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Text Genetics in Literary Modernism and Other Essays

Hans Walter Gabler

1. The Rocky Road to Ulysses

To the memory of Richard Ellmann (1918–1987) and Hugh Kenner (1923–2003)

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  • 1 James Joyce, Ulysses. A Critical and Synoptic Edition, prepared by Hans Walter Gabler with Wolfhard (...)

— Ten years, [Mulligan] said, chewing and laughing. He is going to write something in ten years.
— Seems a long way off, Haines said, thoughtfully lifting his spoon. Still, I shouldn’t wonder if he did after all.
Ulysses 10, 1089–92)1

  • 2 Letters of James Joyce, vol. II, ed. by Richard Ellmann (New York: Viking, 1966), p. 383.

1May Joyce, James Joyce’s sister, remembered in a letter to her brother of 1 September 1916 that Jim would send all the younger brothers and sisters out of the room and, alone with his dying mother, would read to her from the novel he had just begun to write. May remembered because once or twice she managed to get overlooked, hiding under the sofa; and eventually Jim allowed her to stay for chapter after chapter.2 This must have been in the summer of 1903. It cannot have been later, for their mother died that August. Nor is it likely to have been earlier, since that would have been before Joyce left for Paris in early December 1902; nor, presumably, did these readings take place during the two or three weeks from late December 1902 to mid-January 1903 when Joyce, homesick, returned from Paris to spend Christmas in Dublin.

  • 3 Of these, the translation of ‘Before Sunrise’ survives in a carefully penned fair-copy manuscript. (...)
  • 4 To be precise: it is Stephen Daedalus in Stephen Hero who gives definitions and a discussion of the (...)

2We believe we know what James Joyce’s first attempts at writing were, in his late teens, before he left Ireland for Paris. They comprised juvenile and early poems, some journalistic efforts, two translations from the German of plays by Gerhart Hauptmann,3 and a miscellany made up of brief dramatic and narrative scenes and vividly visual accounts of dreams. Joyce considered this miscellany of short, intense and often highly poetic miniatures, quite original, to constitute a genre of its own. He defined it in terms of medieval theological philosophy, calling these early pieces ‘epiphanies’.4 They do not all survive, but some of those that do were actually written on board ship between France and Ireland. In Paris, he began to study medicine, spent many hours reading nonmedical books in libraries, and was altogether absorbed in the life of the city until called back by a telegram from his father. It reached him, let us assume, just as such a summons on a regular blue French telegram form reaches Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses: ‘Nother dying come home father.’ (U 3, 199) In Joyce’s life, this occurred in April 1903. Until August, he lived in Dublin, sharing the pain of his mother’s last four months. After her death, and a year of mourning, he left Ireland with Nora Barnacle on 8 October 1904, for what was to become a lifetime’s exile.

  • 5 The speculation is suggestive: cf. The James Joyce Songbook, ed. by Ruth Bauerle (New York: Garland (...)

3Joyce’s three and a half months or so in Paris in 1902–1903 seem to have been the gestation period for his first attempt at a longer narrative. If he did not actually begin writing his first novel there, he must have done so during the vigil, on his return. May Joyce, in her 1916 letter, congratulates her brother on the publication of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, which came out as a book that year. Waiting to receive and read her copy, she expects to recognise in it the story she had heard the beginnings of under the sofa back in her childhood, though much changed. Doubtless, what Joyce had read to his mother were its opening chapters, freshly drafted. It was thus in the summer of 1903, as James Joyce’s mother lay dying, that Stephen Daedalus/Dedalus was born into the life of his fictions, and of Joyce’s, and ultimately our, imagination. Taking him first through an entire novel of his own, from which he made him depart into exile, Joyce then brought him back to open Ulysses. There we encounter him suffering from the trauma of having failed his mother on her death bed. Substituting an Irish ballad for a Christian prayer, Stephen sang the song of Fergus at his mother’s bedside. James Joyce apparently solaced his mother with his own emerging fiction told in childhood scenes formed out of their close early relationship. And he, too, may in real life have sung the song of Fergus to his mother — and even have done so in a setting of his own.5 That he would have read her what he had written and sung her what he had composed goes together. Under the emotional strain of seeing her suffer, his creativity budded doubly into literature and music.

4The earliest traces that survive of the early Stephen Daedalus novel are notes dateable to late winter of 1904 at the back of a copybook. Prospectively sketching out the narrative from chapter VIII onwards, they suggest that its first seven chapters were by that time written. The grand plan, apparently, was for a book of sixty-three chapters, so a mere one-seventh was accomplished. Since, however, the ‘63’ seems to have been meant to be numerologically related to the periods of life of a man, the seven chapters were the rounded first seventh of a ninefold division into units of seven, and evidently encompassed early childhood. It makes sense to assume that these were the chapters Joyce wrote during his mother’s final illness and read to her before she died.

