the buginning is the woid"
The chapter named "The Ondt and
the Gracehoper" (FW III, 1, pp.414-419) contains numerous insects'
names. Among them, the central figure seems to be a scarab beetle,
neither the ant nor the grasshopper.
Joycean Japan, No.13. The James Joyce Society of Japan, June 16, 2002.
Copyright 2002 Eishiro Ito
@"In the buginning is the woid" (FW378.29)
This passage is a Joycean allusion to
"In the beginning was the Word"(KJV, John 1.1). The protagonist of
Wake, Earwicker, was named after the earwig, that is, a "bug," and
the "woid" was a portmanteau word of "void" and "word." The passage
seems to be an advance announcement of "The Ondt and the Gracehoper" (FW
III, 1; 414.14-419.10).
I. "Bug of the Deaf"
In Joyce's version of Aesop's fable "the
Ant and the Grasshopper," the Ondt=Shaun cunningly stores money and food
while the Gracehoper=Shem always sings gaily about his arts without working.
But the Gracehoper comes to ask the Ondt for some food or money when winter
comes and he cannot earn his living. The Ondt refuses his wish, and
then the Gracehoper begins to sing a song putting the blame on him.
The postscript moral of the original Aesop's fable, "Similarly, in times
of abundance we should plan ahead lest we suffer distress when times change,"
is not to be found here. The Gracehoper's behavior is rather ludicrous:
the way he asks to borrow some money from the Ondt sounds very arrogant.
As many scholars have already pointed out, "ant" spelled "Ondt," means
"evil" in Danish, is an anagram of "Don't," and is close to "aandt" which
means "spirit," "breath" and "intellect" in Danish. The word "Gracehoper"
is of course a mimic word of "grasshopper," which is also related to Joyce's
short story "Grace." It has been suggested that the major part of
the Ondt's character owes to Joyce's brother Stanislaus as well as Wyndham
Lewis. It is agreed that the Gracehoper is Joyce himself.
According to Britannica, The Book of the Dead is:
[the] ancient Egyptian collection of mortuary
texts made up of spells or magic formulas, placed in tombs and believed
to protect and aid the deceased in the hereafter. Probably compiled and
re-edited during the 16th century BC, the collection included Coffin Texts
dating from c. 2000 BC, Pyramid Texts dating from c. 2400 BC, and other
writings. Later compilations included hymns to Re, the sun god. Numerous
authors, compilers, and sources contributed to the work. Scribes copied
the texts on rolls of papyrus, often colourfully illustrated, and sold
them to individuals for burial use. Many copies of the book have been found
in Egyptian tombs, but none contains all of the approximately 200 known
chapters. The collection, literally titled "The Chapters of Coming-Forth-by-Day,"
received its present name from Karl Richard Lepsius, German Egyptologist
who published the first collection of the texts in 1842.(britannica
These texts are for the most part excessively
corrupt, and despite the translations of Pierret, Renouf and Budge, much
labor must yet be expended upon them before they can rank as a first-rate
In The Book of the Dead, the most prominent insect is the scarab beetle or the dung beetle which of course appears in this entomological chapter: "Grouscious me and scarab my sahul!" (or Gracious me and scribe my soul!; FW415.25). Budge notes that the ancient Egyptian people worshipped the scarab beetle and identified it with Khepera(God the Creator):
He is form of the rising sun, and his seat is in the boat of the Sun-god. He is the god of matter which is on the point of passing from inertness into life, and also of the dead body from which a spiritual and glorified body is about to burst forth. His emblem is a beetle.15
