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One of the characteristics of modernist art is its self-consciousness. After centuries of using tools like the grid to create an illusion of reality, modernist artists started drawing attention to the painting's underlying grid to emphasize the discontinuity between reality and its presentation. Rosalind Krauss therefore regards the structure of the grid as "emblematic of the modernist ambition" (9). With reference to literature, Joyce's Finnegans Wake exemplifies the metafictional ways in which a text can draw attention to the underlying grid instead of hiding the traces of the writing process. Toward the end of the book, the text mentions the process of "decomposition" and "subsequent recombination" that characterizes the work (FW 614.35). To some extent Samuel Beckett has reversed this process in that his main focus is on the element of "decomposition." Nonetheless, his writing method is not the complete opposite of Joyce's. Beckett also radicalized elements that were already present in Joyce's "Work in Progress" to draw attention to the underlying grid and thematize the creative act in an even more explicitly metafictional way than Joyce had done. To investigate this process, the notion of "hesitancy" in Joyce's and Beckett's works and manuscripts will serve as a focal point.

During the writing of Finnegans Wake, Joyce "decomposed" excerpts from hundreds of source texts in the form of paratactic jottings in the Finnegans Wake notebooks; he subsequently recombined them in the drafts. Especially in the 1930s this process sometimes tended to become remarkably mechanical. For instance, when Joyce asked Mme. Raphael to make a transcription of the undeleted, that is, unused, entries from his note-books into new ones (the so-called C-notebooks), she copied the original documents in random order. When she was copying entries from notebook VI.B.28 into notebook VI.C.09 and arrived at the last line of the last page, she just took a new notebook (VI.C.10) and continued with the next undeleted entry ("green scarlet") from notebook VI.B.28. After VI.B.28 she copied VI.B.26, and then VI.B.23. When Joyce needed an extra paragraph to add to the July 1935 installment in transition 23, he took a notebook, [End Page 17] which happened to be VI.C.10, and "recombined" a set of entries which he found on the first seven pages: "leafeth earlier / than every growth" (VI.C.10, 1); "May it be well / with you" (3); "what the demons they were all / shooting" (7). The "recombination" of these jottings became the basic structure for a fifteen-line passage in the children's lessons chapter (2.2) of Finnegans Wake—"that (may all in the tocoming of the sempereternal speel spry with it!) datetree doloriferous which more and over leafteth earlier than every growth . . . wondering . . . what the demons . . . they were . . . shooting about" (FW 274.13–27). The many ellipses stand for the additions that were subsequently derived from the same C-notebook. Thus, for instance, "in the tocoming" is an addition to the first draft of this passage (BL MS 47478-232), derived from an entry in C-notebook VI.C.10 (59), which in its turn is derived from a vocabulary list of Dutch (Flemish) words in notebook VI.B.26 (2), compiled while Joyce was on holiday in Ostend during the summer of 1926: "Futur = toekomende." The extra paragraph must have been added at a late stage in the preparation of transition 23, for according to the James Joyce Archive (JJA) Harriet Shaw Weaver mentions in her notes that "these two pages were sent to [her] later and do not appear in the typescript made for transition. But they follow straight on after the thirteenth page of the fair copy and must have been inserted before transition was printed" (JJA 52: 121). The passage also appeared as the last paragraph of Storiella as She Is Syung (London: Corvinus Press, 1937). This "storiella" is not just a story, but also a reference to history "as it is told"—one of the subjects among the children's lessons and an important one, since Joyce had said after the publication of Ulysses that...


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