I smell the blood of an Irishman
U 3.291-3 Sir Lout’s toys. Mind you don’t get one bang on the ear. I’m the bloody well gigant rolls all of them bloody well boulders, bones for my steppingstones. Feefawfum. I zmellz de bloodz odz an Iridzman.
Gifford calls this: “A scrambled free association that includes the nursery rhyme: ‘Fee, fi, fo, fum,/I smell the blood of an Englishman,/Be he alive, or be he dead,/I’ll grind his bones to make my bread.”
This is a typical example of a common problem with annotations: a partial explanation obfuscates the need for a more thorough look at the text that might produce more specific answers to the reader’s conscious or subconscious interpretative fumbling. Stephen’s contribution in free association, it turns out here, is smaller than Gifford’s comment suggests.
In 1937 Pádraig Ó Tuathail published an article "Folk-Tales from Carlow and West Wicklow"1 that suggests that Stephen’s “free association” is solidly based on folklore:
The earliest documented version of the tale in book form that has come to light so far may be found in “Coldfeet and the Queen of Lonesome Island” in Hero-Tales of Ireland (1894). When Coldfeet is noticed by a giant the latter calls out:
A wilfully manipulated version of the English nursery rhyme viciously attacking Thomas Moore was published in 1853:
In 1916 Padraic Colum makes use of the bones/stepping-stones
phrase in his collection of stories for
children, The King of Ireland’s Son:
Joyce added the Sir Lout section to the text only in the third draft of Proteus, the Rosenbach fair copy, where he also adds the archaic form “gigant” for “giant” and additional z’s to indicate that the giant “has rocks his mouth instead of teeth”.4
1 Béaloideas: The Journal of the
Folklore of Ireland Society (1937),
pp. 49-94. Most of the stories were recorded on an "Ediphone"
voice-writing device in 1934, and transcribed from there.
Joyce's Allusions >