again…” and the German “Erinnerung” for “memory.” ([E]rinnerun[g] => riverrun).

It is a dream and takes place in one/some person’s mind but is about everyone; the main male protagonist appears often as “HCE” which takes on diverse meanings, mainly “Here comes everyone!”. (One story about Joyce: when he was about three years old his father was carrying him downstairs on his shoulders to dinner: Joyce exclaimed: “Here comes me!”) The female protagonist is referred to as ALP, also with diverse meanings but mostly: “Anna Livia Plurabelle.” Below is a recording of Joyce reading from the end of this chapter.

It is the river Liffey (“Livia”) and all rivers. I believe Joyce integrated the names of about 800 Rivers into the text, with dozens in the passage below.

Well, you know or don’t you kennet…

Well, you know or don’t you know it… The River Kennet is referred to with a play on the Northern English/Scottish word ken as well as the German kennen, to know.

every telling has a taling…

The Taling River is I believe in China and the word–play is of course, besides simply “telling a tale,” along the lines of “every story has a tale/tail/ending” with tail echoing the title of the book, Finnegans Wake, as in “fin again,” related to Joyce’s interest in Vico’s Scienza Nuova and his cyclical view of the development of civilization.

The Root is a river. The Cher is a river in France. The Fie is a river somewhere, but I can’t find it. “Fieluhr? Filou!” derives from a story about the trenches in WWI, in which a French soldier cried out to a German soldier “Filou!” (scoundrel) which was understood as “Wie viel Uhr?” (What’s the time?”) and answered accordingly.

And it goes on. Like the river it is.

Latin me that, my trinity scholard,...

Reminds me of:

...I wouldn’t give a snap of my two fingers for all their learning why dont they go and create something…

from Ulysses, from Molly’s soliloquy at the end. By the way, “scholard” reminds me of “collard,” which is defined in my Oxford Dictionary as: “a cabbage of a variety that does not develop a heart.”

Joyce assimilated words and expressions from upwards of 70 languages into the Wake, but it is still English and it is not a question of understanding everything, every word and reference. As already mentioned, the book itself is for me like a powerful river I can return to again and again. Or a well (the first word of the passage below) I can always draw from. I once read that Joyce would go to the Seine and sit on its banks listening to it while writing this chapter. He depended on his hearing increasingly as his sight failed.

didn’t you hear it a deluge of times, ufer and ufer

Over and over: Ufer means bank in German, the bank of a river.

My sights are swimming thicker on me by the shadows to this place.

When he made the recording of this passage from ALP, he was in London visiting an eye doctor.

The Aeolus episode from Ulysses

The passage from Ulysses, from the Aeolus episode, takes place among advertisers and journalists, and its “art” is rhetoric, which becomes evident.

The quality of the recording is not very good. I did my best to polish up both recordings… well, to at least take out some high frequencies and to enhance the volume of the voice, since I am not a sound technician. By the way, I digitized these recordings from cassettes that I own. The digitizing was done with Audio Hijack Pro and an iMic/USB audio interface to a simple walkman.

Also: Joyce’s readings diverge from the written version a few times.

Things I love, acushla

The word acoolsha comes from the end of the Wake, and it is Joyce’s variation on the Irish word acushla, meaning my pulse in the sense of my dearest, a term of endearment.

Once some years ago I took stock of things I loved, and at least one result of that is this acoolsha. Also a little part of me to share with the many people I love.

  • Title: Thoughts on the two recordings below...


Anna Livia Plurabelle, Finnegans Wake (starting on page 213) 21 January 2007

Section: joyce-tapes

Categories: Mention

I dedicate this entry to Anna, the best friend of my girlfriend’s nieces Undine and Roxane. Anna is 13 years old and currently courageously fighting cancer. Wir lieben Dich, Anna.


