Finnegans Wake 198 and 199 – echoes of the Middle Passage and the presence of Jamaican Creole and Haitian Vodun

Text and comment


198.01 your pipes and fall ahumming, you born ijypt, and you’re no-
    Egypt, jipped, Gypsy + Ptolemy (line 02)       see                                          005.22 a wink to the wabsanti. Otherways wesways like that provost scoffing                                                                                                                             005.23  bedoueen the jebel and the jpysian sea.
jpysian  ‘Gypsy Ann’, Anna,  Between (‘Bedouin’) the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (song 1920’s);                                                                                              wabsanti – see  “absantee” Ashanti  198.16           
                          + series of related items

198.02 thing short of one! Well, ptellomey soon and curb your escumo.
198.03 When they saw him shoot swift up her sheba sheath, like any
198.04 gay lord salomon, her bulls they were ruhring, surfed with

   the Salomon (exact spelling) was the name of Sir John Hawkins’  boat
   which was the first English boat to carry slaves to the New World.

So this whole page will be, among other things, about the Middle Passage

(see p 316)

316.24                   The foe things your niggerhead needs
316.25 to be fitten for the Big Water. He made the sign of the ham-

316.26 mer. God’s drought, he sayd, after a few daze, thinking of all  316.27 those bliakings, how leif pauses! Here you are back on your haw-
316.28 kins, from Blasil the Brast to our povotogesus portocall, the furt 316.29 on the turn of the hurdies, slave to trade, vassal of spices and a
316.30 dragon-the-market, and be turbot, lurch a stripe, as were you 316.31 soused methought out of the mackerel.

bliakings  ‘blacks’
leif  ‘life’ Leif Ericson’  – another voyage                                                                   Sir John Hawkins                                                                                                                see the Wikipedia and NNDB links below and the header quote from Burrage/Hakluyt


on Sir John Hawkins – Wikipedia (not including Sir John Hawkins    bio at NNDB (not including Salomon)    Henry Sweetser Burrage, Richard Hakluyt – 1906 – 451 pages –                        Free Google eBook – Read

MASTER JOHN HAWKINS with the Jesus of Lubek,a shippe of 700. and the Salomon a shippe of 140.the Tiger a barke of 50. and the Swallow of 30. tunnes, being all well furnished with men to the number of one hundreth threescore and tenne, ...


198.05 spree. Boyarka buah! Boyana bueh~He erned his lille Bunbath           Boyarka is in the Ukraine  Boyana is in Bulgaria and   (Fweet also)
      (Buah is also a Malay/Indonesian fruit)

Boyarka can be smushed into Arabic Swahili  Barca   ‘praise’

while Boyana can be smushed into Swahili   Bwana  ‘Boss’

   which gives a sort of Swahili reading

– the only reason to do this is an impressionistic reaction
to go along with the other Swahili items on 198-199 entered on the galleys


on these 
– see Dalton–and Wolff  who discovered all this (without JJ’s notes) —   in  A Wake Digest — “Kiswahili Words in Finnegans Wake”
  I  give the two relevant pages from Dalton:

198.11 nyumba noo, chamba choo. Nyumba = house; noo = a large
whetstone; chamba = a hiding place, also, to wash one’s private parts (said of a woman); choo = privy: Joyce found “choo” particularly appropriate for what it names, since it contains the German symbol “oo.” (Because of the alliteration and parallel construction, and the nonsense nature of the sequence, I think it is reasonable (among reasonable men) to say that in this case Joyce used the words with little or no consideration for their sense, though the meanings are significant, if not particularly so in the case of “nyumba.” The words “noo” and “chamba” are the only ones which do not appear at all in his notes (Buffalo MS VI.B.46, “Kissahueli”).
(Cf. the sequence at -.5, based on rivers.)                                                         198.16 sina feza = I have no money
198.16 The words “me” and “him” substituting the objective case for the subjective, are familiar native-sounding talk. I think, however, that
Joyce consciously based them on K. pronouns, which combine the cases into one form. “Mimi” (or, as frequently abbreviated, “mi”) = I, me; “yeye” = he, him/she, her.                                                                                                          198.16 absantee. This appears in the notes as “absanthe (thanks),” and it is a mistake: the “b” should be an “h.” The error in reverse was made in another entry but caught: in setting down the words for silver and gold
he wrote “zalahu,” then followed it with the correct “zahabu” (gold).

