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Work in Progress”/Finnegans Wake Notebook (1923)

Material Description

The manuscript is a stenographer’s tablet. It is an example of the 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.11, VI.B.6, and VI.B.1.

The plain tan, heavy paper cover and the sheets were stapled twice in the center and folded in half horizontally to form the tablet. The cover is split at the spine and detached from the notebook. Joyce’s notes are in several kinds of lead pencils and he wrote some of the notes in black ink on pp. [137], [166], and [168].

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


The manuscript now consists of 90 leaves (180 pages) of unlined, refined, pulp paper. At least 8 pages are missing, small fragments of which remain, attached at the spine, without any markings. There was 1 leaf between what are now pp. [178]–[179] and 2 leaves between what are now pp. [176]–[177]. Pages [001]–[002] are held to the tablet by the staples, though the other half of the sheet (what would have been the last 2 pages of the notebook) is missing. Of the extant pages, 167 pages are inscribed; 13 are blank: pp. [002], [070], [071], and [082]–[091]. Joyce filled pp. [075]–[081], [110], [111], [113], and [172]–[180] upside down, and wrote some of the notes on pp. [074], [117], [169], and [170] upside down as well. He wrote vertically on pp. [133] and [136]. 3 leaves (pp. [093]–[094], [095]–[096], and [179]–[180]) were torn in half, presumably by Joyce for some other use; they may have all been inscribed before they were torn. Also, several of the leaves are tattered and torn around the edges, especially those at the back of the notebook.


The manuscript measures 18.5 x 13.5 cm. (as trimmed).


The pages are not numbered.


Joyce compiled this notebook from late August through late September 1923 in Paris and Tours (TD 25).

Other Markings

Traces of the pencil markings from the notes as well as of the color crayon from cross through markings appear on many facing pages. On the back cover recto, Joyce wrote “Shem | Cain | | b | d” upside down in lead pencil.1 There is a red crayon mark on the front cover recto.


The manuscript has been reproduced in black and white photo-facsimile in JJA 29.093–179.


Mme France Raphael, Joyce’s amanuensis in Paris, transcribed the notes Joyce did not cross through in crayon from this notebook in Buffalo MS VI.C.2, pp. [006]–[122].

  1. The “” sigla are in a darker shade of pencil, suggesting that they were added at a different time.