Well, you know or don’t you kennet or haven’t I told you every telling has a taling and that’s the he and the she of it. Look, look, the dusk is growing! My branches lofty are taking root. And my cold cher’s gone ashley. Fieluhr? Filou! What age is at? It saon is late. ‘Tis endless now senne eye or erewone last saw Waterhouse’s clogh. They took it asunder, I hurd thum sigh. When will they reassemble it? O, my back, my back, my bach! I’d want to go to Aches-les-Pains. Pingpong! There’s the Belle for Sexaloitez! And Concepta de Send-us-pray! Pang! Wring out the clothes! Wring in the dew! Godavari, vert the showers! And grant thaya grace! Aman. Will we spread them here now? Ay, we will. Flip! Spread on your bank and I’ll spread mine on mine. Flep! It’s what I’m doing. Spread! It’s churning chill. Der went is rising. I’ll lay a few stones on the hostel sheets. A man and his bride embraced between them. Else I’d have sprinkled and folded them only. And I’ll tie my butcher’s apron here. It’s suety yet. The strollers will pass it by. Six shifts, ten kerchiefs, nine to hold to the fire and this for the code, the convent napkins, twelve, one baby’s shawl. Good mother Jossiph knows, she said. Whose head? Mutter snores? Deataceas! Wharnow are alle her childer, say? In kingdome gone or power to come or gloria be to them farther? Allalivial, allalluvial! Some here, more no more, more again lost alla stranger. I’ve heard tell that same brooch of the Shannons was married into a family in Spain. And all the Dunders de Dunnes in Markland’s Vineland beyond Brendan’s herring pool takes number nine in yangsee’s hats. And one of Biddy’s beads went bobbing till she rounded up lost histereve with a marigold and a cobbler’s candle in a side strain of a main drain of a manzinahurries off Bachelor’s Walk. But all that’s left to the last of the Meaghers in the loup of the years prefixed and between is one kneebuckle and two hooks in the front. Do you tell me. that now? I do in troth. Orara por Orbe and poor Las Animas! Ussa, Ulla, we’re umbas all! Mezha, didn’t you hear it a deluge of times, ufer and ufer, respund to spond? You deed, you deed! I need, I need! It’s that irrawaddyng I’ve stoke in my aars. It all but husheth the lethest zswound. Oronoko! What’s your trouble? Is that the great Finnleader himself in his joakimono on his statue riding the high horse there forehengist? Father of Otters, it is himself! Yonne there! Isset that? On Fallareen Common? You’re thinking of Astley’s Amphitheayter where the bobby restrained you making sugarstuck pouts to the ghostwhite horse of the Peppers. Throw the cobwebs from your eyes, woman, and spread your washing proper! It’s well I know your sort of slop. Flap! Ireland sober is Ireland stiff Lord help you, Maria, full of grease, the load is with me! Your prayers. I sonht zo! Madammangut! Were you lifting your elbow, tell us, glazy cheeks, in Conway’s Carrigacurra canteen? Was I what, hobbledyhips? Flop! Your rere gait’s creakorheuman bitts your butts disagrees. Amn’t I up since the damp dawn, marthared mary allacook, with Corri- gan’s pulse and varicoarse veins, my pramaxle smashed, Alice Jane in dec and my oneeyed mongrel twice run over, soaking and bleaching boiler rags, and sweating cold, a widow like me, for to deck my tennis champion son, the laundryman with the lavandier flannels? You won your limpopo limp fron the husky hussars when Collars and Cuffs was heir to the town and your slur gave the stink to Carlow. Holy Scamander, I sar it again! Near the golden falls. Icis on us! Seints of light! Zezere! Subdue your noise, you hamble creature! What is it but a blackburry growth or the dwyergray ass them four old codgers owns. Are you meanam Tarpey and Lyons and Gregory? I meyne now, thank all, the four of them, and the roar of them, that draves that stray in the mist and old Johnny MacDougal along with them. Is that the Poolbeg flasher beyant, pharphar, or a fireboat coasting nyar the Kishtna or a glow I behold within a hedge or my Garry come back from the Indes? Wait till the honeying of the lune, love! Die eve, little eve, die! We see that wonder in your eye. We’ll meet again, we’ll part once more. The spot I’ll seek if the hour you’ll find. My chart shines high where the blue milk’s upset. Forgivemequick, I’m going! Bubye! And you, pluck your watch, forgetmenot. Your evenlode. So save to jurna’s end! My sights are swimming thicker on me by the shadows to this place. I sow home slowly now by own way, moyvalley way. Towy I too, rathmine.