199.12 Wendawanda, a fingerthick. Wanda = a finger’s breadth or thickness. It is the Swahili inch. In his notes Joyce wrote “1 fingerthick.” He was working from a German source (see below), and it must have
said “fingerdick,” as in Velten’s definition: “Breite oder Dicke eines Fingers, fingerdick.”
199.16 yayis. Yayi = egg
199.20 hamjambo, bana? A K. greeting, “Hujambo, bana?”, roughly analogous to Eng. “How are you, sir?” “Hamjambo” means are you
(pl.), etc.,” which does not agree with the singular “bana.” I cannot say whether Joyce knew this; there is of course a pun with Eng. “ham,” but the “m” appears in the notes as well.                                                                         Though this fits the pattern in no particular, there is a reference
to the running “How are you today, my dark sir?”s which appear in so many languages. K. itself supplies the “dark,” being a Negersprache.   
[[And the other pages cited by Dalton from Joyce’s notebook]]           

201.23 homa = fever
201.24 mahun of the horse. The phrase “man of the horse” occurs in the notes, but I am unable to state its relationship to K.—if it has one.

It is not a literal translation of K. “horseman,” for example. Earlier in the notes there is a brief exercise in genitives (“days of the work, the werks day”—”werks” being German), and presumably the same thing is being got at in both.
201.25 bundukiboi meet askarigal. Bunduki = gun; boi = houseboy, servant (derived from Eng. “boy”); askari = soldier
201.30 meanacuminamoyas. mia na kumi na moja = correct K. for the number 111 (lit., (one)hundred and ten and one, or, more correctly,
(one)hundred and eleven, since “kumi na moja” = eleven)                      203.31 But the majik wavus has elfun anon meshes. Maji = water; wavu =
net, as a fishnet (“meshes”); elfu = 1000. Note the pattern: one letter is added to the end of each K. word.
203.32 Simba … Oga. Simba = lion; “Oga” is a problem. In his notes Joyce wrote “ogakoga (bath).” “Oga” is the short form of “koga,” “to bathe,” and, as “oga,” is indistinguishable except in context from “oga” meaning “fear, cowardice.” “Oga” does not mean “bath,” but Joyce thought it did, and we therefore read it “bath,” a waterword in a waterchapter.
204.21 Mtu or Mti. Mtu = man; mti = tree. K. for “river” is “mto,” which does not appear in the notes. “Tum” and “Tim” skirt “Tom,” making
2 + 1 ‘witnesses.’                                                                                                              206.28 pooleypooley. Polipoli = slowly
209.11 tembo = palmwine (v. 428.1); tumbo = belly (Ger. “bauch” in the notes, followed by “utumbo (bowels)” and preceded by a word for
“lung”);   pilipili = pepper; saa = watch, clock, hour (Ger. “uhr” in the notes); taa = lamp; bizaa = merchandise (v. 210.2), but in his notes Joyce wrote “bizari,” “spice” (pilipili and bizari are two of the three chief parts of their curry powder), and this word and meaning is preserved by the preceding “specis”

[[Other Swahili in FW – not in Notebook VI – exist]]


198.06 hard, our staly bred, the trader. He did. Look at here. In this wet       198.07 of his prow. Don’t you know he was kaldt a bairn of the brine,              198.08 Wasserbourne the waterbaby? Havemmarea, so he was! H.C.E.

As Fweet also notes,  this is a reference to Charles Kingsley’s  The Waterbabies   –   which is significant for me in two ways.  
   1. it is another structuring of the MIddle Passage – as the ‘black’ 
chimney sweep  by his passage through the water is “washed whiter than snow”
   2. C.K. Meek, Tribal Studies in Northern Nigeria, 2 vols. London, 1931. (Humanities Press, new impression, 1950) 
Meek only gives his initials but it turns out that the C K is for ‘Charles Kingsley’.                                                                                                                              Some of Meek’s major chapters have to do with two groups he calls Chamba     which is their Fulani name. They call themselves Sama.- a  ch/s  pairing that Joyce makes use of.
Meek’s book is a major source for Joyce on this region – at that time the provinceof Adamawa  (Adama – wa) 
       So the “Chamba” we find 3 lines after the Waterbabies can raise reasonable suspicions of, if not establish,  Meek’s presence
[See also lines that may be claims of Meek’s presence at

271.F4 “Understudy my understandings, Sostituda, and meek thine

complinement gymnufleshed” ( ‘naked’ as in the pictures in Meek’s book)

423.13 “It was given meeck . . . to assist at the whole thing byck”

     Another use of “meek” which may have helped lead Joyce to Meek’s Tribal Studies is in  Portrait of the Artist, when discussing Newman, Stephen sheds his “second skin of meekness”   `

John Szwed has noticed that Joyce seems  to use the words

that Meek puts in italics- which he may also do wih other authors

     – but I will not go into that here.
 Among the items in italics there is a photograph of a phallic mud pillar,

with the italicized name Woops  (Meek: Vol. I, Ch. 7 p 431)

and a case can be made that it appears along with other phallic resurrection

in the line at 24.14  when Finnegan revives:

  Have you whines for my wedding, did you bring bride and bedding,

  will you whoop for my deading is a? Wake? Usqueadbaugham!