  • 6 For a photo-offprint reproduction of the copy-book, see The James Joyce Archive, vol. 7 (New York a (...)
  • 7 I gratefully acknowledge that it was John O’Hanlon who alerted me to May Joyce’s letter of 1 Septem (...)

5The effect of dating those seven lost opening chapters of the early Stephen Daedalus novel to the summer of 1903 is to shed new light on the text that constitutes the main entry in the copybook, and on its status in Joyce’s writing life. The copybook contains the autograph fair copy (and it is a fair copy, despite traces of having been worked over) of the narrative essay ‘A Portrait of the Artist’.6 Reassessing its position allows us, among other things, to regard it as a milestone in the process of development that ultimately led to Ulysses. James Joyce’s brother Stanislaus, asserting that the essay was written out of nowhere in a few days or a couple of weeks in January 1904, celebrated this essay — and prompted Richard Ellmann to do likewise — as a spontaneous overflow of genius. (In vindication of Stanislaus’s assumptions, it should, however, be remembered that Joyce himself could well have left his brother in the dark as to where the essay sprang from, and how he came to write it.) Brilliant though it undoubtedly is, it went entirely over the heads of the editors of Dana, who declined to publish it — and we can easily sympathise with their point of view: without hindsight as to the directions into which Joyce’s thoughts were taking, and the ways his writing was developing, we would find the essay’s arcane (actually, early modernist) aesthetics, its symbolist imagery and its convoluted and hermetic argument obscure, much as Dana’s editors must have done.7

  • 8 Though what Stanislaus heard James read, or was given to read, of the beginning of Stephen Hero aft (...)

6With no evidence to the contrary, we must accept Stanislaus’s boast that it was he who invented the title ‘Stephen Hero’ for what his brother sat down to write when Dana rejected ‘A Portrait of the Artist’. (Stanislaus also found the title ‘Chamber Music’ for James Joyce’s first collection of poems intended for the public.) What we can no longer accept is Stanislaus’s assertion that Joyce began writing Stephen Hero only after ‘A Portrait of the Artist’ was rejected,8 and that the essay is therefore the manifesto from which Stephen Hero first sprang. It is indeed a manifesto in the context of James Joyce’s oeuvre as a whole. But the blueprint it provided was not for Stephen Hero; it was, in essential points, for A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Yet its rejection by Dana made Joyce shy away from realising it, at least for the time being. Instead, he fell back on the Stephen Daedalus narrative — on Stephen Hero — which he had already begun, developing it further along the lines of that first beginning. This is indicated by the jottings and, in particular, the planning notes as they appear at the back of the ‘A Portrait of the Artist’ essay in the copybook. Returned by the editors of Dana, its spare blank pages were used for notes that bear no relation to chapters I to VII, but are earmarked for chapters VIII and after of Stephen Hero.

  • 9 The autobiographical element was quite obvious. The chapters were sent piecemeal from Trieste to St (...)

7It is now possible to recognise that ‘A Portrait of the Artist’ was an effort to break the pattern set up by the seven first chapters as read out in the summer of 1903, an attempt to work out an alternative way of writing the novel Joyce wanted to write. In other words: the essay marks not a point of origin, but a point of crisis in the emergence, eventually, of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The incomprehension the essay met with, however, prevented the vision it expressed from being realised until after Stephen Hero had foundered a second time. By the summer of 1905, Joyce had reached the end of his tether with it. In exile in Pola and Trieste, he had persevered with it through twenty-five chapters, arriving at the threshold of the present moment within his blatantly autobiographic narrative.9 Now his own life and that of his hero were zeroing in on one another, and it is no wonder he broke off; for, given the unabashed autobiography at its core, how could a novel conceivably be invented and carried forward from it to its hero’s old age by chapter 63? The impasse was inescapable, as was the need to recast the narrative in symbolic forms — in other words: precisely the need that ‘A Portrait of the Artist’ had acknowledged, could be staved off no longer. Yet it took Joyce a further two years, until the latter half of 1907, to work up the necessary momentum to rewrite his novel. The stories he accumulated in the interim and collected as Dubliners seem to have catalysed the Stephen Daedalus matter into a form expressive of its content; shifting it from autobiography to the deliberate artifice of an autonomous fiction.

