f all the techniques that Joyce used to write Finnegans Wake, the most useful to the poor hapless reader must be that of repetition. Every story told through the course of the book essentially reiterates a single sequence of events. So the rise and fall of the great Finnegan which dominated chapter one was the primeval, mythic expression of a story that will recur again and again throughout the rest of the book.
And so we come to chapter two, one of the most approachable sequences of the whole book, which begins the story of Finnegan’s replacement, alluded to at the end of the previous chapter. This is Mr. H.C. Earwicker, part-publican, part-politician, all-round eminent Dublin gentleman, popularly known as Here Comes Everybody (“constantly the same as and equal to himself and magnificently well worthy of and all such universalisation”). But no sooner has Earwicker’s tenure begun than does he begin to relive the sorry fate of his predecessor, assailed by enemies both real and imagined.
Despite his good breeding and heroic reputation, Mr. Earwicker is plagued by rumours of a mysterious crime that supposedly took place in Dublin’s conveniently-named Phoenix Park, possibly involving two urinating young women, or three soldiers, or perhaps all five together.
It remains unclear exactly what this crime was, as well as whether HCE actually did it, although he certainly seems to feel guilty about something. When he is confronted in the park by a young “cad with a pipe” who asks him the time, he unaccountably takes the question as a threat, and launches into a confused defense of his character.
This eccentric performance proves his downfall, however. Later that day, the cad tells his wife of his encounter. The next day, she tells her priest, who tells a professor at the races. Before long, the entire town is spreading the gossip. When it reaches the ears of a disreputable type of poetic tendencies named Hosty, he loses no time in penning and publishing a satirical song at Earwicker’s expense. Entitled “The Ballad of Persse O’Reilly”, it’s an instant hit, it seems to spell the end for our hero.
WHATEVER WILL HAPPEN NEXT?!
I know, I know, it’s a nailbiter. But you’ll just have to wait.
CHAPTER TWO INDEX