Skip to Content
ublogo print

University at Buffalo Libraries

The Poetry Collection

Case I: Joyce’s Works Before Ulysses


1. James Joyce, age 6, in a sailor suit, 1888.


2. Two Essays, 1901.

TWO ESSAYS. | "A Forgotten Aspect of | the University Question" | BY | F. J. C. SKEFFINGTON | AND | "The Day of the Rabblement" | BY | JAMES A. JOYCE. | PRICE TWOPENCE. | Printed by | GERRARD BROS., | 37 STEPHEN'S GREEN, | DUBLIN.

The long and arduous experience of finally seeing Ulysses into print was hardly the first time Joyce had encountered difficulties in getting his work published. Indeed, his essay "The Day of the Rabblement," one of his earliest published pieces, was rejected by St Stephen's magazine, an undergraduate journal at University College, Dublin, which Joyce attended. Joyce's essay was refused because in it he mentioned Gabriele D'Annunzio's novel Il Fuoco (1900), which was listed on the Vatican Index of Prohibited Books. Joyce teamed up with his friend Francis Skeffington, whose essay "A Forgotten Aspect of the University Question," which dealt with women's rights, was also rejected by St Stephen's. They privately published their two essays together in October 1901. They paid the Dublin printing firm Gerrard Brothers £2 5s. to produce about 85 copies. Since they charged 2d. a copy, they published their essays at a loss.

Joyce's essay pronounces his disdain for the Irish Literary Theatre for falling under the sway of Irish nationalism and provincialism. He begins his essay with a blunt assertion about the role of the artist, one which will resonate for the rest of his career as a writer: "No man, said the Nolan, can be a lover of the true or the good unless he abhors the multitude; and the artist, though he may employ the crowd, is very careful to isolate himself." Joyce's brother Stanislaus recalls that Joyce wrote this essay "rapidly in one morning." Stanislaus also writes that the essay "got more publicity than if it had not been censored." [2]


3. Holograph draft of "A Portrait of the Artist" essay, 1904 (Buffalo II.A).

Joyce wrote this brief, quasi-autobiographical sketch for the magazine Dana, although the editors declined to publish it. One editor, John Eglinton, explained "I can't print what I can't understand." [3] In this piece, Joyce combines a fictionalized autobiographical narrative with philosophical exposition in order to describe the evolution of artistic sensibilities in an unnamed young man. Joyce subsequently expanded upon the ideas expressed in this piece in his aborted novel Stephen Hero and, ultimately, in the second version of that novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which ironically reprises and rephrases the title of this essay. Many of the incidents found in that novel can be traced back to this earlier essay.

This draft is written in an exercise book that belonged to Joyce's sister Mabel (1893-1911). Joyce dated it January 7, 1904. Joyce subsequently used this exercise book to write notes for Stephen Hero, which occupy the later pages. In 1928 he gave this document to Sylvia Beach.


4. James Joyce in his graduation gown, October 31, 1902.


5. Holograph draft of Epiphany 21, 1903 (Buffalo I.A.14).

The epiphany was the central concept of Joyce's early aesthetic theory and practice. The epiphany is explicitly defined only in Stephen Hero. "By an epiphany he meant a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself. He believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments." [4] In an epiphany the "soul" or "whatness" of an object "leaps to us from the vestment of its appearance." [5] The epiphany has a two-fold aspect: on the one hand it is an experience of a "sudden spiritual manifestation" out of a relatively quotidian or mundane event, and on the other hand it is the artistic reproduction of that experience. The epiphany is thus not just the experience but the written account of that experience. The epiphany is thus what defines the artist: the artist is the person who is able to record these spiritual manifestations with appropriate sensitivity.

When Joyce reworked Stephen Hero into A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he omitted specific mention of the epiphanies. In Stephen Hero Stephen says that he is going to collect "many such moments together in a book of epiphanies." [6] This was a practice that Joyce shared and from 1901 to 1904 he wrote as many as seventy-one epiphanies, of which only forty survive today. Twenty-two, in Joyce's hand, are at Buffalo and an additional eighteen are at Cornell. With one exception, all the Cornell epiphanies are in Stanislaus Joyce's hand (some of them duplicate ones at Buffalo).