8In the progress of Joyce’s oeuvre towards Ulysses, Dubliners is generically situated ahead of the Stephen Daedalus/Dedalus novel. This is so, in the first place, because the stories set the scene: they tell the city; but also, secondly, because they present themselves, both in their manuscripts and in print, as the writings of Stephen Daedalus. In 1904, The Irish Homestead (dubbed the ‘pig’s paper’ by Joyce) published the early versions of ‘The Sisters’, ‘Eveline’ and ‘After the Race’ one by one between July and December under that name.

  • 10 Throughout this volume, the sigla ‘D-G’,P-G’ adapt by analogy the citation conventions for editio (...)
  • 11 The editions of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners used for this essay are: Jame (...)
  • 12 I expand and refine on this echo-chamber of names and literary genres in the following essay, ‘He c (...)

9Since Joyce had begun to fictionalise his youthful autobiography through the persona of Stephen Daedalus, a thoroughly transparent version of himself, this appears at first sight no more than a private joke, aimed at his circle of Dublin friends who had been allowed to read the successive draft chapters for Stephen Hero. But he also signed the Dubliners stories in manuscript with Stephen’s name, and continued to do so during the entire time he was writing Stephen Hero and Dubliners in parallel; it was only after mid-1905 that he changed over to signing his story manuscripts ‘JAJ’. This persistence indicates how serious Joyce was in exploring the artistic identity that the pseudonym afforded. ‘Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead’ (P-G 5, 2791–92)10 is the invocation at the end of the final diary section of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,11 expressing the diarist’s self-identification with Daedalus/Icarus; and Stephanos garlanded in a martyr’s crown is accosted in mocking Greek in the latter half of A Portrait’s fourth chapter at the very moment when Stephen has decided to accept the martyrdom of art. Together, the martyr and the artificer offered role models that helped to construct the central character of the autobiographic novel, enabling Joyce also to devise a persona through whom he could identify his artistic self. It is as if by inventing Stephen Daedalus Joyce cut the key to unlock the portals to his own art and devised an agency and agent to transmute the contingencies of life into the meaningful structures and shapes of art. This agent allowed recognition, self-recognition, and reflection, and the laying open (or concealing) of the processes of transformation, as it also allowed aesthetic distancing, ironically refracting or radically subverting these processes. Signing his own work with his autobiographic hero’s name indicates just how intensely James Joyce felt and embraced its potential. And thereafter to rename the focal character of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man ‘Stephen Dedalus’ (however seemingly slight the change), and to name himself James Joyce, that novel’s author, signalled further a decisive advance in reflection and artistic distancing.12

  • 13 Letter to Stanislaus Joyce, 12 July 1905 (Letters II, p. 92), accompanying the dispatch of the manu (...)

10Once Stephen Hero had been put aside, the stories for Dubliners were written in swift succession, enabling Joyce to expand into an intense training period that developed his skills and crystallised the main strategies of his art. Narrative substance, plot and character only needed to be sustained for the length of one story at a time. Attention could be concentrated on significances, and on working them out in language. The stories’ pervasive quality lies in their precision of language — an aspect in which Joyce took particular pride: ‘I am uncommonly well pleased with these stories. There is a neat phrase of five words in The Boarding-House: find it!’13 Precision in the narrative rendering of reality went hand in hand with the linguistic precision, resulting in a symbolic heightening of the realistic detail; one might term Joyce’s manner of encapsulating significance in the realistically specific his symbolic realism. Father Flynn’s breaking the chalice, for instance, in ‘The Sisters’, and his lying in state with the broken chalice on his breast; or his sisters’ dispensing crackers and sherry (or: bread and wine) exemplify the strategy, as do the curtains of dusty cretonne in ‘Eveline’, the harp (‘heedless that her coverings had fallen about her knees’) in ‘Two Gallants’, Mary’s singing of ‘I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls’ in ‘Clay’, or the rusty bicycle pump in the garden of the deceased priest at the opening of ‘Araby’ (it lacks air, or pneuma, much like the ‘rheumatic [pneumatic] wheels’ in ‘The Sisters’). Significant structuring and symbolic form, furthermore, become increasingly conscious devices, as when in ‘Two Gallants’ the futile circularity of the daily life of unemployed young men in Dublin is expressed by Lenehan idly circling through the Dublin streets while Corley is taking advantage of a slavey to induce her to steal from her employer a ‘small gold-coin’; or when ‘Grace’ moves from the hell of a downstairs pub lavatory, via the purgatory of Kernan’s lying convalescent in bed, to the paradise of Father Purdon’s perverse sermon to ‘business men and professional men’ that sets up ‘the worshippers of Mammon’ as their example. This last structure, in particular, is devised to refer both to the orthodox Christian division of the realms of the dead, and to an intertext, Dante’s Divina Commedia.