(As Mark Troy has noted, “deading is a” can be read  as

‘dead in Gisa’   AWN XII:5, 92  1975 OCT.

        -giving us the great pyramid along with the mud pillar)

Now see discussion at line .11 below of the Swahili entry

“nyumba noo, chamba choo”

198.09 has a codfisck ee. Shyr she’s nearly as badher as him herself.

198.10 Who? Anna Livia? Ay, Anna Livia. Do you know she was call-

198.11 ing bakvandets sals from all around, nyumba noo, chamba choo,

   The first thing to realize about these Swahili entries is that they are not

just in Swahili. And as we will see, Joyce by introducing them on the galleys
(from the notebooks where they had been waiting to be used) was not just

adding a couple of words.
He was transforming meanings across at least two pages of his book.
There are several places in Finnegans Wake where Joyce pairs

his Swahili (East Africa)entries with items from West Africa.

       Chamba on line 11 is one of these.

In Meek,  the Chamba or Sama of Nigeria in West Africa are of 2 kinds –

the Chamba Daka and the Chamba Leko – as he calls them..

Actually the Daka are the hill residents among the people speaking

the language – Sama mum (or ‘Sama mouth’) of his Chamba Daka

(pop. about 100,000) – while his Chamba Leko, relatively far to the southwest,

speak a language almost as differentas Vere or Mumuye

(groups with populations of about 200,000 each)..

   Although at the edges of the  Hausa-Fulani empires, often resistant,

they form a middle belt of peoples that do not make most of the stereotypical

descriptions of Nigeria.

Parts of Meek’s two volume book can be found on Google books at
CK Meek – Tribal Studies in Northern Nigeria

(But not the chapter on the Chamba nor the photograph of woops)

Another pairing of a Swahili entry with the name of a West African people occurs

at   206.28   “And pooleypooley.”  In Swahili, as Wolff (and Dalton) tells us is
Swahili Polipoli meaning  ‘slowly’.  But the pronunciation Puli

(From the Fulani singular Pullo – British Pul) that we hear in “pooley’

is a somewhat derogatory  form of their name used bythe smaller

tribes they have dominated and often enslaved since 1809.

So as we begin to proceed in this matter bit by bit, we can notice that Joyce

is not just accumulating name references, or just relations of east and west,

but is marking

relationships. This becomes even more clear with the pairing

of the Swahili entries at 198 line 16which Dalton comments with typical rash

emendation as

198.16 sina feza = I have no money
198.16 The words “me” and “him” substituting the objective case for the

subjective, are familiar native-sounding talk. I think, however, that
Joyce consciously based them on K. pronouns, which combine the

cases into one form. “Mimi” (or, as frequently abbreviated, “mi”) =
I, me; “yeye” = he, him/she, her.

198.16 absantee. This appears in the notes as “absanthe (thanks),” and it is a
mistake: the “b” should be an “h.”

For these entries can quite clearly be read in various levels of Jamaican Creole.
[The case is a little elaborate and I don’t know how much of it I want to do here

so bear with me. But it is definite.]

  Before I do however, I need to finish the case for connecting Meek with the Chamba

entry at line 11, a case which in itself is also quite elaborate – and does not merely
depend on Meek’s first names being Charles Kingsley and his having written a

chapter on the Chamba.

   The Chamba call themselves Sama, and the Lapps (of Finland and Sweden and Norway)

call themselves  Same  (2 syllables (the second one a front rounded vowel – but not sami, as some crude Anglicizations have it)  or Samerin the plural.