Clive Hart insists that this is clearly Shem, the "dirty little blacking beetle"(FW171.30), who "beetles backwards" (FW248.18) and from whose corrupting body all artistic life flows.16 Shem characterizes himself in this chapter as "not a leetle beetle"(FW417.03; or "Great Beetle") and later he describes himself as "quite a big bug"(FW596.27). The scarab beetle is a central figure among numerous insects in this entomological chapter and is a link between this chapter and The Book of the Dead. Shem (Gracehoper) or Joyce used some citations from the Koran to persuade Shaun (Ondt) or Wyndham Lewis, and used some mocking Christian blessing to preach the resurrection of the dead and the eternity of the art in the end of the chapter. The scarab beetle appears in this chapter only one time, but many other beetles are mentioned here, like cantharides (FW415.09), sexton beetle (FW416.13), brouk (FW416.15), chrysomelidae (FW416.26), "a leetle beetle"(FW417.04), zhuk (FW417.30), primpeallian (FW418.19). We should also pay attention to "dung" references, for instance, "durrydunglecks"(FW416.11), sterus (FW416.22), merda (FW418.10). In addition, his form of rising sun is mentioned many times: retrophoebia (FW415.10), Ra (FW415.11-12), "sunsunsuns" (FW415.22), "Nichtsnichtsunnichts!"(FW416.17), "nissuntimost"(FW417.05), "sunnyroom" (FW417.14), "antboat" (FW418.05-06). All of these words are links between the insects described here and The Book of the Dead. The scarab beetle is also described as "deleteful hour of dungflies dawning"(FW118.32). This image also relates the artist to Khopri or Khepri, the scarab god himself, as Mark L. Troy points out in Mummeries of Resurrection (83). In addition, the English word "bug" was spelled "bugge" which meant a generic name for beetles, grubs, etc. (OED2). As Troy presumes, Joyce's development of his scarab images may well be based on a personal knowledge of their impressiveness when rendered in stone, for we know that he was greatly impressed by the Egyptian statuary in the British Museum(83).17 Present in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery (Room 4 north) since 1834, is the 152.5 cm-length greenish dolerite scarab beetle (see below), which probably contributes to the image conjured by such phrases as "not a leetle beetle" (FW417.03) and "quite a big bug"(FW596.27).
II. The "bugs" in Progress
Unlike Ulysses, which also passed
through innumerable writing stages, it is possible to survey and document
the draft and proofs of "The Ondt and the Gracehoper" stage by stage, from
the "First Draft" to the 1939 text.
Joyce changed and rephrased some words
elaborately, but since the transition typescript, he basically tried to
leave most words as they appeared in the text for the first time until
the final text without omitting or greatly changing the word order.
In other words, the work Joyce did for the text is "insertion" from transition
to the 1939 text. He inserted words in some parts mostly to keep
a balance between one part and its counterpart. He sometimes put
many terms of a particular field into the text at one time. I put
the typescript of the transition on Level 02.1 in the above table because
there seems to be no correction in this chapter since Level 02: transition
is Level 02.2. The dates of Level 06 and Level 07 are unknown in
The James Joyce Archive, but the revisions of the first set of pages were
possibly begun in 1933-1934, and were completed by 1 July 1936.
III. "why can't you beat time?"
Umberto Eco explains in The Aesthetics of Chaosmos:
In the chapter in which Shaun the postman pleads against Shem the penman, Joyce recounts the fable of The Ondt and the Gracehoper (The Ant and Grasshopper). Shaun identifies with the thrifty ant and denounces in Shem the thoughtlessness of the grasshopper. But in the heart of Shaun's pejoration, Joyce extols the "Gracehoper," the artist turned towards the future, towards growth and development. Shem is thus symbolized by the tree and traditionalist immobility of the ant is symbolized by the stone, "ant" being deformed into "ondt" which signifies "evil" in Danish (70).21
Joyce=Gracehoper sings the ballads like
Tim Finnegan or spends his days composing "Finnegans Wake." After
thus follows: "For if scienciumc can mute uns nought, 'a thought, abought
the Great Sommboddy within the Omniboss, perhops an artsaccordc might
sing ums tumtim abutt the Little Newbuddies that ring his panch"(or For
if sciencec can mute us nought a thought of the Great Somebody within
the Omnipotent, perhaps a harpsichord might sing us something about the
little new bodies that ring his paunch). For this reason, the grasshopper
sings, "hoppyc of his joyicity"(FW414.22-23; or happilyc in his
Joycean way). The Ondt, on the other hand, is a serious chairman
and "is opposed to adventure in time, claiming the primacy, the solidity,
and the inalterability of space" (Eco 72; cf. FW416.04-08).
Joyce implicated the argument with Wyndham Lewis here.
