J3.03 Round the Bend

Annotations for Jerusalem by Alan Moore
Book 3 – Vernall’s Inquest – Round the Bend

  • This chapter’s almost-cryptically dense style is inspired by that which James Joyce used in Finnegans Wake. Practically every word has been reshaped to create layers of puns and allusions. This density will require special treatment to annotate.
  • Firstly, due to length, this will be broken up into multiple pages (one for each narrative section), then paragraphs, sentences, and, finally, notes on individual words and phrases.
  • Each section will be headed by a very brief summary of the action, followed by general notes upon the main characters and themes of that section.
  • Each paragraph will be headed by a “translation” of that paragraph into straightforward English. This translation should not be considered “definitive”; the very nature of the layered text makes such a thing impossible. At least two other such “translations” have been made prior to ours, and all three are different.
    • Speaking of non-definitive-ness, for this chapter’s notes, we are more than ever open to contributions from commenters. In a text this deliberately multi-layered, it is difficult to say that any given interpretation is “not relevant”.
    • Also, being immersed in his chapter tends to… alter… one’s perception of language. If you spot a typo, or places where the annotation doesn’t make sense, please don’t hesitate to request a fix.
  • This chapter’s viewpoint character is Lucia Anna Joyce (1907-1982).
  • To the extent that the chapter can be said to take place at a specific time, it is xxx. At this time, Lucia was an inmate at St Andrews Hospital in Northampton (where she was incarcerated from 1951 until her death).
  • The chapter title “Round the Bend”, is a common expression meaning “crazy”. The question of the difference between sane and crazy is important throughout Jerusalem, and is central to this chapter.
    • Throughout Jerusalem, Moore plays with the concepts of “bends” and “angles”, often in reference to higher-dimensional spaces that “normal” people cannot perceive.
    • A “Bend” is usually sharp, in contrast to the curved, circular imagery of “Round”.
    • Lucia’s journey in this chapter is a round circle, ending where she began, back in her hospital. In a larger sense, Moore’s Eternalism posits that all our journeys are circular in the same manner, always returning to our beginnings.

Section 1 – Illusionary Giorgio Joyce

Section 2 – John Clare

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  • The song is “You Are My Asylum” – by Alan Moore, Downtown Joe Brown and the Retro Spankees.

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13 thoughts on “J3.03 Round the Bend”

  1. »Au goat! Know elmparking redding ›Round the Bend‹-cheap tear, wittitt’s Shame Choice inspirited Lewzzi Libb lounge age. Eye hopp my saintancy fill nut soff er tomb autsch.« — That I wrote on ›Goodreads‹ when I started this chapter.
    With phonetics molded along a heavy Irish brogue and spiced with »Finnegans Wake«-like free floating sound associations this chapter poses a dramatic difficulty spike. Until now I was reading »Jerusalem« out loud, at home, at work, on the go. But with this chapter I can’t do it. I crawl along the sentences like someone who just began learning to read.
    So for this chapter I resorted to the audiobook version performed by Simon Vance (who is doing a very fine job). This way, its much easier to follow the narration. I hope this will carry me through.

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    1. Notes on the 1st paragraph.

      I’ve not read any Joyce so I have no doubt there’s lots I’m missing. But in the second sentence we see the fun Moore is having here with mentions of puzzles and crosswords. Plenty of nods to Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress (grimpill’s progress, bunyan/bunion, settee of destraction.

      “to mate the mournin’ son” seems to be both “meet the morning sun” and an allusion to an incestuous relationship with Giorgio. I believe neither he no Nora ever visited Lucia.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I also had difficulty with this chapter and had to resort to translating it into English, word by word, in order to read it at all. I’m sure I missed some nuances and proper names but its now a lot more intelligible. Translation available on request. If anyone else has an alternative translation I’d love to read it.

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  3. @Rorshack: Chapeau for your efforts! I would like to read your encryption, too. I am optimistic, that I have a pretty good grasp of this chapter (understood maybe 60-75 % of it) after the using method described above (reading it while listening to the audio book).

    Today I bought the hardcover edition of »Jerusalem« and will enter the labyrinth a 2nd time at the end of march when I have a holiday. Then I will read and listen simultaniously through the whole yarn (60+ hours) in a couple of days.

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  4. Many thanks for sending your translation Roarshack. Looked pretty good to me and meant I could get out of the feelng of being stuck in mud and get on with the book! I’ll go back and read the chapter properly when I get around to it. I enjoyed the challenge to start wih but it was too long for me to keep it up 🙂

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    1. I’m not sure annotations will work on Round the Bend, given the multi-layered nature of the text. Too easy to lose sight of the story. My completed translation should be posted on the site soon. There is bound to be lots which needs further attention.

      Rgds

      Roarshack

      ________________________________

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      1. Well, to a significant extent, annotations are about the trees more than about the forest. If you want the big picture, you probably don’t go first to annotations… but in a lot of cases, the details add up to give some insights on the overall picture.

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  5. Thanks for the annotations, which help, though some of them seem to be amusingly off course! For example, p.11 of the first document has ‘from her areola to her arsehole’, whilst the 2nd document has ‘areola to areola’. I’m 99% sure it’s actually ‘from her areola to her hairy hole’, which makes a bit more sense. There’s quite a few of these, though I’m not sure of the best way of correcting them?

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    1. Sorry it took so long to notice your comment was awaiting moderation. Commemts are the best way to tell US about errors, though we can’t control other people’s. I’ll be starting my own epic pass on this chapter within the next few days, though!

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      1. I think this just demonstrates the nature of the chapter, where there is no one definitive correct translation. Multiple meanings, although not all equally valid or relevant.

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