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Universal symbol of life and of history, the image of the river makes hundreds of appearances in the Wake, starting with the very first words:

riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.

This opening is also a closing, re-circulating as rain does into the sea, by being the last half of a sentence which is started at the very end of the book. In this circular structure we find echoes of Vico's theory of cyclical history, and of the inexorability of human existence: cities rise and fall, empires expand and crumble, individuals are born and die, each of these replaced by new cities, empires, and people.

The life-giving properties of water are reiterated through frequent reference to alcohol (Guinness especially) and baptism. The same "water of life" (whiskey, from whiskybae, Gaelic uisgebeatha) that toppled a tipsy Finnegan off his ladder revivified the corpse when splashed over him during his wake. On the last page of the book, Tim is called forth to rise with life again: Finn, again! Take.

The Liffey is the first river mentioned by name in the book, and is identified with Irishwoman Anna Livia Plurabelle, ALP. As her Scandinavian husband HCE personifies the city of Dublin (which was founded by Vikings), ALP personifies the river, on whose banks the city was built. In the popular eighth chapter, hundreds of names of rivers are woven into the tale of ALP's life. Joyce universalizes his tale by making HCE and ALP stand, as well, for every city-river pair in the world. And they are, like Adam and Eve, the primeval parents of all the Irish and all humanity.

Pages in category "Rivers"

The following 200 pages are in this category, out of 513 total.

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