The initials of the protean hero of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake, the sleeping Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker, tavern keeper, and a good example of the sort of word play/association of which Joyce was fond.

Among a myriad other things, HCE suggests:

  • Here Comes Everybody (Earwicker's customers' nickname for him)
  • Howth Castle and Environs (the setting for the story)
  • Hush! Caution! Echoland!
  • how charmingly exquisite
  • He'll Cheat E'erawan
  • huge chain envelope
  • Hyde and Cheek, Edenberry, Dublin (a law firm)
  • Haveth Childers Everywhere (the title of an early published fragment of the book)
  • happinest childher everwere
  • homerigh, castle and earthhouse
  • Humme the Cheapner, Esc
  • humile, commune and ensectuous
  • Habituels conspicuously emergent
  • High Church of England
  • high chief evervirens
  • history comes eventually

and so forth. Like grade school word-puzzles everywhere, the letters also appear backwards and *within* words.

Why mention it? Because it's a clue, a good one, in a book full of clues, puns, puzzles, rumours, and conundrums.

Shades of Joyce:

a nice cool glass of Joyce
Anna Livia Plurabelle
Cashel Boyle O'Connor Fitzmaurice Tisdall Farrell
Finnegans Wake
Finn MacCool
Garry Owen
Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker
Issy the Teenage Rainbow
Lucia Joyce
Mina Purefoy
Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress
Shem the Penman
Ulysses is not pornography
Volta Cinema

I bought Finnegans Wake about two years ago when I figured I'd never have to buy another bathroom book again. Far from finishing it, I read pages at random and makes notes when anything makes sense. But HCE, the devil, is quite allusive, and my primary approach for skimming has been to find the bastard out. Sometimes I have trouble reading the words and not skimming the first letters, trying to find this masterpiece's protagonist. It's nice to see him alongside his lover, ALP.

Below is a brief list to further the myriad riverrun has already explained. Gaps between page numbers are more reflective of the dense middle ground which I've yet explored than his percieved presence or absence. Concerning the numbers, be cautious precious reader. My notes are from the 1st edition of the wake, before Joyce corrected punctuation errors, or haphazardly added commas, depending on however much credit you want to give him. Just keep in mind his final word on the book: "It's meant to make you laugh."

  • hod, cement, and edifices (4)
  • Haroun Childeric Eggeberth (4)
  • Hic cubat edilis, apud libertinam parvulam (7)
  • How Copenhagen ended (10-- closing lines of a tour of the museum of Willingdone)
  • Hither, crasching eastuards, they are in surgence: hence, cool, at ebb, they requiesce (17)
  • A hatch, a celt, an earshare (18)
  • hive, comb, and earwax (25--- what makes honey the holiest food)
  • all holographs so far exhumed initialled by Haromphrey bear the sigla H.C.E (32)
  • Eagle Cock Hostel (53)
  • the hen and crusader everintermutoumergent (55)
  • haughty, cacuminal, erubescent (55)
  • Humbpheres Cheops Exarchas (62)
  • Haveyou-caught-emerod's (63)
  • Houri of the coast of emerald, arrah of the lacessive poghue (68)
  • hypnos chilia eonion! (78)
  • high chief evervirens (88)
  • Helmingham Erchenwyne Rutter Egbert Crumwall Odin Maximus Esme Saxon Esa Vercingetorix Ethelwulf Ruppretch Ydwalla Bently Osmund Dysart Yggdrasselmann (88---  the suspect on trial)
  • hagious curious encestor (96)
  • Ear canny hare (97)
  • en caescos harauspices! Annos longos patimur! (100)
  • hiding the crumbends of his enormousness in the areyou looking for Pearlfar sea (102)
  • Handiman the Chomp, Esquoro (102)
  • Amy Licks Porter While Huffy Chops Eads (106--one of the many names of ALP's mamafesta)
  • hardily curiosing entompohilust (107)
  • Elberfeld's Calculating Horses (108)
  • hidal, in carucates he is enumerated (128)
  • hock is leading, cocoa comes next, emery tries for the flag (128)
  • has an eatupus complex (128)
  • Hwang Chang evelytime (130)
  • Hallucination, cauchman, ectoplasm (133--nickname of Finn MacCool)
  • Hewitt Costello, Equerry (135)
  • H.C. Endersen (138)
  • East Conna Hillock (160)
  • Huges Caput Earlyfouler (197)
  • H.C.E. has a codfisck ee. (198)
  • Her Chuff Exsquire (205)
  • Howarden's Castle, Englandwales (242)
  • Herod with the cormwell's eczema (260)
  • ers crafty hakemouth (263)
  • Hispano-Cathayan-Euxine, Castilian-Emeratic-Hebridian, Espanol-Cymric-Helliky? (263)
  • emerald canticle of Hermes (263)
  • Haud certo ergo (263)
  • Honour commercio's energy (264)
  • Harbourer-cum-Enheritance. Even Canaan the Hateful. (264)
  • Eat early earthapples. Coax Cobra to chatters. Hail, Heva, we hear! (271)
  • harbour craft emittences (309)
  • harmonic condenser enginium (310)
  • howdrocephalous enlargement (310)
  • Heave, coves, emptybloddy! (324)
  • heaviest corpus exemption (362)
  • Hung Chung Egglyfella (372)
  • Eusebian Concordant Homilies (409)
  • Hotchkiss Culthur's Everready (523)
  • I was her hochsized, her cleavunto, her everest, she was my annie, my lauralad, my pisoved (548)
  • Holiday, Christmas, Easter (556)
  • Hemself and Co, Esquara (557)
  • A hand from the cloud emerges, holding a chart expanded. (593--- my all-time favorite HCE appearance, on the first page of part IV. From the Weekly Irish Times, dated July 18, 1936, an article on the family name Finnegan: "Out of a cloud a hand erect holding a book expanded proper"
  • Heliotropolis, the castellated, the enchanting (594)
  • Horned cairns erge (594)
  • Henge Ceolleges, Exmooth (594-5)
  • hoseshoes, cheriotiers and etceterogenious (595)
  • hailed chimers' ersekind (596)
  • hullow chyst excavement (596)
  • heat, contest and enmity (597)
  • Homos Circas Elochlannensis! (600)
  • Higgins, Cairns and Egen (604)
  • Hagiographice canat Ecclesia (604)
  • Hump cumps Ebblybally! (612)
  • Have we cherised expectations? Are we for liberty of perusiveness? Whyafter what forewhere? A plainplaned liffeyism assemblements Emblania's conglomerate horde. (614)
  • heroticisms, catastrophes and eccentricities (614)
  • earnestly conceived hopes (617)
  • erect, confident and heroic (619)
  • hot cockles and everything (623)
  • Hoteform, chain and epolettes (623)
  • Every letter is a hard but yours sure is the hardest crux ever (623)

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