In Ulysses, Stephen, in a bemused tone of self-criticism, recalls his practice of recording epiphanies: "Remember your epiphanies written on green oval leaves, deeply deep, copies to be sent if you died to all the great libraries of the world, including Alexandria?" [7] Several of the epiphanies Joyce wrote in his youth are worked into Stephen Hero, A Portrait, and Ulysses.

Stanislaus Joyce writes that this epiphany was a description of their mother's funeral on August 13, 1903 and was written about two or three months afterwards. [8] Joyce reworked it into Bloom's interior monologue at Paddy Dignam's funeral in the "Hades" episode of Ulysses (item 25, case III).


6. Holograph draft of Epiphany 1, ?1901 (Buffalo I.A.6).

This epiphany recalls an incident of Joyce's childhood, possibly from 1891, and appears at the end of the first section of the first chapter of A Portrait (item 7). Within the context of the epiphanies, this one has a self-reflexive quality in that it depicts a young boy reacting to the threats of adult authority figures by reciting a small poem; in other words it shows in miniature an artist withdrawing from power and creating art.


7. James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 1916 (first American edition).

A Portrait of the Artist | as a Young Man | BY | JAMES JOYCE | [publisher's device] | NEW YORK | B. W. HUEBSCH | MCMXVI

The copy on display is opened to the end of the first section of the first chapter, where we can see a slightly modified version of epiphany 1 (item 6). Joyce shortened the scene and transposed Mr Vance's threats to Stephen's aunt, Dante (a modified form of "auntie").


8. James Joyce, Chamber Music, 1907 (first edition).

1907 | Chamber | Music | BY | JAMES JOYCE | ELKIN MATHEWS | Vigo Street, London

Joyce composed these thirty-six lyrical poems between 1901 and 1904. These were published by the London firm of Elkin Mathews at Arthur Symons' recommendation (Yeats had introduced Joyce to Symons, a literary journalist, in London in 1902). By the time this collection of poems was published, Joyce had become dissatisfied with its immaturity, although certain themes found in Joyce's later works are already present here. Shortly after Chamber Music was published, the composer G. Molyneux Palmer set the poems to music with Joyce's permission.

These are two copies of the first edition, one closed and one opened to show the title-page. There are three variant bindings in the first edition; both copies on display are the second variant, with thick wove end-papers and the poems in signature C poorly centered on the page. Joyce inscribed the copy that is closed "To | Sylvia Beach | James Joyce | Paris | 11 april 1922."


9. James Joyce, Dubliners, 1914 (first edition).

DUBLINERS | BY | JAMES JOYCE | [publisher's device] | LONDON | GRANT RICHARDS LTD. | PUBLISHERS

Joyce wrote the fifteen short stories in Dubliners between 1904 and 1907. Some of the earlier stories were published in various Dublin journals and one of them, "The Sisters," was signed "Stephen Daedalus" when it appeared in The Irish Homestead in 1904. The seven-year delay between the completion of the stories and its first publication was the result of Joyce's struggles with various publishers. In late 1905 Joyce, having written ten short stories, submitted them to the London publishing firm of Grant Richards, who had rejected Chamber Music (item 8) the year before. During the initial negotiations with Richards, Joyce added four more stories to the collection and revised "The Sisters." In April 1906, Richards informed Joyce that some of the stories would have to be altered since the printer objected to certain features in three of the stories, such as the use of the word "bloody" in "Grace." Under British law, the printer as well as the publisher could be held liable for any obscenity; in practice this meant that many British printers were reluctant to undertake any potentially controversial project. Joyce would run into this law again with A Portrait and Ulysses. Joyce adamantly refused to make any editorially-imposed revisions claiming that these would weaken his artistic goals of representing Dublin and its inhabitants to the world. Richards cancelled Joyce's contract in late 1906. The following year, Joyce added one more story, "The Dead," and also submitted the collection to Elkin Mathews, who were publishing Chamber Music (item 8), but they rejected it. He then submitted it to the Dublin firm Maunsel and Co. who expressed interest and signed a contract in 1909. In 1910, George Roberts, one of the founders of Maunsel, urged Joyce to make some revisions for fear that some stories might cause offense in Dublin. Joyce was more accommodating to Roberts than he was to Richards and agreed to make some of his suggested changes. Negotiations over these changes dragged on for two more years until finally Roberts suggested that he give Joyce the printed sheets so he could publish the collection himself. However, Roberts' printer, John Falconer, destroyed the printed sheets in order to prevent any possible publication. Joyce was understandably distraught at this and he vented his spleen against Roberts and Falconer in his satirical broadside "Gas from a Burner" (1912). Joyce somehow managed to obtain a duplicate set of printed sheets before leaving Dublin in 1912. In November 1913, Richards unexpectedly offered to publish Dubliners without any of the changes he had required five years earlier and so Dubliners finally appeared in 1914.


