-- A father, Stephen said, battling against hopelessness, is a necessary evil. He wrote the play in the months that followed his father's death. If you hold that he, a greying man with two marriageable daughters, with thirtyfive years of life, nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, with fifty of experience, is the beardless undergraduate from Wittenberg then you must hold that his seventyyear old mother is the lustful queen. No. The corpse of John Shakespeare does not walk the night. From hour to hour it rots and rots. He rests, disarmed of fatherhood, having devised that mystical estate upon his son. Boccaccio's Calandrino was the first and last man who felt himself with child. Fatherhood, in the sense of conscious begetting, is unknown to man. It is a mystical estate, an apostolic succession, from only begetter to only begotten. On that mystery and not on the madonna which the cunning Italian intellect flung to the mob of Europe the church is founded and founded irremovably because founded, like the world, macro- and microcosm, upon the void. Upon incertitude, upon unlikelihood. Amor matris, subjective and objective genitive, may be the only true thing in life. Paternity may be a legal fiction. Who is the father of any son that any son should love him or he any son?
What the hell are you driving at?
I know. Shut up. Blast you! I have reasons.
Amplius. Adhuc. Iterum. Postea.
Are you condemned to do this?
-- They are sundered by a bodily shame so steadfast that the criminal annals of the world, stained with all other incests and bestialities, hardly record its breach. Sons with mothers, sires with daughters, lesbic sisters, loves that dare not speak their name, nephews with grandmothers, jailbirds with keyholes, queens with prize bulls. The sun unborn mars beauty: born, he brings pain, divides affection, increases care. He is a male: his growth is his father's decline, his youth his father's envy, his friend his father's enemy.
In rue Monsieur-le-Prince I thought it.
-- What links them in nature? An instant of blind rut. Am I father? If I were?
Shrunken uncertain hand.
-- Sabellius, the African, subtlest heresiarch of all the beasts of the field, held that the Father was Himself His Own Son. The bulldog of Aquin, with whom no word shall be impossible, refutes him. Well: if the father who has not a son be not a father can the son who has not a father be a son? When Rutlandbaconsouthamptonshakespeare or another poet of the same name in the comedy of errors wrote Hamlet he was not the father of his own son merely but, being no more a son, he was and felt himself the father of all his race, the father of his own grandfather, the father of his unborn grandson who, by the same token, never was born for nature, as Mr Magee understands her, abhors perfection.
Eglintoneyes, quick with pleasure, looked up shybrightly. Gladly glancing, a merry puritan, through the twisted eglantine.
Flatter. Rarely. But Flatter.
-- Himself his own father, Sonmulligan told himself. Wait. I am big with child. I have an unborn child in my brain. Pallas Athena! A play! The play's the thing! Let me parturiate!
He clasped his paunchbrow with both birthaiding hands.
-- As for his family, Stephen said, his mother's name lives in the forest of Arden. Her death brought from him the scene with Volumnia in Coriolanus. His boyson's death is the deathscene of young Arthur in King John. Hamlet, the black prince, is Hamnet Shakespeare. Who the girls in The Tempest, in Pericles, in Winter's Tale are we know. Who Cleopatra, fleshpot of Egypt, and Cressid and Venus are we may guess. But there is another member of his family who is recorded.
-- The plot thickens, John Eglinton said.
The quaker librarian, quaking, tiptoed in, quake, his mask, quake, with haste, quake, quack.
Door closed. Cell. Day.
They list. Three. They.
I you he they.
STEPHEN He had three brothers, Gilbert, Edmund, Richard. Gilbert in his old age told some cavaliers he got a pass for nowt from Maister Gatherer one time mass he did and he seen his brud Maister Wull the playwriter up in Lunnon in a wrastling play wud a man on's back. The playhouse sausage filled Gilbert's soul. He is nowhere: but an Edmund and a Richard are recorded in the works of sweet William.
MAGEEGLINJOHN Names! What's in a name?
BEST That is my name, Richard, don't you know. I hope you are going to say a good word for Richard, don't you know, for my sake.
BUCK MULLIGAN (Piano, diminuendo.)
Then outspoke medical Dick
To his comrade medical Davy...
STEPHEN In his trinity of black Wills, the villain shakebags, Iago, Richard Crookback, Edmund in King Lear, two bear the wicked uncles' names. Nay, that last play was written or being written while his brother Edmund lay dying in Southwark.
BEST I hope Edmund is going to catch it. I don't want Richard, my name.
QUAKERLYSTER (A tempo.) But he that filches from me my good name...
STEPHEN (Stringendo.) He has hidden his own name, a fair name, William, in the plays, a super here, a clown there, as a painter of old Italy set his face in a dark corner of his canvas. He has revealed it in the sonnets where there is Will in overplus. Like John O'Gaunt his name is dear to him, as dear as the coat of arms he toadied for, on a bend sable a spear or steeled argent, honorificabilitudinitatibus, dearer than his glory of greatest shakescene in the country. What's in a name? That is what we ask ourselves in childhood when we write the name that we are told is ours. A star, a daystar, a firedrake rose at his birth. It shone by day in the heavens alone, brighter than Venus in the night, and by night it shone over delta in Cassiopeia, the recumbent constellation which is the signature of his initial among the stars. His eyes watched it, lowlying on the horizon, eastward of the bear, as he walked by the slumberous summer fields at midnight, returning from Shottery and from her arms.
Both satisfied. I too.
Don't tell them he was nine years old when it was quenched.
And from her arms.