  • 14 Hugh Kenner has frequently guided Joyce readers to multi-level readings of Joyce’s texts; see, for (...)

11Writing against the foil of intertexts becomes central to Joyce’s art of narrative; from Dubliners, via A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses, to Finnegans Wake, it grows into a pervasive retelling of known stories. ‘The Sisters’, for example, the opening story in Dubliners, can be and has been successfully read against the foil of the Biblical narrative of Jesus visiting Mary, Martha and their resurrected brother Lazarus; and the full irony of the story that Frank tells in ‘Eveline’ unfolds only as one realises that the art of telling ‘Eveline’ depends on sustaining, alongside Eveline’s explicit text, the hidden subtexts of both Frank’s and the father’s stories. Ulysses, as is well known, combines the homeomorph stories of Odysseus, Don Giovanni and Hamlet (to mention only the most significant), and in Finnegans Wake such homeomorphology becomes the all-encompassing principle of weaving the text, and of patterning the very language devised to voice its narratives.14

  • 15 In what follows, my account of the intertexts for ‘The Dead’, as well as for A Portrait of the Arti (...)

12How this strategy of retelling stories becomes increasingly central to the progress of Joyce’s art can be observed in stages from the final Dubliners tale, ‘The Dead’, via A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man to the inception of Ulysses. But the continuity of the process has only most recently been brought to light.15 The night of ‘The Dead’ is, specifically, Twelfth Night, by which the Christian feast of the Epiphany of the Lord overwrites the Saturnalia of the Roman calendar. And, as it happens, there already exists a well-known Latin text dating from early Christian times that provides a model for the cultural shock implied in that act of substitution. This text is the Saturnalia by Macrobius, in which a Christian, Evangelus, with two companions, breaks in on a convivial gathering of representative pre-Christian intellectuals. The story invokes, and gains significant structural parameters from a traditional Varronian rule that defines and limits the number of guests at a feast: they should be no more than the number of the Muses (nine), and no less than the number of the Graces (three). In the ensuing argument between the host at the ongoing party of nine and the three new arrivals, they agree to suspend the rule so as to make room for twelve guests. Evangelus, however, urges on behalf of the (ungracious) trinity of gate-crashers a further juggling with the numerology so that the host (Christ-like) is simultaneously included and excluded in the count, thus suggesting the 12+ 1 constellation of the Christian Last Supper.

13Deliberate references to Macrobius’s Saturnalia can be seen in ‘The Dead’: the Miss Morkans are apostrophised as the three Graces of the Dublin musical world, and the rest of the female characters add up to nine, albeit not without some further juggling to accommodate Miss Ivors’ early departure, perhaps made up for by The Lass of Aughrim’s late appearance (and in a song only, so that she is at once absent and present), and/or Mary Jane Morkan’s doing double duty as Grace and Muse — her model in Greek mythology, in this respect, would be Thalia, at once one of the Graces and the Muse of history. The (mock-) substitution of the symposiastic sum of 9 + 3 by the thirteen of the sacramental Christian meal is reflected in the precisely thirteen goodnights exchanged as the party breaks up. In the chatter of voices when everybody is saying her or his ‘good-night’ almost simultaneously, the moment is rendered with realistic precision. But, as set out on the page, it is also so conspicuous that we recognise its design in the vein of Joyce’s symbolic realism.

  • 16 The term ‘intertext’ of critical convention that I have resorted to here I have reconceptualised as (...)

14The local effect of this symbolically realistic moment is thus coupled with the encompassing intertextual patterning, and the two reinforce each other. Both are Joycean strategies to invoke larger significances for a given narrative, and to universalise the stories being told. But the setting up of Macrobius’s Saturnalia as a foil for ‘The Dead’ creates significations that are only apparent to the reader. None of the characters possesses, nor does any feature of everyday contemporary Dublin life betray the least consciousness that they relate to, and may be read in terms of, an underlying intertext. But for the reader recognising the connection, text and intertext appear knitted into a web of meanings whose ironies and subversions arise from the narrative and its submerged foil together. We are accustomed to recognising such intertextual interweaving in the case of Ulysses, but until now, the assumption has been that the construction of Ulysses against the intertext of Homer’s Odyssey constituted a genuinely new departure for Joyce (despite a playful anticipation or two, such as the Biblical story of Mary, Martha and Lazarus suggested as a frame of reference for ‘The Sisters’). Recognising that this structural principle is already firmly in place in ‘The Dead’ certainly increases our understanding of the complexities of signification in Joyce’s texts, and of the continuities within the oeuvre.16 Heading for Ulysses, these continuities are carried forward from Dubliners, and ‘The Dead’, through the Stephen Daedalus/Dedalus novel as rewritten into A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

  • 17 The study from which above all the readings of Joyce’s ironies emanated was Hugh Kenner, Dublin’s J (...)

