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Work in Progress"/Finnegans Wake Notebook (1924)

Material Description

The manuscript is a stenographer’s tablet. It is the last example in the Buffalo collection of a type of notebook Joyce used from December 1922 through March 1924, all of which have horizontal spines: MSS VI.B.10, VI.B.3, VI.B.25, VI.B.2, VI.B.11, and VI.B.6. Furthermore, MSS VI.B.1 and VI.B.3 are similar in type and identical in size, except that VI.B.3 is made of better quality paper.

The cover and the sheets were stapled twice in the center, folded in half horizontally, and then trimmed to form the tablet. Remnants of the cover and some of the detached pages remain beneath the staples. The front and back covers are made of heavy stock but pliable, faded gray-green paper; they are separated from one another and detached from the tablet. The trademark " "MAG-NIS" | STÉNO-BLOC" and a decorative floral design are printed in black on the front cover recto; the other sides of the covers are blank. (This is the same brand as Buffalo MS VI.B.5, though this a different type of notebook.) There is also a small oval red and white label attached to the upper right corner of the front cover recto; it has the price of the tablet in Francs printed in black ink: "0’70".

Joyce’s notes are in several kinds of lead pencils. He also noted a quotation in black ink from p. [084(g)] to p. [085(a)], and wrote entries in ink on pp. [014(f)], [160(e) and (f)],and [177(a)]. Joyce wrote all the notes on p. [178] upside down.

Joyce used green and red colored crayons to cross through notes he had used in his manuscripts.


The manuscript consists of 90 leaves (180 pages) of unlined, refined, pulp paper. It is unclear if any leaves are missing. Of the extant pages, 178 pages are inscribed and only 2 are blank: pp. [133] and [175]. Pages [001]–[020], [087]–[094], and [171]–[180] are now detached from the tablet; the center grouping of 8 pages is 2 intact sheets (4 leaves) that have come loose from the staples. Two further leaves (pp. [171]–[172] and [175]–[176]) were torn in half, presumably by Joyce for some other use. Joyce wrote an entry on [171] but it is not known if he did so before it was torn; pp. [172] and [176] were probably fully inscribed and they may have been torn after Joyce had already begun transferring entries from these pages to his drafts. Also, several of the leaves are tattered and torn around the edges, especially those at the front of the notebook.


The manuscript measures 21.0 x 13.2 cm. (as trimmed).


The pages are not numbered.


Joyce compiled this notebook from mid February through March 1924 in Paris (FWNB: VI.B.1, pp. 13 and 14).

Other Markings

In the bottom left margin of p. [179], around the entries he had already inscribed on the page, Joyce wrote "’a" in red crayon and then later "bb | bc | bd" in lead pencil. Of the sigla markings in pencil, Joyce probably wrote the first two with the same pencil and at the same time and "bd" later, possibly with a different pencil. Traces of the pencil markings from the notes as well as of the color crayon from cross through markings appear on many facing pages.


The manuscript has been reproduced in black and white photo-facsimile in JJA 29.001–092 and was published in The Finnegans Wake Notebooks at Buffalo: VI.B.1, edited by Vincent Deane, Daniel Ferrer and Geert Lernout (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2003).


More so than in other notebooks, the initial letters of some words are inscribed without lead (thatis, the writing left an impression but no lead). There arestains on p. [085].

Mme France Raphael, Joyce’s amanuensis in Paris, transcribed the notes Joyce didnot cross through in crayon from this notebook in Buffalo MS VI.C.3, pp. [051]–[177].

Whereas Raphael seems to have purposefully not transcribed the mathematical equations on pp. [159], [165]–[166], and [177], she presumably inadvertently did not transcribe the notes on pp. [012(g)], [031(h)], [074(n)], [087(h)], [104(d)and (i)], [109(f)], [116(b) and (g)], [135(h)], and [140(d)–(f)]. Furthermore, both she and Joyce were most likely unaware that she had not transcribed twelve entire, facing pages of this notebook (pp. [010]–[011], [016]–[017], [066]–[067], [070]–[071], [088]–[089], and [178]–[179]). In those cases, presumably she turned over two leaves at a time instead of one.