Ah, but she was the queer old skeowsha anyhow, Anna Livia, trinkettoes! And sure he was the square old buntz too, Dear Dirty Dumpling, foostherfather of fingalls and dotthergills. Gammer and gaffer we’re all their gangsters. Hadn’t he seen dams to wive him? And every dam had her seven crutches. And every crutch had its seven hues. And each hue had a differing cry. Sudds for me and supper for you and the doctor’s bill for Joe John. Befor! Bifur! He married his markets, cheap by foul, I knkow, like and Etrurian Catholic Heathen, in their pinky limony creamy birnies and their turkiss indienne mauves. But at milidmass who was the spouse? Then all that was was fair. Tys Elvenlan! Teems of times and happy returns. The seim anew. Ordovico or viricordo. Anna was, Livia is, Plurabelle’s to be. Northmen’s thing made southfolk’s place but howmulty plurators made eachone in person? Latin me that, my trinity scholard, out of eure sanscreed into oure eryan! Hircus Civis Eblanensis! He had buck goat paps on him, soft ones for orphans. Ho, Lord! Twins of his bosom. Lord save us! And ho! Hey? What all men. Hot? His tittering daughters of. Whawk?

Can’t hear the waters of. The chittering waters of. Flittering bats, fieldmice bawk talk. Ho! Are you not gone ahome? What Thom Malone? Can’t hear with bawk of bats, all thim liffeying waters of. Ho, talk save us! My foos won’t moos. I feel as old as yonder elm. A tale of Shaun or Shem? All Livia’s daughter-sons. Dark hawks hear us. Night! Night! My ho head halls. I feel as heavy as yonder stone. Tell me the John or Shaun? Who were Shem and Shaun the living sons or daughters of? Night now! Tell me, tell me, elm! Night night! Telmetale of stem or stone. Beside the rivering waters of, hitherandthithering waters of. Night!

  • Title: Anna Livia Plurabelle, Finnegans Wake (starting on page 213)
  • Writing credits: James Joyce
  • Further details: Published 1939

Ulysses, a passage from the Aeolus episode (starting page 142) 20 January 2007

Section: joyce-tapes


He began:
— Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen: Great was my admiration in listening to the remarks addressed to the youth of Ireland a moment since by my learned friend. It seemed to me that I had been transported into a country far away from this country, into an age remote from this age, that I stood in ancient Egypt and that I was listening to the speech of some highpriest of that land addressed to the youthful Moses.
His listeners held their cigarettes poised to hear, their smoke ascending in frail stalks that flowered with his speech. And let our crooked smokes. Noble words coming. Look out. Could you try your hand at it yourself?
— And it seemed to me that I heard the voice of that Egyptian highpriest raised in a tone of like haughtiness and like pride. I heard his words and their meaning was revealed to me.

From the Fathers
It was revealed to me that those things are good which yet are corrupted which neither if they were supremely good nor unless they were good could be corrupted. Ah, curse you! That’s saint Augustine.
— Why will you jews not accept our culture, our religion and our language? You are a tribe of nomad herdsmen; we are a mighty people. You have no cities nor no wealth: our cities are hives of humanity and our galleys, trireme and quadrireme, laden with all manner merchandise furrow the waters of the known globe. You have but emerged from primitive conditions: we have a literature, a priesthood, an agelong history and a polity.
Child, man, effigy.
By the Nilebank the babemaries kneel, cradle of bulrushes: a man supple in combat: stonehorned, stonebearded, heart of stone.
— You pray to a local and obscure idol: our temples, majestic and mysterious, are the abodes of Isis and Osiris, of Horus and Ammon Ra. Yours serfdom, awe and humbleness: ours thunder and the seas. Israel is weak and few are her children: Egypt is an host and terrible are her arms. Vagrants and daylabourers are you called: the world trembles at our name.
A dumb belch of hunger cleft his speech. He lifted his voice above it boldly:
— But, ladies and gentlemen, had the youthful Moses listened to and accepted that view of life, had he bowed his head and bowed his will and bowed his spirit before that arrogant admonition he would never have brought the chosen people out of their house of bondage nor followed the pillar of the cloud by day. He would never have spoken with the Eternal amid lightnings on Sinai’s mountaintop nor ever have come down with the light of inspiration shining in his countenance and bearing in his arms the tables of the law, graven in the language of the outlaw.

  • Title: Ulysses, a passage from the Aeolus episode (starting page 142)
  • Writing credits: James Joyce
  • Further details: Published 1914