15A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has traditionally been contrasted with Ulysses on the grounds that, while Stephen Dedalus in A Portrait is only too conscious of his double identity as Daedalus and Icarus (as well as of a third identity as Stephen the martyr, which he extends to include Charles Stewart Parnell, and even grandiosely Jesus Christ), the Stephen Dedalus of Ulysses has no awareness that he is Telemachus, nor does Leopold Bloom know he is Odysseus, nor Molly Bloom that she is Penelope—and this applies to every other character, fleetingly cast into one or another Odyssean role or constellation; it even applies to Bloom’s cigar that he smokes in ‘Cyclops’, which only the reader can relate to the spear with the glowing tip used by Odysseus to blind the Polyphemus; or to the waterways of Dublin that, for the reader, stand in for the four rivers of the underworld. While this distinction holds good, there is more to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, in terms of intertextuality, than has hitherto met the eye. Indeed, Stephen Dedalus’s eagerness to subscribe to the Daedalian identifications ought to have raised our suspicions — ought to have raised them when the text’s complex ironies were first recognised half a century ago — that the demonstrative selfawareness with which he is endowed conceals something beyond,17 something that we ought to have recognised over (as it were) his head. What it conceals is an intertext cunningly hiding beneath an identical name. The equation of identity that governs A Portrait might be formulated as: ‘Dedalus: Daedalus = Metamorphoses: Metamorphoses’. The apparently identical terms ‘Metamorphoses’ in this equation actually refer to different texts: one is Ovid’s Metamorphoses. The other is Apuleius’s The Golden Ass, which since antiquity has also always been known by the alternative title, ‘Metamorphoses’.

16But, how do the Apuleian Metamorphoses differ from those of Ovid, with regard to the legend of Daedalus? Ovid, one might say, gives civilised Rome the civilised and accultured aspect of the myth. He tells of the great craftsman and artist who, to fly from the realm of barbarian tyranny in Crete, ingeniously constructed wings for himself and his son. Yet fate was tragically against him: he lost his son over the sea. But precisely because of this tragic turn, Ovid’s Daedalus stands assured of our respect and compassion. The noble tears he sheds for Icarus are vicariously ours, and the humane obsequies he observes for him are communal bonds of our culture and civilisation that the myth helps to establish. Daedalus, in supreme command of his skills and art, wings loftily through safe middle air towards an Apollonian apotheosis. Adopting Ovid’s perspective on the Daedalian legend, we marginalise or repress the darker side of the myth. But it is this that the Metamorphoses of Apuleius remember. The Golden Ass does not allow us to forget that Daedalus aided and abetted lust and deceit, was subservient to Minos, the tyrant of Crete, and pandered to the bestial cravings of his queen Pasiphae. The Minotaurus is the offspring of Pasiphae’s unnatural coupling with Taurus, the sacrificial bull, with whom she deceived Minos, but whom she equally deceived in her cow’s disguise that Daedalus welded — or, in proper A Portrait parlance: forged — for her. The Minotaurus is thus the horrible incarnation of the Daedalian craftsmanship; and the labyrinth, built to hide away the monster, is the consummation in perversity of Daedalus’s art, designed as it is to contain and conceal the scandal infesting that art to the very roots. The secrets that it harbours and the desires it serves are the Dionysian earthbound entanglements of the heavenward Daedalian flight.

17Stephen Dedalus, however, is unconscious of the dark sides of the Daedalus myth. He is unaware that, if he can see himself as Icarus, he might equally link himself in imagination with Taurus and Minotaurus. His father, it is true — who ‘had a hairy face’ (P-G 1, 6) — hands down to him, as if in a gesture of initiation, his veiled version of the family legend. As a toddler hearing the tale, Stephen does not connect the moocow—in other words Pasiphae, now translated, as it were, into a fairy-tale — either with Taurus, the sacrificial bull, or his own mother. Consequently, he remains ignorant—as the child remains ignorant of the sexuality of its parents — of how deeply the story implicates and compromises the father. There comes the moment, on the threshold to adolescence, when Stephen (Stephen Minotaurus, one might say) imagines himself a foster child (P-G 2, 1359). Yet to test that truth, if truth it is, it never occurs to him to anagrammatise his father’s given name: Simon = Minos. Nor does Stephen, as he grows in self-awareness and learns both intellectually and emotionally to project his aspirations to art onto the Ovidian Daedalus, ever find a text — other than the guilt-inducing Christian text of the fall of man into sin — through which to acknowledge the sensual and instinctual sides of his experience, and specifically those of his bodily cravings and sexual lusts, as integral to the human condition.