10. Joyce, age 22, photograph by Constantine P. Curran, Dublin, 1904.

This famous photograph was taken by Constantine P. Curran, one of Joyce's closest friends. When asked what he was thinking when this photograph was taken, Joyce replied "I was wondering would he [Curran] lend me five shillings." During Joyce's impecunious years of young adulthood, Curran loaned him money frequently. He was a model for the character Gabriel Conroy in the Dubliners story "The Dead."


11. James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 1917 (first English edition).

A Portrait of the Artist | as a Young Man | BY | JAMES JOYCE | THE EGOIST LTD. | OAKLEY HOUSE, BLOOMSBURY STREET, | LONDON

Joyce began work on a quasi-autobiographical story about the early evolution of an artistic sensibility with his essay "A Portrait of the Artist" (item 3) in 1904 when he was still living in Dublin. Almost immediately after this essay was rejected by the magazine Dana, Joyce began revising and expanding it into a novel called Stephen Hero. Joyce, now living in Trieste, abandoned work on this novel in June 1905, having written about half of it. In 1907 he returned to this project but eschewed the realism of the earlier, incomplete novel for a more supple style that reflected the influence of French writers like Gustave Flaubert and the Symbolists.

Through the help of Ezra Pound, Joyce published A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man serially in twenty-five installments in the English journal The Egoist from February 1914 to September 1915. The Egoist was edited by Harriet Shaw Weaver, who was later to become Joyce's patron and confidante. Unable to find an English publisher for the finished novel, Joyce contemplated a French publisher. Weaver dissuaded him from this idea by pointing out that the war would make such a project impractical if not impossible. Instead, she offered to publish the novel through The Egoist . Unable to find a printer willing to undertake this project, Weaver was put in touch with Benjamin W. Huebsch in New York who published the first edition in America in 1916 (item 7). Weaver finally published A Portrait in 1917 using sheets printed in America supplied by Huebsch. Subsequent English printings were made in England.


12. James Joyce, Exiles, 1918 (first edition).

EXILES | A PLAY IN THREE ACTS | BY | JAMES JOYCE | [publisher's device] | LONDON | GRANT RICHARDS LTD. | ST. MARTIN'S STREET | 1918

In 1900, Joyce wrote two plays, A Brilliant Career and Dream Stuff , neither of which survive. Exiles , his only extant play, was written in Trieste during 1914 and early 1915. This play reflects the influence of Ibsen, whom Joyce very much admired when he was younger, and is an important transition piece between A Portrait and Ulysses. Joyce wanted it published after A Portrait (item 11) had appeared in England. It was published by Grant Richards, the firm that eventually published Dubliners (item 9).


13. Exiles notebook, 1913-1915 (Buffalo III.A).

Joyce made copious notes on Exiles as he was writing it that are unlike the extant notes for his later works. His Exiles notes are more like a commentary on his play. Some of the material in these notes seems to directly feed into Ulysses. For example, he discusses the 19th Century French writer Paul de Kock, who is mentioned in Ulysses. More significantly, Joyce's characterizations of Bertha here clearly anticipate Molly Bloom. A transcription of these notes was first published in 1951 along with the play. [9]


14. Corrected proof pages for the front-matter of the 1921 Egoist Press printing of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Buffalo II.B.2).

Joyce took an active interest in every facet of the publication of his books, as can be seen by the alterations he indicates on these proof pages for the front-matter of a later printing of A Portrait. At this time he was finishing up Ulysses and assumed that, like A Portrait, it would be published by The Egoist and it is listed as such here.


15. Nora Barnacle, Zürich, c. 1916.