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Work in Progress"/Finnegans Wake Notebook (1924)

Material Description

The notebook is a tablet, perforated 1.7 cm. below its uppermost edge. The sheets (and the covers) were stapled twice, halfway between the uppermost edge and the perforated line. The front cover of the notebook is missing but it was made of pink paper (that was similar to the cover of MS VI.B.5, which is the same kind of notebook), small remnants of which remain beneath the staples and on the top left edge of the tablet; the back cover is thick gray cardboard and is heavily bent at the staple. Many of the lower right hand corners of the leaves are folded back from having been repeatedly used to turn the pages.

Joyce’s notes are in several kinds of lead pencil; compare the several kinds of pencils Joyce used on pp. [109] and [145], for example. He also added notes interlineally or in the margins with different pencils, often after the pages themselves had been filled; see pp. [005(g)], [010(h)], [061(b)], [070(h)and (i)], [071(g)], [109(k)and (l)], [144(n)], and [145(q)–(s)].

Joyce wrote the title and fragments of the opening lines of his poem "Alone" vertically in black ink on pp. [065(h)], [123(j)], and [125(h)],over which he subsequently wrote other notes horizontally. (This later draft of the poem is also listed as Buffalo MS IV.A.5.) He included "Alone" as the tenth poem in Pomes Penyeach (Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1927), p. [17].

This manuscript is the first extant example of a type of notebook Joyce used intermittently between April 1924 and July 1925 (along with MSS VI.B.5, which is the next notebook Joyce began and then later VI.B.9).

Joyce used red, blue, and green colored crayons to cross through notes he used in his manuscripts. Traces of lead often attached to the crayon as Joyce crossed through the entries, thereby altering the shade of the crayon marking.


The manuscript now consists of 73 leaves (146 pages) of unlined paper. At least 8 leaves are missing, 5 from the front of the tablet and 3 other leaves, 1 each between what are now pp. [074]–[075], [076]–[077], and [140]–[141] (fragments of which remain) and pp. [112]–[113] (of which only the paper above the perforation is extant). Note that these pages have not been included in the pagination of the notebook in the JJA or in FWNB: VI.B.16. Of the extant pages, 144 pages are inscribed and only 2 are blank: pp. [082] and [083]. 10 leaves (pp. [001]–[020]) are now detached from the tablet.

At least pp. [001]–[012] were already detached from the notebook by the time they were given to Mme Raphael, Joyce’s amanuensis in Paris, to transcribe and were folded in half horizontally as a group and preserved as a sheaf.This accounts for those pages having been transcribed separately from the rest of the notebook in Buffalo MS VI.C.6, pp. [142]–[149] (and this evidence helps to confirm Danis Rose’s contention that "String I" of the VI.C-series notebooks is anterior to "String II" [see JJA 41.xiv]).These loose pages probably remained separated from the notebook until Peter Spielberg reunited them when he first cataloged the notebook. The remainder of the notebook (pp. [013]–[146]) was the first notebook to be transcribed in Buffalo MS VI.C.1, pp. [001]–[074].

These initial leaves of the notebook probably came loose due to the pressure on the perforation of turning them both as Joyce inscribed the later pages and as he used the notebook for his drafts. This is one reason why this type of notebook proved to be ill suited to Joyce’s purposes. The worn, faded, and wrinkled appearance of p. [013] indicates that it must have been the outermost page of the notebook for many years.

Oddly, Joyce also gave Raphael another loose leaf to transcribe along with these: Buffalo manuscript VI.B.49.c, which was part of Buffalo MS VI.B.6 (see VI.C.6, pp. [141] and [142]). Raphael transcribed VI.B.16, pp. [001] and [002] in reverse order on VI.C.6, pp. [142] and [143].


The pages are not numbered.


The manuscript measures 21.1 (19.4 + 1.7) x 13.6 cm.


Joyce compiled the notebook from early to mid March to early to mid May 1924 (FWNB: VI.B.16, p. 4).

Other Markings

Joyce wrote " | c" on the back cover verso in red crayon.When he gave Mme Raphael the integral portion of this notebook to transcribe, he presumably instructed her to cross through the entries and pages she had transcribed with similar red crayon cross outs, according to Joyce’s own already established practice. Mme Raphael crossed through entries, made Xs, or diagonal lines through previously uncrossed entries on many pages up to p. [109], at which point she abandoned the procedure. These markings have not been noted in FWNB: VI.B.16 and are not always visible in the JJA.
Also, the lead from many of the entries is smudged. Traces of the pencil markings from the notes as well as of the color crayon from crossed through markings appear on many facing pages. There are rust stains on pp. [104]–[012].


The manuscript was reproduced in black and white photo-facsimile in JJA 32.357–431 and was published in The Finnegans Wake Notebooks at Buffalo: VI.B.16, edited by Vincent Deane, Daniel Ferrer and Geert Lernout (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2003).


See the Collation for a listing of Mme Raphael’s transcription of this notebook.