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This paper considers the doodles in the “Nightlessons” chapter of Finnegans Wake, such as the geometrical figure on page 293, the childish drawings that close the chapter, and Issy’s “Doodles family” footnote (FW 299 F4). Since Roland McHugh’s Sigla of Finnegans Wake, the symbols Joyce developed to refer to his protean and manifold characters have often been regarded as a key to the novel. However, the resemblance between Joyce’s sigla and the symbols of formal logic has not been noted. For instance, hce’s siglum, as it appears on FW 36.16 (“∃!”), is identical to Russell’s non-empty set, a forerunner of the existential quantifier; alp’s delta (Δ) is a common mathematical symbol; and Issy’s siglum, in two of its aspects (⊢,⊥), represents, respectively, Frege’s assertion sign and Peirce’s notation for nor. Joyce drew on Russell’s Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (1919) for “Nightlessons”, and in Tales Told of Shem and Shaun (1929), where the “triangle” section of ii.2 was first published, C.K. Ogden compares the language of the Wake to formal logic. These sources, and the way Joyce introduced the sigla into the published text, suggest that both the art and the logic of Joyce’s “Doodles family” are informed by mathematical philosophy.

Open Access
In: James Joyce and the Arts
Author:

Abstract

This paper considers the doodles in the “Nightlessons” chapter of Finnegans Wake, such as the geometrical figure on page 293, the childish drawings that close the chapter, and Issy’s “Doodles family” footnote (FW 299 F4). Since Roland McHugh’s Sigla of Finnegans Wake, the symbols Joyce developed to refer to his protean and manifold characters have often been regarded as a key to the novel. However, the resemblance between Joyce’s sigla and the symbols of formal logic has not been noted. For instance, hce’s siglum, as it appears on FW 36.16 (“∃!”), is identical to Russell’s non-empty set, a forerunner of the existential quantifier; alp’s delta (Δ) is a common mathematical symbol; and Issy’s siglum, in two of its aspects (⊢,⊥), represents, respectively, Frege’s assertion sign and Peirce’s notation for nor. Joyce drew on Russell’s Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy (1919) for “Nightlessons”, and in Tales Told of Shem and Shaun (1929), where the “triangle” section of ii.2 was first published, C.K. Ogden compares the language of the Wake to formal logic. These sources, and the way Joyce introduced the sigla into the published text, suggest that both the art and the logic of Joyce’s “Doodles family” are informed by mathematical philosophy.

Open Access
In: James Joyce and the Arts