  • 18 Dieter Fuchs, at this point, goes on to argue that Joyce is here actually hinting at the literary a (...)

18If these weavings of the Apuleian Metamorphoses into A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man are so manifest and so significant, how is it that they have passed unnoticed for so long? The simplest explanation is that we have listened too uncritically to Stephen Dedalus, and with too insufficient an awareness to the text that tells his story, and to his author. Stephen, as he himself records, has been taught to construe the Metamorphoses according to Ovid (cf. P-G 5, 188), and it is in this mode that he identifies with Daedalus (and Icarus). But if Stephen thoughtlessly adopted Ovid’s Apollonian perspective as his own, then so, commonly, have we. And so we have failed to extend to Stephen’s self-identification with Daedalus the general critical insight that, throughout, A Portrait of Artist as a Young Man ironically distances, as it narratively undercuts, its protagonist. Perhaps we should have known to know better. For James Joyce actually goes to the length of staging his own authorial self to announce that the tale the reader is about to encounter will turn the mind to the unknown — though he does so most cunningly, in words culled from Ovid. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is unique among Joyce’s works in carrying a motto: ‘Et ignotas animum dimittit in artes’ — ‘he turns the mind to unknown arts’, the words Ovid uses of Daedalus at Metamorphoses VIII, 188. Prefaced as they are to the book about Stephen Dedalus, it might plausibly be assumed that they refer to its protagonist. But they may also refer to the book itself and express its author’s sense of its artfulness. For what are these ‘unknown arts’? And might they equally be ‘dark’, ‘hidden’, ‘lowly’? since these are also lexically possible meanings for ‘ignotus’.18 Hidden in this motto may be reading instructions that open wider perspectives to our understanding.

  • 19 The device was one of considerable originality in literature at the onset of the twentieth century, (...)

19Such perspectives are opened by James Joyce’s archaeological explorations of modes of writing and thought from antiquity, modes that challenge those privileged by the traditions of Christianity, and what Christianity canonised from the Graeco-Roman literary and philosophical heritage. Thus in spelling out for himself what it would mean to leave the Church and become a writer, Joyce proceeded radically, in the literal sense of the word, to unearth the roots of marginal or lowly texts from antiquity such as the Saturnalia of Macrobius and The Golden Ass, or Metamorphoses, of Apuleius. Yet he did not do so as an historian or ethnologist of literature, but as an aspiring writer endeavouring to anchor the heady intellectualisms of his day — Pater, Nietzsche, Wagner, Ibsen, Maeterlinck, Hauptmann — in a literary enterprise of his own, grounded upon prose narrative. The strategy he developed to shape that enterprise was to project contemporary everyday experience onto ancient texts and their frameworks of character and plot, theme, ethics and morality.19 In ‘The Dead’, the main emphasis of the allusions to the Saturnalia of Macrobius would seem to be thematic and moral. The intertextual relationship helps to move Dublin’s paralytic stasis between death and religion onto a more general level of perception and understanding. At the same time, although it is adequately signalled, the intertextuality here remains largely an ingenious game and virtuoso performance. In A Portrait, by contrast, the Apuleius foil functions at the level of character and is intensely personalised. In this respect, it explores what it may mean to offer a portrait of the artist as a young man in terms of that young man’s ignorance and blindness to aspects of his own identity. Once we have recognised the relationship between the Daedalian texts, we are invited to reflect just how carefully Stephen Dedalus avoids searching for his identity among the darker sides of the Daedalus myth. It seems that we are meant to perceive this as a youthful failing in Stephen. To weld the two halves — the conscious and the unconscious — of the Daedalus myth together into a whole would mean arriving at the maturity of a comprehensive world view, and a full sense and understanding of the human condition, a sense that Stephen Dedalus knows how to phrase, though not yet how to live, at the end of his novel: ‘I go to encounter […] the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.’ (P-G 5, 2788–90) It would mean reaching a world view and an understanding unfettered by religion and the precepts and threats of the Church, yet still tied into the text of an encompassing myth. But, for all its wholeness, where the text structuring the human condition and its perception is fatefully grounded, as is the Daedalian myth, its implications would be tragic. Arguably, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man brings Joyce as close as he ever gets to the tragic mode.