To Eugene Jolas's mind, doubtlessly,
the closest was Joyce, or "Work in Progress." It was considered that
there were two vectors for "the abolition of the time": one is "the pan-time
sense" and the other is "the anti-time sense."
The "buginning" story becomes "void"
or "woid," which is the beginning and also the end. "In the buginning
is the woid" meta-reflects the novel's circular structure that begins with
"riverrun" and ends with "the": and then the readers recirculate back to
"riverrun." The insects were metaphorically scattered not only
in this entomological chapter but also in other chapters. In addition,
the multi-lingual names of insects interwoven in the texture are associated
with the multi-lingual portmanteau words of Finnegans Wake.
In this sense "The Ondt and the Gracehoper" chapter is an important key
to solve the riddles and enigmas of the novel.
This essay is based on the
paper presented for "Finnegans Wake Workshop:
1 Another conspicuous
thing is the use of Danish or other North-European languages.
Aesop. The Complete
Fables. Trans. Olivia & Robert Temple. Penguin Classics.
List of Selected Abbreviations
[A] = McHugh, Roland. Annotations to "Finnegans Wake."
2nd ed. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University, 1991.
[AI] = Wall, Richard. An Anglo-Irish Dialect Glossary for Joyce's Works.
Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe, 1986.
[CL] = O Hehir, Brendan & John M. Dillon. A Classical Lexicon for "Finnegans Wake."
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977.
[GaeL] = O Hehir, Brendan. A Gaelic Lexicon for "Finnegans Wake."
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.
[GerL] = Bonheim, Helmut. A Lexicon of the German in "Finnegans Wake."
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967.
[MR] = Troy, Mark L. Mummeries of Resurrection: The Cycle of Osiris in "Finnegans Wake."
Doctoral Dissertation at the University of Uppsala, 1976.
[RG] = Tindall, William York. A Reader's Guide to "Finnegans Wake."
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1969.
[SE] = Chiristiani, Dounia Bunis. Scandinavian Elements of "Finnegans Wake."
Evanstone: Northwestern University Press, 1965.
[TC] = Glasheen, Adaline. Third Census of "Finnegans Wake."
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977.
[TDP] = Burns, Edward M. with Joshua A. Gaylord eds. A Tour of the Darkling Plain:
The "Finnegans Wake" Letters of Thornton Wilder and Adaline Glasheen.
Dublin: University College Dublin Press, 2001.
Ondt and Gracehoper - a recension of La Fontaine's fable which proves Prudence is the Best Policy. Joyce toes the original story line: spendthrift and life-enjoying Gracehoper (Shem) has fun with girls and dancing in this world, but is starved in heaven where the Prudent Manichean Ondt gets goodies and houris and will not feed hungry Gracehoper - see Dives and Lazarus. The last jeer is with the Gracehoper (turned into one of those bards who jeered at close-fisted Irish kings) who says the rewards of prudence are second-hand girls. Ondt is Danish "evil," is an anagram of "don't," is almost an anagram of Dante; "Ondt" is often aandt, Danish "spirit," "breath," "intellect" which ties Ondt to Wyndham Lewis (see also Nous). For "Gracehoper," see Grace O'Malley and see Joyce's Dubliners story, "Grace": like "Grace," "The Ondt and the Gracehoper" is a kind of divine comedy.@ "The Ondt and the Gracehoper" is a companion fable to "The Mookse and the Gripes". Vico held fable to be the work of a discontented slave class. The prudence of the Ondt may owe much to Stanislaus Joyce. The fable is filled with names of insects. [TC]
The FABLE of the Ondt and the Gracehoper, a delight in
many languages, is considerably, if not predominantly, Danish. Observe
that Shaun, himself an Ondt "pain," characterizes Shem's "root" language
in totally Norse?not rude?thunder and Shem in terms equally applicable
So be it; Soviet [A] F chanson: song Du moed:courage[A]
It it: you so you are [A] I Sean(shan): Da Mod:courage[SE]
@@@@@@@ @(Abl.) vi + L et: with force and[CL] John[GaeL]
414.15: Hold forth !
414.16: -- I apologuise,
Shaun began, but I would rather spinooze
414.17: you one from the grimm
gests of Jacko and Esaup, fable one,
414.18: feeble too. Let us
here consider the casus, my dear little cousis
414.21: the Gracehoper.
