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“Scribbled Words”: The Usage of the Ulysses Notebooks in “Proteus” and “Aeolus”

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 45, Number 2, Winter 2008
pp. 301-322 | 10.1353/jjq.0.0058

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Studies of the pre-publication development of Ulysses have been both fewer in number and more focused on Joyce’s draft, typescript, and proof material than comparable studies of Finnegans Wake. Until recently, we knew about only five groupings of Ulysses notes (including the “Lost Notebook” reconstructed from the Finnegans Wake transcription repositories by Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon1). These were all known by the late 1970s and are heavily weighted towards the later part of the composition process.2 With the 2002 accession by the National Library of Ireland (NLI) of a large cache of Joyce manuscripts, however, the material evidence of notebook usage in the composition of Ulysses has increased considerably. What follows focuses on how this newly available group of notebooks, combined with the new “Proteus” draft held at the NLI, contributes to our understanding of the composition of two early episodes from the first half of Ulysses: “Proteus” and “Aeolus.”

The newly discovered drafts tell us a great deal about the composition of “Proteus.” The list of extant pretexts now includes the NLI notebooks, a fragmentary early draft (NLI 7A or the “fragment draft”),3 and what will be referred to as the late “Proteus” draft (Buffalo V.A.3). Our revised view of “Aeolus” is still more illuminating because there is now a wealth of notebook material from the placard stage, in which Joyce transformed the episode by adding the characteristic headlines or subheads. In “Ulysses” in Progress, Michael Groden emphasizes the importance of this stage for the composition of “Aeolus” and for Ulysses as a whole, and also shows how Joyce made use of a “pocket-sized notebook” (Buffalo VIII.A.5).4 I will expand on Groden’s discussion of this notebook and demonstrate the importance of the new NLI notebooks to the composition of “Aeolus.” The manuscripts at the NLI not only throw fresh light on the growth of this episode but also provide fascinating insight into the interrelationship between the early notebooks and the later ones now available.

I. A Brief Description of the Extant Ulysses Avant-Textes

Among the manuscripts in the NLI collection are the “fragment draft” of “Proteus” and four Ulysses notebooks: NLI 3 or the “subject notebook,” NLI 4 (or what will be referred to as the “blue late NLI notebook” because of the color of its cover), NLI 5A (the “purple late NLI notebook”), and NLI 5B (the “headline notebook”).5 With the exception of the relatively early subject notebook, these were produced relatively late in the composition process—probably during or after Joyce’s 1921 revision of the typescripts. The subject notebook is so christened because of its subdivision headings. The other three are episodic and comparable to several extant late notebooks, such as the “late Buffalo notebook” (Buffalo V.A.2).

The availability of these new notebooks enables a more comprehensive view of how Joyce composed the early sections of Ulysses. The late Buffalo notebook is comprised mainly of notes intended for the final episodes of Ulysses, while the British Library notesheets (MS 49975) are associated with the final seven episodes, beginning with “Cyclops.” The late Buffalo notebook includes notes for the final thirteen episodes of Ulysses, starting with “Hades.” By contrast, two of the newly available episodic notebooks—the blue late NLI notebook and the purple late NLI notebook—include pages associated with all episodes of Ulysses. While a smattering of notes from the extant early notebooks was previously the only evidence available for notebook usage in the “Telemachia” and early Bloom episodes, now there are several pages of notes associated with the post-holograph stage of these episodes.

Since the NLI collections were made accessible, the subject notebook has garnered the greatest attention. It is the earliest of the newly available notebooks and demonstrates the fluidity of certain plot elements at the time of its composition. The late episodic NLI notebooks, while not formally surprising, are no less revealing. Notes in the blue late NLI notebook, the purple late NLI notebook, and the headline notebook correspond to additions made to the texts of “Proteus” and “Aeolus” relatively early in the composition process, before Joyce revised the typescripts. Groden initially dated...

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