Joyce just happens to illustrate this across the page with another Swahili entry at199.11-12

199.11   And there she was, Anna Livia, she darent catch a winkle of

199.12   sleep, purling around like a chit of a child, Wendawanda, a finger-

199.13   thick, in a Lapsummer skirt and damazon cheeks,

where  “Lap summer”  clearly indicates the name pairing of Lap and Samer,

and the “damazon cheeks” show vividly that AL is wearing, appropriately,
as the Lapp women did in summer, and as the Chamba/Sama women did,

a skirt of leaves.
    Now all we have to do to show that Joyce is making all these connections
is to show him using the form Samain a context in which the Lapps definitely

appear.  And we can do this.

625.27    But the still sama sitta. I’ve lapped so long.

In part we have here Joyce’s African steatopygia fetish,

the Sama and their “sitta”, but also we have the Laps/Lapps
(both spellings are recognized) with their traditional social unit,

the reindeer herding group, which they call the siida.

So so far we have shown that Joyce ties the Sama/Chamba and Lapps/Samer together

and that he is interested in the alternation between outsiders’ names – Chamba and Lapp –
and their own names Sama and Same.

–  Well – 105.21   Lapps for Finns This Funnycoon’s Week
   (where the Lapps had/have an inferior social position to the Finns

     as African Americans had/have to the so-called white population.)

For the Chamba the sound change is between ch and s

NOW — if we return to the Chamba entry on 198.11
and substitute  for  ch  we get an interesting result.

The Swahili is all about privies and washing private parts.
But  ‘Sama Suu‘, unlike “chamba choo” means ‘Sama God‘,

or ‘Sama sun‘.  (and “noo” means ‘leaf’ which may be neither

here nor there).

   Clearly there is no way to ‘prove’ these last readings. Or
to determine how far Joyce really took his games. But the

contrast in meanings is interesting and a fairly Joycean set
of opposites.

    And it does make more telling the Charles Kingsley/Meek connection

 – which I think it is demonstrated Joyce knew in connection with Chamba –
more telling.

   But these ties across the page are not finished – as we shall see
with Jamaica and particularly Haitian Vodun (‘voodoo’) at lilnes

16 and beyond.

This tieing of East and West not only to the middle passage of

the African to slavery and of the chimney sweep so blackened
and then washed whiter than snow –  also has ties with Cardinal

Newman and thus with Charles Kingsley.   and  Meek. 
In the Isles of the West we have both the isles of the Blest

(from Blasil the Brast) and Utopia also – for the Cape Verde islands
that More seems to have in mind were indeed the first island of

European industrialized overseas African slavery, and the New Man
was also the slave.  It was in defense of Cardinal Newman, that

Stephen in Portrait  sheds ‘his second skin of meekness’.

And of course the four Cardinals are the cardinal directions

Kingsley was also the author of Westward Ho,
championing explorers of the sea, as well

as Hereward the Wake (about the men of the Fens).
John Henry Newman and Charles Kingsley: A Correspondence

on the Question   “Whether Dr. Newman Teachers That

Truth is No Virtue”, Jan 31. 1864

Newman – Kingsley Controversy some quotations  (LINK)

While the Kingsley Newman controversy about truth
(and Protestant/Catholic differences) was not directly

connected to the controversy over Governor Eyre in
Jamaica and his handling of the Morant Bay “Rebellion”

which split up English intellectual society, the sides in both
cases had much in common and there is a sense that

the role of race and ex-slavery was involved. As a recent
commentator put it –

In Kingsley’s mind, there seems to have been a

strong psychological
connection between Romanism

and the West Indies.

His most successful
novel Westward Ho! , written in Devon in the

early months of the Crimean War,
describes the exploits of the

Elizabethan worthy Amyas Leigh. Early in
the book Leigh’s fiance,

the symbolically named Rose, is seduced by a
Spaniard sea captain

called Don Guzman, who elopes with her to the

where Amyas hunts them down. Rose is taken to South America,

where she perishes under the Inquisition.

Meanwhile, Amyas returns to
Europe, where he eventually commands

a battle ship against the Armada.
In the climactic scene he sights his

erstwhile rival driving his own
boat up the West coast of England;

Amyas intercepts the vessel, and is
about to crush it and its captain

against the rocks when storm and
lightning sink the ship, depriving

him of his moment of revenge, and
blind him.

The blinding, as many of Kingsley’s readers will attest, is

the most effective moment in his fiction, since it appears to

the protagonist and, by extension the author, for their own

purblindness, their deliberate and sustained pursuits of

Robert Fraser, FRSL, Professor of English, Open University

All of this requires study by me to really understand it. But there

is no question that Joyce understood it, both Newman,

and Eyrewho earlier had been aclaimed

“Black Protecter of the Lower Murray”in Australia.