414.22: The Gracehoper
was always jigging ajog, hoppy on akkant
414.23: of his joyicity, (he
had a partner pair of findlestilts to supplant
414.24: him), or, if not,
he was always making ungraceful overtures to
414.25: Floh and Luse and
Bienie and Vespatilla to play pupa-pupa and
414.26: pulicy-pulicy and
langtennas and pushpygyddyum and to com-
414.27: mence insects with
him, there mouthparts to his orefice and his
414.28: gambills to there
airy processes, even if only in chaste, ameng
414.29: the everlistings,
behold a waspering pot. He would of curse
414.30: melissciously, by
his fore feelhers, flexors, contractors, depres-
414.31: sors and extensors,
lamely, harry me, marry me, bury me, bind
414.32: me, till she was puce
for shame and allso fourmish her in Spin-
414.33: ner's housery at the
earthsbest schoppinhour so summery as his
414.34: cottage, which was
cald fourmillierly Tingsomingenting, groped
414.35: up. Or, if he was
always striking up funny funereels with Bester-
414.36: farther Zeuts, the
Aged One, With all his wigeared corollas, albe-
415.01: dinous and oldbuoyant,
inscythe his elytrical wormcasket and
415.02: Dehlia and Peonia,
his druping nymphs, bewheedling him, com-
415.03: pound eyes on hornitosehead,
and Auld Letty Plussiboots to
415.04: scratch his cacumen
and cackle his tramsitus, diva deborah (seven
415.05: bolls of sapo, a lick
of lime, two spurts of fussfor, threefurts of
415.06: sulph, a shake o'shouker,
doze grains of migniss and a mesfull of
415.07: midcap pitchies. The
whool of the whaal in the wheel of the
415.08: whorl of the Boubou
from Bourneum has thus come to taon!),
415.09: and with tambarins
and cantoridettes soturning around his eggs-
415.10: hill rockcoach their
dance McCaper in retrophoebia, beck from
415.11: bulk, like fantastic
disossed and jenny aprils, to the ra, the ra, the
415.12: ra, the ra, langsome
heels and langsome toesis, attended to by a
415.13: mutter and doffer
duffmatt baxingmotch and a myrmidins of
415.14: pszozlers pszinging
Satyr's Caudledayed Nice and Hombly,
415.15: Dombly Sod We Awhile
but Ho, Time Timeagen, Wake! @For if
415.16: sciencium (what's
what) can mute uns nought, 'a thought,
415.17: abought the Great
Sommboddy within the Omniboss, perhops an
415.18: artsaccord (hoot's
hoot) might sing ums tumtim abutt the Little
415.19: Newbuddies that ring
his panch. A high old tide for the bar-
415.20: heated publics and
the whole day as gratiis! Fudder and lighting
415.21: for ally looty, any
filly in a fog, for O'Cronione lags acrumbling
415.22: in his sands but his
sunsunsuns still tumble on. Erething above
415.23: ground, as his Book
of Breathings bed him, so as everwhy, sham
415.24: or shunner, zeemliangly
to kick time.
me and scarab my sahul! What a bagateller it is!
415.26: Libelulous! Inzanzarity!
Pou! Pschla! Ptuh! What a zeit for the
415.27: goths! vented the
Ondt, who, not being a sommerfool, was
415.28: thothfolly making
chilly spaces at hisphex affront of the icinglass
415.29: of his windhame, which
was cold antitopically Nixnixundnix.
415.30: We shall not come
to party at that lopp's, he decided possibly,
415.31: for he is not on our
social list. Nor to Ba's berial nether, thon
415.32: sloghard, this oldeborre's
yaar ablong as there's a khul on a khat.
