On this day…2 April

On 2 April 1931 Haveth Childers Everywhere was published by Faber & Faber in London.

Haveth Childers Everywhere consisted of the final part of what is now chapter 3 of book III of Finnegans Wake. In it, HCE is finally allowed a chance to defend himself against the various charges that have been made against him. Stuttering through his defence, he claims he is clean-living and of good character, and points to his two greatest achievements: his marriage to Anna Livia and the founding of a great city.

Though published by Faber & Faber in April 1931, some of the material appeared for the first time in transition no. 15 in February 1929, but there is a big difference between what appeared in transition and what appeared in book form later. The incentive for this major revision was the offer from Jack Kahane and Henry Babou to publish some of Work in Progress in book form.

Jack Kahane was the founder of the Obelisk Press, based at the rue Saint-Honoré in Paris. The Press published literary texts by modernists authors such as Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, and Richard Aldington, as well as a range of erotica. Kahane and his partner Henry Babou offered to publish part of Joyce’s Work in Progress in book form at a time when Joyce was suffering something of a crisis in his writing.

To overcome this crisis, and to produce something for Kahane and Babou, Joyce settled on a simple strategy. He chose thirty international cities and had his friends, including Stuart Gilbert and Helen Fleischmann, read to him the entries on those cities from the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. While they were reading, Joyce would pick out the names of streets, squares, and parks in those cities, and create puns on them. In a similar fashion, Joyce used Thom’s Street Directory for Dublin, creating puns using street names and the names of former mayors of Dublin. These lists of puns became the basis for Haveth Childers Everywhere.

Stuart Gilbert, who helped Joyce with this work, was sceptical about it. On one hand, he thought it was too easy for Joyce to pick out names and create puns on them. On the other hand, he felt it would be impossible for readers to understand what Joyce had done, and he felt the puns would simply distract readers’ attention.

Kahane and Babou’s edition of Haveth Childers Everywhere was published in Paris, and by the Fountain Press in New York, in June 1930. It was this text that Faber & Faber published on 2 April 1931.

 

Sources & Further Reading:

Crispi, Luca, & Sam Slote (eds): How Joyce Wrote Finnegans Wake – A Chapter-by-Chapter Genetic Guide, Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2007.

Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – New and Revised edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Fargnoli, A Nicholas, & Michael Patrick Gillespie: James Joyce – A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, New York: Checkmark Books, 2006.

 

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