– The magical name “Murray” would have been enough
as well as the fact that it was also a river.

“South Australia‘s Lake Eyre, Eyre Peninsula, Eyre Creek, Eyre Highway

(the main highway from South Australia to Western Australia),

and the Eyre Hotel in Whyalla are named in his honour,
as are the villages of Eyreton and West Eyreton

in Canterbury, New Zealand.
Joyce probably conflates  Eire, air, e’re, and Eyre

  The Handel aria from Semele, 
         Where’er you walk, cool gales shall fan the glade;

Trees, where you sit, shall crowd into a shade
is turned into a mixture of Mary had a little lamb and

a move  by the Prankquean

250.29                   And their prunktqueen kilt her kirtles up and

250.30   set out. And her troup came heeling, O. And what do you think

250.31   that pride was drest in! Voolykins’ diamondinah’s vestin. For ever

250.32   they scent where air she. went.

Eyre’s March – an account of his walk with three Aborigines (who died)
along almost the whole, waterless, south coast of Australia was described

in a work by Kingsley’s brother Henry.

(Henry also wrote a story about how a boat and its passengers were rescued

in a storm by a Black or Dark manwho had been ostracized by the passengers,

but who turned out to be a heroic- and extremely well-educated –

Rear Admiral of the Navy – a story Joyce usesin Finnegans Wake. 

   Eyre’s direct appearance in the Wake is domestic –

581.06   and the swanee her ainsell and Eyrewaker’s family sock

and there seems to be some desire to establish his Irishness -His family
were generations old among the Protestant Ascendancy in Galway.

301 Y 2 Excuse theyre christianbrothers irish?


So one more pause before we actually get to the West Indies,

or rather as we pass beyond to Argentina and Uruguay
and Columbia – and the whole Amazon basin –

while Joyce again marks his theme as “El Negro

who turns out to be an African who made a different voyage.

198.12   to go in till him, her erring cheef, and tickle the pontiff aisy-oisy?

198.13   She was? Gota pot! Yssel that the limmat? As El Negro winced
198.14   when he wonced in La Plate. O, tell me all I want to hear, how

  El Rio Negro, La Plata, Huila, Colombia

At its Columbia source   the Black River is at La Plata

vs. El Rio de la Plata, ‘Silver River’,  ‘the River Plate’

                  that separates Uruguay from Argentina

La Plata (“La Plate”) is the capital city of the Province

of Buenos Aires

                  [Rio Negro (Portuguese&Spanish),:English,: the Black River,

is the largest left tributary of the Amazon

                and the largest blackwater river in the world.]

                  So we have 2 rivers,   both identified with La Plata

Wikipedia on ‘the Rio Negro’ – contains the map below

Here is a larger version of the river map of the Amazon Basin with the Rio Negro

Nasa photo of the Rio de la Plata from west looking east – Buenas Aires on the right,

with La Plata just beyond it, and Montevideo on the left at the end of the pink part.

Map of mouth of Rio de la Plata w Buenas Aires, La Plata, and Montevideo all marked

So we can see that Joyce has linked together two major
                  river basins in South America in one line.

                  But Joyce does not say Rio Negro. He says, “El Negro”

– I have found several
  people  with this title,
                      but so far they are all from recent times.

                 However I did find the following on a ‘stuffed African’ on display in

Banyoles (North of Spain, region of Girona).

French taxidermists stole the body later known as El Negro from a grave
beyond the Cape Colony frontier in 1830-31. It was stuffed and
displayed as ‘Le Betjouana’ (i.e. the Bechuana or Motswana) in France
and as ‘1/ Betjouana’ in Spain.

   From 1916 until 1998 it was the
prime exhibit in a museum at Banyoles, north of Barcelona, where it
became known as El Negro. (Controversy over its display began in 1991,
and was complicated by the assertion that a ‘Betjouana’ was a type of
‘Bosquimano’ (Bushman)).”


Botswana Journal of African Studies vol.16 (2002) nO.1 One body playing
many parts-Ie Betjouana, el Negro, and il Bosquimano Neil Parsons
University of Botswana, History

I tried to link El Negro or Banyoles and the River Plate or the River Negro together –
but have not found anything so far.

If there was a 1920’s or 1930’s boxer or other sports figure known as El Negro

that you know about, please let me know  Someone who had reason to  “wince”


And so we arrive at the isles of the west.
198.15   loft she was lift a laddery dextro! A coneywink after the bunting

198.16   fell. Letting on she didn’t care, sina feza, me absantee, him man

198.17   in passession, the proxenete! Proxenete and phwhat is phthat?

