In the ‘Yawn’ chapter of Finnegans Wake, a heroic effort is under way to obtain some factual information. The method employed is recognisably catechistic, a series of interviews undertaken by the Four Old Men (‘Those four claymen clomb together to hold their sworn starchamber quiry’ — FW p. 475, 11. 18–19) of the buried body of Shaun/Yawn, resulting in a sequence of various voices responding to their questions. This quartet of ‘Shanators’ conducts its seance on a hill in County Meath under frustrating circumstances, especially when the Yawn voice is inexplicably replaced by that of Anna Livia Plurabelle, followed by an anonymous witness, then another, and then (in rapid succession) Issy, Kate and Earwicker himself. The claymen prove to be ineffectual and they too are supplanted — by ‘bright young chaps of the brandnew braintrust’ (FW, p. 529, 1. 5). Even when the reader feels confident in identifying the sources of the question asked and the answer given, the multiplicity of voices remains confusing and does little to clarify the ‘information’ obtained.
KeywordsAmid Posit Straw Trench Triad
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