Skip to Content


Work in Progress"/Finnegans Wake Notebook (1923–1924)

Material Description

The notebook is a stenographer’s tablet. It is an example of a type of notebook Joyce used from December 1922 through March 1924, all of which have horizontal spines:MSSVI.B.10, VI.B.3, VI.B.25, VI.B.2, VI.B.11, and VI.B.1. This manuscript is identical to MS VI.B.11; although the front covers are missing from both manuscripts, the back covers are precisely the same color and are similarly worn.

The covers and sheets were stapled twice in the center, folded in halfhorizontally, and trimmed to form the tablet. The spine was covered in black cloth binding tape and is still affixed to the verso of the back cover. The back cover is madeof light brown board, covered on its recto with white paper and is still intact but cracked; the verso is heavily worn and bothsides of the back cover are inscribed. There are tears on pp. [043]–[044], [069]–[070], and [085]–[086], but none of these pages aremissing. There are also tears on pp. [061]–[062], and [079]–[080], but here small portions of these pages are missing. Several of the leaves are tattered and torn around the edges, especially the ones at the front of the notebook.

Joyce’snotes are in several kinds of pencil, including lead and grease pencils; compare, for example, the several kinds of pencils Joyce used on pp. [073] and [190]. He also added notes interlineally or in the margins, with different pencils, often after the pages themselves had been filled; see, for example, pp. [002(m)], [004(i)], [041(a)], [045(b)], [046(f)–(g)], [051(n)], [061(l)], [082(e)], [107(h)], [128(m)], [189(d)], and [191(p)]. There is also an index of notes in black ink on pp. [124(h)]–[126].

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


The manuscript now consists of 96 leaves (192 pages) of unlined, refined pulp paper. Probably 4 leaves have been torn from the tablet; 2 leaves are definitely missing from the back of the notebook (what were pp. [193]–[196]): Joyce probably had not used them for note taking. Pages [001]–[014], [093]–[100], and [191]–[192] are detached from the tablet, of which pp. [093]–[100] are 2 intact sheets (8 pages).

The 2 pages catalogued as Buffalo MS VI.B.49.c (recto-verso) are another detached leaf from this notebook. It is of the same type of paper and dimensions as this notebook and Joyce used notes from MSS VI.B.6 and VI.B.49.c to write and revise similar drafts. As none of the notes on these pages appear in manuscripts MSS VI.C.2 or VI.C.3, this sheet was most likely detached from the notebook before Mme Raphael transcribed it. The original placement of the leaf in the notebook has not been determined. The other leaf of the sheet is not known to be extant. Presumably p. [191] was the last inscribed page of this notebook when it was transcribed in MS VI.C.3, and p. [192] was the last page of the notebook when Joyce wrote "t 12" on it (see below).

Of the extant pages, 165 pages are inscribed; 27 are blank: pp. [005]–[031].It was unusual for Joyce to leave so many pages blank, especially given the fact that he was taking notes from the same source on pp. [004] and [032].


The manuscript measures 20.7 x 13.2 cm. (as trimmed).


The pages are not numbered.


Joyce compiled this notebook from the end of December 1923 to mid to late February 1924 in Paris (FWNB: VI.B.6, p. 4).

Other Markings

On the back cover recto, from top to bottom, Joyce wrote "d" in lead pencil, "" in orange crayon, and "" in a lighter pencil. On the back cover verso, Joyce wrote "Shem | Cain | " (probably all with the same lead pencil and at the same time).Then, below this list, he wrote "b" in a darker pencil (probably after having written the items above it). At different times, Joyce wrote "t 12" in blue crayon on p. [192] and "t13 13" vertically on the back cover verso in green crayon.

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 pencil markings on the back cover verso and water stains on p. [105].


The manuscript has been reproduced in black and white photo-facsimile in JJA 30.085–169 and was published in The Finnegans Wake Notebooks at Buffalo: VI.B.6, edited by Vincent Deane, Daniel Ferrer and Geert Lernout (Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2002).


Mme France Raphael, Joyce’s amanuensis in Paris in late 1933, transcribed the notes Joyce did not cross through in crayon from MS VI.B.6, pp. [001]–[136] in Buffalo MS VI.C.2, pp. [198]–[280] and the remainder of the uncrossed notes from this notebook to VI.C.3, pp. [001]–[050].