The passage on page 198.16
           “sina feza, me absantee, him man in passession”

was annotated as Swahili by Dalton (AWD, 43):

“sina feza” glossed as ‘I have no money’,

     “absantee” as Swahili ahsanthe  ‘thanks’.

  In Joyce’s “Kissuaheli” notes (Buffalo MS VI. B. 48) Dalton

found the latter as  absanthe thanks)”.  Dalton comments that
“this is a mistake: the ‘b’ should be an ‘h’.” But Joyce may

very well have intended the “mistake” – just as “barnaboy” is

not, as Dalton claims, a reading error for Swahili ‘barua’, but
includes the Danish word for child,  ‘barn’  (AWD 45).  Joyce’s

‘error’  prefigures the placement of Swahili and Jamaican in the

word “absantee”
(Has Joyce no limits – notebooks, letters from 1905 and much
else all still in mind as he places one word in Finnegans Wake?)

  In any case our attention is directed to a very productive  b

h alternation. Joyce was certainly aware of the h, for one
important reading of “absantee” is ‘Ashanti’ – which inverts the

Swahili (German spelling) hs  to sh. 3  (other early versions of
the name Ashanti remove the h,

or emphasize the pronunciation

– ‘Asante’  ‘Ashantee’).

A reading of ‘Ashanti’ would be the second time on page 198 that

the name of a West African people occurs blended with a passage
Joyce notes in Swahili

On page 198.16,  the b of “absantee”

(and of Joyce’s distortion of Swahili ‘thankyou’ as “absanthe”)

enters Finnegans Wake first as part of a Jamaican-Ashanti

slave’s complaint about his ABSENCE from his homeland. For

“absantee” represents right on its

surface a British West Indian and typically Jamaican

pronunciation of ‘absentee’.

See also Joyce letter to Stanislaus (28 Feb., 1905) where he

notes that “He (Renan) calls John the Baptist the

absinthe(Italic) of the divine feast”.  French pronunciation of

‘absinthe’ with an unreleased b and its reading ‘absent’ in

“absintheminded” (464.17) also suggests b/h and the b inserted

in the “ahsante” that Dalton wishes to find in Joyce’s notes.

The Ashanti slave has been carried to Jamaica and complains

he is an absentee – but he makes a twist. For the owners of

Jamaican plantations were notoriously ‘absentee landlords’. The

slave plays on this by asserting ‘me absantee; him, man in


While the Jamaican slave’s complaint and longing for his homeland is
genuine, the language we give him here is a caricature.

Dalton refers to “me” and “him” as “native sounding talk”
  – a fair description, for as we have read it so far this could be

not only imitation African based English but also pidgin, pseudo-Indian,
or what have you. Tonto (in The Lone Ranger), for example.

used this construction regularly.

  If this reading were in a form of Jamaican Creole, one would not

simply delete the copula (‘me (to be) absentee’). Instead we might
hear ‘him a di man in passession’ (where ‘a’ can translate as ‘is’ or ‘it is’).

The tone of the slave in “him man in passession” is that presented in
18th and 19th century caricature representations of slave speech.

  But Joyce does not leave his slave in this sorry state,
deprived not only of his homeland and property, including his

ownership of himself, but of his language and culture as well.
He gives us also a reading in genuine Jamaican Creole. In this

reading the Jamaican slave stresses his calm and clarity (self-
possession) as against the loss of control of the master who is

in a state of alien ‘possession’ (by spirits, the devil or

      ‘me ab san+tee; him, man, in passession’ –
      ‘I have sanity (or French ‘santé‘); he, man, is possessed.’

198.18 Emme for your reussischer Honddu jarkon! Tell us in franca

198.19 langua. And call a spate a spate. Did they never sharee you ebro

198.20 at skol, you antiabecedarian? It’s just the same as if I was to go

198.21 par examplum now in conservancy’s cause out of telekinesis and

198.22 proxenete you. For coxyt sake and is that what she is?

The case for Jamaican Creole in line 16 is made immeasurably stronger
by the list of  lingua francas, jargons – and the indirect reference to

‘unwritten’  languages in “antiabecedarian“.
There is an apparent reference to Creole speakers speech styles

in  “And call a spate a spate” which can also be read as
‘and call a spade a spade’ – thus a “Black” reference.