  • 20 Joseph Prescott, ed., ‘Conversations with James Joyce [by] Georges Borach’, College English, 15 (19 (...)
  • 21 Though when it comes to Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses, Joyce does not spurn the younger tradition; but (...)
  • 22 The title considerably predated the work we know under the name: ‘Ulysses’ was originally the title (...)
  • 23 What is also important to note is that, as Kevin Barry emphasises, the occasional writings from Jam (...)

20James Joyce’s remark, made in a conversation in later years, has often been quoted — that as he was writing A Portrait, he increasingly felt that the myth of Daedalus needed to be followed by the myth of Odysseus.20 He was never apparently asked, nor did he explain, just what he meant by that remark, yet it fits perfectly into the present argument. In compass, the myth of Odysseus surpasses the myth of Daedalus. From the private and individualised applicability of the myth of Daedalus to the artist, Joyce progressed to the universal applicability of the myth of Odysseus—Odysseus being, in Joyce’s declared opinion, the most complete man: son, father, husband, citizen; and he added, significantly: in all this, Odysseus outscores Jesus Christ. This rendered the Odyssey both anterior and superior to any possible intertext from the Christian tradition,21 and so, in terms of the Joycean enterprise, the line of foil narratives from antiquity led consistently back from Macrobius’s Saturnalia via Apuleius’s Metamorphoses to Homer’s Odyssey. But now Joyce also decisively adjusted his strategies. With Ulysses, he abandoned his earlier hermetic silence. From the invention of the title, before the book was actually begun,22 to the later devising of schemata to ‘explain’ Ulysses to its first readers, Joyce no longer concealed that he had chosen the Odyssey as a foil for his novel. With the widening compass of the Odyssey, moreover, and with Odysseus/Leopold Bloom as the universal man, Joyce also changed his note to comic.23 He generated Ulysses from, and inscribed it within, the tradition of the great European comic narrative of Rabelais, Swift or Sterne.


21In the summer of 1905, Stephen Hero had been put on hold. Dubliners was ready to leave Joyce’s hands in 1906, and would have been published as a collection of fourteen stories, with ‘Grace’ as its conclusion. But the vicissitudes began to make themselves felt that persisted eventually until 1914. With Grant Richards of London having withdrawn from the publication, and prospects of finding another publisher highly uncertain, Joyce wrote ‘The Dead’ in 1906–1907; it became the collection’s fifteenth story, and its capstone. Integral to the collection as it is, ‘The Dead’ is at the same time so singular that it might equally claim to stand on its own within the oeuvre. It is commonly understood, moreover, that it was writing ‘The Dead’ that opened up the impasse that the Stephen Daedalus narrative had reached in 1905. With ‘The Dead’, as we have noted, Joyce significantly developed strategies of narrating his fictions against the foil of intertexts, or in other words, to tell his stories as tales retold. In taking up his novel again, Joyce radically reconceptualised it. No longer did he tell it of himself in the guise of Stephen Daedalus, that is, in a mode of veiled autobiographic mimeticism. Instead, he projected his narrative of Stephen Daedalus onto the myth of Daedalus, and to this end he made the central character — whom he now calls Stephen Dedalus — in turn project his consciousness onto the mythical Daedalus and Icarus (even though only partially so, as we have seen); as well as onto several other figures besides.

22But abandoning the straight (auto-)biographical tale required inventing a new narrative structure. How was the novel to be shaped, and the Stephen Dedalus story matter to be rearranged and fitted to the mould of the myth? In structural terms, relating a story and relating a myth are different processes: a story, and particularly a biography, progresses in time, whereas a myth is essentially timeless; its relation consequently does not depend on (though it may resort to) a temporal organisation of the narrative. Here lay a formidable challenge, and Joyce embraced it. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, as we know, works polyphonically on the levels both of biographical story and significative myth. Yet it took Joyce close to seven years to accomplish such a composition, from 8 September 1907 to late-1913, or even into the year 1914 when, from his thirty-second birthday on 2 February onwards, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man began to appear in instalments in the London literary magazine The Egoist.