415.33: Nefersenless, when
he had safely looked up his ovipository, he
415.34: loftet hails and prayed:
May he me no voida water! Seekit Ha-
415.35: tup! May no he me
tile pig shed on! Suckit Hotup! As broad as
415.36: Beppy's realm shall
flourish my reign shall flourish! As high as
416.01: Heppy's hevn shall
flurrish my haine shall hurrish! Shall grow,
416.02: shall flourish! Shall
416.03: The Ondt
was a weltall fellow, raumybult and abelboobied,
416.04: bynear saw altitudinous
wee a schelling in kopfers. He was sair
416.05: sair sullemn and chairmanlooking
when he was not making spaces
416.06: in his psyche, but,
laus ! when he wore making spaces on his ikey,
416.07: he ware mouche mothst
secred and muravyingly wisechairman-
416.08: looking. Now whim
the sillybilly of a Gracehoper had jingled
416.09: through a jungle of
love and debts and jangled through a jumble
416.10: of life in doubts
afterworse, wetting with the bimblebeaks, drik-
416.11: king with nautonects,
bilking with durrydunglecks and horing
416.12: after ladybirdies
(ichnehmon diagelegenaitoikon) he fell joust as
416.13: sieck as a sexton
and tantoo pooveroo quant a churchprince, and
416.14: wheer the midges to
wend hemsylph or vosch to sirch for grub
416.15: for his corapusse
or to find a hospes, alick, he wist gnit! Bruko
416.16: dry! fuko spint! Sultamont
osa bare! And volomundo osi vide-
416.17: vide! Nichtsnichtsundnichts!
Not one pickopeck of muscow-
416.18: money to bag a tittlebits
of beebread! Iomio! Iomio! Crick's
416.19: corbicule, which a
plight! O moy Bog, he contrited with melan-
416.20: ctholy. Meblizzered,
him sluggered! I am heartily hungry!
416.21: He had
eaten all the whilepaper, swallowed the lustres, de-
416.22: voured forty flights
of styearcases, chewed up all the mensas and
416.23: seccles, ronged the
records, made mundballs of the ephemerids
416.24: and vorasioused most
glutinously with the very timeplace in the
416.25: ternitary -- not too
dusty a cicada of neutriment for a chittinous
416.26: chip so mitey. But
when Chrysalmas was on the bare branches,
416.27: off he went from Tingsomingenting.
He took a round stroll and
416.28: he took a stroll round
and he took a round strollagain till the
416.29: grillies in his head
and the leivnits in his hair made him thought
416.30: he had the Tossmania.
Had he twicycled the sees of the deed
416.31: and trestraversed
their revermer? Was he come to hevre with his
416.32: engiles or gone to
hull with the poop? The June snows was
416.33: flocking in thuckflues
on the hegelstomes, millipeeds of it and
416.34: myriopoods, and a
lugly whizzling tournedos, the Boraborayel-
416.35: ]ers, blohablasting
tegolhuts up to tetties and ruching sleets off
416.36: the coppeehouses,
playing ragnowrock rignewreck, with an irri-
417.01: tant, penetrant, siphonopterous
spuk. Grausssssss! Opr!
417.02: Grausssssss! Opr!
417.03: The Gracehoper
who, though blind as batflea, yet knew, not
417.04: a leetle beetle, his
good smetterling of entymology asped niss-
417.05: unitimost lous nor
liceens but promptly tossed himself in the
417.06: vico, phthin and phthir,
on top of his buzzer, tezzily wondering
417.07: wheer would his aluck
alight or boss of both appease and the
417.08: next time he makes
the aquinatance of the Ondt after this they
417.09: have met themselves,
these mouschical umsummables, it shall be
417.10: motylucky if he will
beheld not a world of differents. Behailed
417.11: His Gross the Ondt,
prostrandvorous upon his dhrone, in his
417.12: Papylonian babooshkees,
smolking a spatial brunt of Hosana
417.13: cigals, with unshrinkables
farfalling from his unthinkables,
417.14: swarming of himself
in his sunnyroom, sated before his com-
417.15: fortumble phullupsuppy
of a plate o'monkynous and a confucion
417.16: of minthe (for he
was a conformed aceticist and aristotaller), as
417.17: appi as a oneysucker
or a baskerboy on the Libido, with Floh
417.18: biting his leg thigh
and Luse lugging his luff leg and Bieni bussing
417.19: him under his bonnet
and Vespatilla blowing cosy fond tutties
417.20: up the allabroad length
of the large of his smalls. As entomate
417.21: as intimate could
pinchably be. Emmet and demmet and be jiltses
417.22: crazed and be jadeses
whipt! schneezed the Gracehoper, aguepe
417.23: with ptchjelasys and
at his wittol's indts, what have eyeforsight!