Evidence for this reading of “spate” with a t can also be found at

318.04                         I’ll think uplon, lilady.  .  .  .
318.06   .  .  .   Obsit nemon!

318.12   Ethna Prettyplume, Hooghly Spaight.    .  .  .
318.15 where the lowcasts have aten of amilikan

318.16 honey and datish fruits 
where the “uplon” and the “nemon” and the ‘plum’ and the specifically

Jamaican hoghly ‘ugly’ fruit (a wrinkled variety of grapefruit,

that originated in Jamaica)  figure in this list of (“honey and datish”) fruits
But of course “Hooghly Spaight” is also the racial insult ‘ugly Spade’.

And this list is followed immediately by a reference to Haitian Vodun.

at 198.22-23    “Botlettle I thought she’d act that loa.”

I know this is also a reference to a Spanish loa or Prologue to an Auto

“Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz—poet, prose writer and dramatist—was not the
first colonial Spanish American author to write loas, but her efforts are

superior to those of other Hispanic American writers.1 Most of Sor Juana’s
loas are refined examples of the genre and have a sophistication which permits

them play status. This assessment of her loas can be substantiated by
comparing them to those of her predecessors in Spanish America such as

Fernán González de Eslava and to the loas of Agustín de Rojas Villandrando,
and others, written in Spain prior to Calderón. Calderón, who began

producing loas in 1650, and later Sor Juana, writing in a similar fashion,
changed the loa from a short, simple monologue or dialogue to a longer form

having all the trappings of drama. Although scholars believe that hundreds of
loas were written in Spanish America during the seventeenth century, only

eighteen from that period are extant (AMP, p.6). Since all of the eighteen
remaining seventeenth-century loas are by Sor Juana, she is now considered

the most prolific loa writer of Spanish America.2
from  The loa: One Aspect of the Sorjuanian Mask by A. Daniel Lee

But the loa (as the order of Google search results knows) is the term

– originally from the Fon of Dahomey – for the Gods that the the worshipper
possessed by one of them in a Haitian Vodun ceremony proceeds to

act“.  The dancing involved is described across the page on 199.22

along with an essential element of the Vodun ceremony

Haiti and Jamaica form a pair in Finnegans Wake. Where one finds one

one can expect to find the other nearby.

Thus on page 23 one finds the Jamaican ancestral spirit, the duppy,

performing  a typical duppy action
023.05          And the duppy shot the shutter clup

with a typical West Indian sound adverb – clup,

And below one finds
023.31                                       the louthly one

023.32  whose loab we are devorers of,

expressing in  “loab”   both ‘loa’ and ‘love’

and in “devorers” both the devotion of the worshiper,
and the devouring nature of love.

We find loa again on 102.15 in a religious context

also invoking US Jazz and perhaps some other meanings of the term

102.14                  when Tinktink in the churchclose clinked

102.15 Steploajazzyma Sunday, Sola, with pawns, prelates and pookas

Across the page, as I mentioned, we find

199.21                                            while her

199.22 togglejoints shuck with goyt and as rash as she’d russ with her

199.23 peakload of vivers up on her sieve

which not only describes the dancing style but mentions

the drawings made with flour on the ground to invoke
the Gods, the vevers.



I hope this drawing reproduces.  If there is a gibberish of

code here – please excuse and skip to the bottom of it.

is a Vever?
A symbolic design, formed on the ground                       (in the peristyle)
by sprinkling wheatmeal, cornmeal, or some                  other appropriate powder from the
hand, at or before the                        beginning of a ceremony. Such a design represents a
Loa to be            invoked, and serves both as a focal point for invocation                                and a kind
of altar for offerings. Several vevers of different                         Loa may be drawn for one
ceremony. The designs incorporate              well-recognized traditional elements, but
reflect also the                 individual intentions and creative skill of the Houngan or

What is a Vever, at Voodoo Authentica   LINK   vevers illustrated on                                             left of page.

Of course all this information would have been more commonplace in Paris
in the 1920’s than in the United States.

So the connection of Loa with Haiti and Haitian Vodun and of Haiti

and Jamaica are confirmed. But Joyce gives us the Haiti Jamaica pairing again,

just above theappearance of Anna Livia in her “lapsummer” skirt of leaves.

199.09      You’d think all was dodo belonging to him how he durmed

199.10  adranse in durance vaal.

  “dodo” is both French child language and French Caribbean for ‘sleep’.

‘how he dreamed a dance’.  Adranse is not only a dance – but also the
Ashanti and Jamaican spider trickster Anansi/Ananse, hero of the folktales.

