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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 covers and the sheets were stapled twice, halfway between the uppermost edge and the perforated line. The front cover of the notebook is made of heavier pink paper and is now detached. The trademark " "MAG-NIS" | Notes" and a floral device are printed in black ink on the front cover.(This is the same brand as Buffalo MS VI.B.1, though they are different types of notebook.) The back cover is thick tan cardboard and the upper edges of the front and back covers were reinforced with black cloth. Joyce wrote on the front cover verso and both sides of the back cover.

Joyce’s notes are primarily in lead pencil, except those entries on pp. [113], [115(a)(c)], and [117(g)] that are in blue ink, as well as the notes on pp. [121(i)] and the addition to [137(j)] that are in black ink.

He wrote draft versions of the three stanzas of his poem "A Prayer" vertically in lead pencil on pp. [011], [013], and [015] (this manuscript is also listed as Buffalo MS IV.A.3; but also see MS IV.A.4, which is a later typescript version of the poem)."A Prayer" appeared as the thirteenth and last poem in Pomes Penyeach, dated by Joyce "Paris 1924" (Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1927), pp. [20]–[21], and was subsequently published in PSW, p. 63.

Nora Joyce wrote the entries on pp. [029(f)(j)], [031], [033(a)and(b)], [035], [037(a)and (b)], and [070(g)(i)] in lead pencil, presumably at Joyce’s dictation.

Joyce wrote the entries vertically in lead pencil on pp. [010], [043(a)], and [077] as well as vertically in blue ink on pp. [113], [115(a)–(c)], [117(g)]. He wrote the entries on pp. [026(g)and (h)] and [160] upside down in lead pencil.

Along with MS VI.B.16, which Joyce compiled just before it (and then MS VI.B.9 in 1925), this manuscript is the second extant example of a type of notebook Joyce used intermittently between April 1924 and July 1925,all of which are bound at the top edge and made so that leaves could be torn from the tablet.

Joyce used red, black, and green colored crayons to cross through notes he incorporated in his drafts.


The manuscript now consists of 81 leaves (162 pages) of light black lined graph paper. At least 9 leaves are missing, small fragments of which remain, torn below the perforation and still attached at the spine, without any markings: 1 leaf each between what are now pp. [026]–[027], [048]–[049], [068]–[069], [078]–[079], [150]–[151], [154]–[155], [158]–[159] and 2 leaves between pp. [160]–[161]. Also, 1 leaf with some markings has been torn out of the notebook between what are now pp. [072]–[073]. These pages have not been included in the pagination of the notebook in the JJA or FWNB: VI.B.5.            
Portions of pp. [061]–[062], [065]–[066], [073]–[074], [153]–[154], [155]–[156], [157]–[158], and [161]–[162] have been torn off.
Of the extant pages, 159 pages are inscribed and only 3 are blank: pp. [066], [074], and [162]. Also, the front cover and 6 leaves (pp. [001]–[012]) are now detached from the tablet and pp. [053]–[054] are nearly detached.


The manuscript measures 20.9 (19.2 + 1.7) x 13.6 cm.


The pages are not numbered.


Joyce compiled this notebook from mid May to late July 1924 in Paris and Brittany (FWNB: VI.B.5, pp. 4–8).

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. At different times, Joyce wrote on the back cover verso: "S. Malo" upside down in lead pencil toward the lower edge; "b" in lead pencil and below that " | ", all in red crayon; and then "b c | d" in lead pencil.


The manuscript has been reproduced in black and white photo-facsimile in JJA 30.001–084 and was published in The Finnegans Wake Notebooks at Buffalo: VI.B.5, edited by Vincent Deane, Daniel Ferrer and Geert Lernout (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2004).


Mme France Raphael, Joyce’s amanuensis in Paris in late 1933, transcribed the notes Joyce did not cross through in crayon from this notebook, from the front cover verso–p [161], in Buffalo MS VI.C.4, pp. [028]–[153] (TD 32).