417.24: The Ondt,
that true and perfect host, a spiter aspinne, was
417.25: making the greatest
spass a body could with his queens lace-
417.26: swinging for he was
spizzing all over him like thingsumanything
417.27: in formicolation,
boundlessly blissfilled in an allallahbath of
417.28: houris. He was ameising
himself hugely at crabround and mary-
417.29: pose, chasing Floh
out of charity and tickling Luse, I hope too,
417.30: and tackling Bienie,
faith, as well, and jucking Vespatilla jukely
417.31: by the chimiche. Never
did Dorsan from Dunshanagan dance it
417.32: with more devilry!
The veripatetic imago of the impossible
417.33: Gracehoper on his
odderkop in the myre, after his thrice ephe-
417.34: meral journeeys, sans
mantis ne shooshooe, featherweighed
417.35: animule, actually
and presumptuably sinctifying chronic's de-
417.36: spair, was sufficiently
and probably coocoo much for his chorous
418.01: of gravitates. Let
him be Artalone the Weeps with his parisites
eLord Iveagh once cashed a sevenfigure cheque for a million in the bank
418.02: peeling off him I'll
be Highfee the Crackasider. Flunkey Footle
418.03: furloughed foul, writing
off his phoney, but Conte Carme makes
418.04: the melody that mints
the money. @Ad majorem l.s.d.! Divi gloriam.
418.05: A darkener of the
threshold. Haru? Orimis, capsizer of his ant-
418.06: boat, sekketh rede
from Evil-it-is, lord of loaves in Amongded.
Book of the Dead CXXII: e"Evil is it" is the name of the rudder....
Let me... go in peace
418.07: Be it ! So be it !
Thou-who-thou-art, the fleet-as-spindhrift,
418.08: impfang thee of mine
418.09: The thing
pleased him andt, and andt,
418.10: He larved ond he larved
on he merd such a nauses
418.11: The Gracehoper feared
he would mixplace his fauces.
418.12: I forgive you, grondt
Ondt, said the Gracehoper, weeping,
418.13: For their sukes of
the sakes you are safe in whose keeping.
418.14: Teach Floh and Luse
polkas, show Bienie where's sweet
418.15: And be sure Vespatilla
fines fat ones to heat.
418.16: As I once played the
piper I must now pay the count
418.17: So saida to Moyhammlet
and marhaba to your Mount!
418.18: Let who likes lump
above so what flies be a full 'un;
418.19: I could not feel moregruggy
if this was prompollen.
418.20: I pick up your reproof,
the horsegift of a friend,
418.21: For the prize of your
save is the price of my spend.
418.22: Can castwhores pulladeftkiss
if oldpollocks forsake 'em
418.23: Or Culex feel etchy
if Pulex don't wake him?
418.24: A locus to loue, a
term it t'embarass,
418.25: These twain are the
twins that tick Homo Vulgaris.
418.26: Has Aquileone nort
winged to go syf
418.27: Since the Gwyfyn we
were in his farrest drewbryf
418.28: And that Accident
Man not beseeked where his story ends
418.29: Since longsephyring
sighs sought heartseast for their orience?
418.30: We are Wastenot with
Want, precondamned, two and true,
418.31: Till Nolans go volants
and Bruneyes come blue.
418.32: Ere those gidflirts
now gadding you quit your mocks for my gropes
418.33: An extense must impull,
an elapse must elopes,
418.34: Of my tectucs takestock,
tinktact, and ail's weal;
418.35: As I view by your
farlook hale yourself to my heal.
419.01: Partiprise my thinwhins
whiles my blink points unbroken on
419.02: Your whole's whercabroads
with Tout's trightyright token on.
419.03: My in risible universe
youdly haud find
419.04: Sulch oxtrabeeforeness
meat soveal behind.
419.05: Your feats end enormous,
your volumes immense,
419.06: (May the Graces I
hoped for sing your Ondtship song sense!),
419.07: Your genus its worldwide,
your spacest sublime!
419.08: But, Holy Saltmartin,
why can't you beat time?
419.09: In the
name of the former and of the latter and of their holo-
419.10: caust. Allmen.