(It maynot be irrelevant that Joyce’s well known dance that he liked to
perform was likened to a spider dance.)

  But “vaal” is also an allusion to the Irish music hall singer, Val Vousden.

whom Joyce remembers in a letter “making a patriarchal entry into the

Black Maria outside Stores St.” (Letters I, 394.F) where one could
backread ‘Black Maria’ as not only a police van but a Vodun allusion. 

Val Vousden also shows up in Finnegans Wake with the last syllable
of his name converted to a Jamaican plural marker (to mark the plurality of

the French ‘vous’ in “Venerable Val Vousdem” (439.17-.18).

  Joyce also connects “dodo” to the hymnal of Sankey and Moody used
in many churches thoughout the British empire, notably in the West

Indies where it is called “The Sankey”, and which Joyce uses as a verb
(French ‘without key’) in “or so they sankeyed. Dodo!” (533.20)

perhaps to capture the singing style.

  Perhaps the east-west route of the slave from Ashanti to Jamaica,

of the middle passage, may be heard –  along with a distant echo of
Ashanti in “will shantey soloweys sang” (330.08) where the ‘Way of

the Sun’ – ‘Sol – O – ways’ is found also in the song,  the ‘Solveig‘ of
Solveig’s Song (Edvard Grieg)

So a main point that I mentioned and think I have demonstrated is that
Joyce has connected all these passages, and altered their relationships

fundamentally, just by these few Swahili entries he added to the galleys.
To do this shows how long term his thinking was in writing FW, and

the amazing mental capacity required to do this.

Didn’t you spot her in her windaug,

198.24   wubbling up on an osiery chair, with a meusic before her all

198.25   cunniform letters, pretending to ribble a reedy derg on a fiddle

198.26   she bogans without a band on? Sure she can’t fiddan a dee, with

198.27   bow or abandon! Sure, she can’t! Tista suck. Well, I never now

198.28   heard the like of that! Tell me moher. Tell me moatst. Well, old

198.29   Humber was as glommen as grampus, with the tares at his thor

198.30   and the buboes for ages and neither bowman nor shot abroad and

198.31   bales allbrant on the crests of rockies and nera lamp in kitchen or

198.32   church and giant’s holes in Grafton’s causeway and deathcap

198.33   mushrooms round Funglus grave and the great tribune’s barrow

198.34   all darnels occumule, sittang sambre on his sett, drammen and

198.35   drommen, usking queasy quizzers of his ruful continence, his

198.36   childlinen scarf to encourage his obsequies where he’d check their



199. 1   debths in that mormon’s thames, be questing and handsetl, hop,

polygamy themes‘ see 628.05

628.05                                    Two more. Onetwo

628.06   moremens more.

199. 2   step and a deepend, with his berths in their toiling moil, his swal-

199. 3   lower open from swolf to fore and the snipes of the gutter pecking

199. 4   his crocs, hungerstriking all alone and holding doomsdag over

199. 5   hunselv, dreeing his weird, with his dander up, and his fringe

199. 6   combed over his eygs and droming on loft till the sight of the

199. 7   sternes, after zwarthy kowse and weedy broeks and the tits of

199. 8   buddy and the loits of pest and to peer was Parish worth thette

199. 9   mess.

You’d think all was dodo belonging to him how he durmed


adranse in durance vaal. He had been belching for severn years.


And there she was, Anna Livia, she darent catch a winkle of


sleep, purling around like a chit of a child, Wendawanda, a finger-


thick, in a Lapsummer skirt and damazon cheeks,for to ishim

199.14   bonzour to her dear dubber Dan. With neuphraties and sault

199.15   from his maggias. And an odd time she’d cook him up blooms

199.16   of fisk and lay to his heartsfoot her meddery eygs, yayis, and

199.17   staynish beacons on toasc and a cupenhave so weeshywashy of

199.18   Greenland’s tay or a dzoupgan of Kaffue mokau an sable or

199.19   Sikiang sukry or his

ale of ferns in trueart pewter and a shin-


kobread (hamjambo, bana?) for to plaise that man hog stay his


stomicker till her pyrraknees shrunk to nutmeg graters while her


togglejoints shuck with goyt and as rash as she’d russ with her


peakload of vivers up on her sieve

(see Dalton above, for the Swahili items in the highlighted passages.)

One response to “Finnegans Wake 198 and 199 – echoes of the Middle Passage and the presence of Jamaican Creole and Haitian Vodun

  1. It is truly a nice and helpful piece of info. I am happy that you shared this helpful info with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

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