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Work in Progress"/Finnegans Wake Notebook (1923)

Material Description

The notebook is a stenographer’s tablet that is similar to a type of notebook that have horizontal spines, which Joyce used from December 1922 through March 1924:see alsoMSS VI.B.10, VI.B.3, VI.B.25, VI.B.2, VI.B.6, and VI.B.1. This manuscript is identical to MS VI.B.6; although the front covers are missing from both manuscripts, the back cover are precisely the same color and similarly worn. Pages [001]–[006] and [093]–[096] are detached from the notebook and portions of the leaves are missing from the edges, some of which were inscribed. The top right corner on the even-numbered pages and the bottom right corners on the odd-numbered pages of pp. [095]–[108] are missing. Many of the leaves are tattered and torn around the edges.

The covers and sheets were stapled twice in the center, folded in half horizontally and trimmed to form the tablet; the spine was covered in black cloth binding tape is still affixed to the verso of the back cover. The back cover is made of light brown board, covered on its recto with white paper and is cracked; the verso is heavily worn and both sides of the back cover are inscribed.

Joyce’s notes are in several kinds of pencil, including lead and grease pencils. Nora Joyce wrote the notes on p. [110] in lead pencil.

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


The manuscript now consists of 85 leaves (170 pages) of unlined, refined pulp paper. Probably 4 leaves have been torn from the tablet; at least 11 leaves are missing from the end of the notebook, though fragments of those pages are still attached at the spine.

Of the extant pages, 166 pages are inscribed and only 4 are blank: pp. [106], [107], [139], and [163]. SinceMme Raphael did not transcribe any further notes from this manuscript, the other pages were most likely already missing from the notebook by late 1933.


The manuscript measures 20.7 x 13.2 cm.


The pages are not numbered.


Joyce compiled this notebook from late September to late November 1923 in Paris (TD 25).

Other Markings

On the back cover verso, Joyce wrote "Shem | Cain" right side up (based on the way in which he used the other rectos) probably all with the same pencil and at the same time and then "Shem | Cain | | b" upside down at another time.        
Traces of the pencil markings from the notes as well as of the color crayon from crossed-through markings appear on many facing pages.


The manuscript has been reproduced in black and white photo-facsimile in JJA 31.140–225.


MS VI.B.11, pp. [001] and [002] were reproduced in reverse order on JJA 31.140 and 141.
Mme France Raphael, Joyce’s amanuensis in late 1933 in Paris, transcribed the notes Joyce did not cross through in crayon from MS VI.B.11, pp. [001]–[170] in Buffalo MS VI.C.1, pp. [075]–[208].