Frederick, Elector Palatine and Elizabeth Stuart
Week Nine (pg. 105-138 Hilaritas edition or Part Two, Chapter 1&2 all editions)
By Gregory Arnott, special guest blogger
I have to apologize for being late this week- I’ve started a new job that required a lot of planning last week in anticipation for the next. Regrettably these two chapters contain an extraordinary amount of information and this will be a short write up.
Chapter 1 moves the action to Ireland and introduces us to Simon Moon’s ancestor, Seamus Muadhen. This chapter was presumably written while RAW was living in Ireland and his interest, enthusiasm, and expertise on Irish history is on full display. On the first page alone we are given a vivid slice of history that is mind boggling, especially when one is considering annotation. Naturally much of the subjects brought up are of interest to Joyce scholars; Howth and Vico Road are both in the famous opening line of Finnegans Wake, the discussion of Hamlet is the subject of one of my favorite parts of Ulysses, “Scylla and Charybdis,” and we are provided with Dedalus’ famous opinion on history via Muadhen’s musings. Dalkey Island, where Seamus is introduced to conspiracy and a different fate than his Plan’s intentions, shares a name with Flann O’Brien’s novel The Dalkey Archive which was the first published appearance of de Selby. I’m sure some of the readers caught more relations than I did and am looking forward to reading about them!
RAW gives us a handful of the atrocities committed by the English against the Irish as Muadhen boats about the bay but balances these accounts; he makes sure to mention the James II and Edward Charles Stuart weren’t the Romantic figures of Jacobite lore and that the violence between Catholics and Protestants are an ugly cycle. I remember while studying in my Tudor and Stuart History seminar the point made by my professor about the reign of Queen Mary and why exactly the English would never suffer another Catholic to sit the throne. Maybe it’s my affection for John Dee, whom she imprisoned, but Mary has always struck me as an abnormally ugly figure in history and I’ve always hated the revisionist attempts to paint her otherwise in popular history. There are many stories being told in this chapter.
Interestingly enough, in the long footnote concerning the Rosicrucians in Chapter 2 RAW doesn’t mention that part of Dame Yates’ study of the marriage of Elizabeth of England and Frederick V in the light of the Rosicrucian hoax/heresy/revelations focuses on the implications for the balance of power between Protestantism and Catholicism on the Continent. According to Yates, it was widely hoped that the marriage between Frederick and James Stuart’s daughter would ensure Protestant British support if and when the Elector Palatine challenged the Catholic Habsburg hegemony over some strongly Protestant German/central European states. The joke was on them because James evidently didn’t give a shit and the Winter King was defeated at the Battle of White Mountain which served as an overture to the Thirty Years War. But they sure got those Habsburg ambassadors when they tossed them out the window.
We are (re)introduced to Wilson’s historically accurate portrait of Washington as a hemp-smoking, taciturn, and all-around-bizarre giant of a man. Aside from Wilson, Thomas Pynchon’s George Washington is also a pot-smoking gentleman whose views on liberty and slavery are drawn into sharp contrast while he meets and discusses all-and-everything with Mason and Dixon in the novel of the same name. Although the scene is improved in Pynchon’s novel by the inclusion of a slave character who is Jewish and much smarter than the other three men, a situation he begins to take advantage of when the grass starts burning.
In the Bastille Sigismundo is going through all the emotions that one would expect a new prisoner to experience: regret, desperation, sorrow, fear, and the need for a shoulder to cry on. Thankfully he is provided with the council of Father Benoit, a Fellow in the Craft. Sigismundo is again able to find strength in his training and initiations.
In de Selby news we find out that the Professor Hanfkopf has most likely murdered O’Broichain, La Puta, and Le Monade. If they were ever real in the first place.
From Eric Wagner: “I thought this week we would use the song Seamus thinks about on page 120.”