23Through those years, Joyce was living in Trieste with his young family, and teaching English at the Berlitz school, and as a private tutor. He also lectured occasionally at an institution for adult education, and periodically contributed articles on Irish themes to the Trieste newspaper Il Piccolo della Sera. He led an intense social life and, among other activities, organised a group of investors to finance a cinema in Dublin (the Volta theatre, which failed). He fought heroically to see Dubliners published, which (together with the Volta project) involved trips to Dublin in 1909 and 1912 (his only returns to Ireland in his lifetime). In his efforts on behalf of Dubliners, he met with setback after setback. While in Dublin in 1909, he also suffered — while equally contributing to the invention of — an injury to his sense of his intimate relationship with Nora. Falling for slanderous allegations from false friends, he imagined that Nora had betrayed him with a mutual friend back in 1904 when they were first courting. The imaginary situation, and the real anguish and jealousy it caused, were to become source texts to be retold fictionally both in the play Exiles, and in Ulysses.

24Yet while such facts and circumstances of Joyce’s life are well known, and we assume their close connection with his writing, we actually know very little about the effect that his daily life, its calms and turbulences, had on Joyce’s progress with A Portrait. What evidence there is suggests that he had drafted three chapters, though probably without an end to the third, by 7 April 1908, and that he worked a beginning for the fourth in the further course of that year, but then got stuck. Early in 1909, he got to talk to one of his private pupils about their mutual aspiration to authorship, and Joyce gave him the three-and-a-half-chapters to read. The pupil was Ettore Schmitz, better known in early European modernist literature by his pen name, Italo Svevo. Schmitz, in a letter of 8 February 1909, made some shrewd criticisms. His response appears to have encouraged Joyce to continue writing, completing the fourth chapter, and commencing the fifth.

  • 24 Meaning not a blot in the loose-leaf lots for chapters four and five that survive from that auto-da (...)

25But then the second major crisis in the book’s development occurred, comparable most closely to the phase of doubt and searching that befell Joyce upon drafting the first seven chapters for Stephen Hero (and after his mother’s death). The earlier crisis had prompted the narrative essay ‘A Portrait of the Artist’, conceived as a first blueprint for A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The present crisis similarly turned into new openings. It broke at a juncture when A Portrait had materialised to the length of a draft of four chapters, and the opening of the fifth; and it culminated in the legendary incident of the burning of the manuscript. It was some time in 1911 that Joyce apparently fell into despair over his novel, and over the circumstances under which he was constrained to write it. The despair was honest enough, no doubt, though, at the same time, self-dramatisingly heightened. Joyce threw the manuscript in the stove (in the kitchen or in the living-room, in those days before central heating?). But the fire brigade of the women in the family was at hand (as Joyce had shrewdly calculated, we may surmise) to pull the chapter bundles back out of the flames at once; we have, from burns, received not a blot in his papers.24 Nora and Eileen wrapped the precious draft in an old sheet, where Joyce let it rest for several months before mustering the courage to resume the novel.

  • 25 The most thorough analysis of the Stephen Hero manuscript in itself, and in its relationship to A P (...)

26Joyce was not one lightly to discard anything once written. Though as a novel, and in terms of its overall conception and structure, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was an entirely fresh work, it nonetheless reprocessed characters and numerous incidents from Stephen Hero, and drew a great deal on its language.25 How Joyce turned the earlier text into a quarry for the later one can be studied from the surviving Stephen Hero fragment. Spanning chapters 15 to 25, on 401 leaves from the Stephen Hero manuscript that extended to approximately 914 leaves as a whole, it corresponds to the fifth chapter of A Portrait. In its pages, a large number of expressions and phrases are tagged as composition notes, or for direct reuse. Two interlined notes, moreover, are phrased ‘End of First Episode of V’ and ‘End of Second Episode of V’. What they indicate is Joyce’s new ground plan for the novel, abandoning the division of Stephen Hero into short chapters, and constructing the long A Portrait chapters, five in all, as sequences of episodic sub-divisions. It is likely that over the years from 1907 to 1911, chapters one to four of A Portrait were consistently composed in this manner. This cannot be positively demonstrated, since the manuscript of the fourteen chapters of Stephen Hero corresponding to chapters one to four of A Portrait which would have shown traces of how they were rewritten is lost. But the effects of the rewriting process are discernible. In its final form, it is chapter two of A Portrait that still shows most clearly the kind of progression by episodic sub-division that would have resulted, had chapter five been designed according to the pattern implied in the markings for ‘Episode […] IV’ and ‘Episode […] V’ in the extant Stephen Hero manuscript fragment.

27But as finally shaped, the chapter was composed in four sections, or movements, and their structure was not biographic, but thematic. Chapter five takes Stephen through encounters with the dean of studies, fellow students and friends, debating, one after another, the subjects that trouble and concern him and are in one way or another relevant to the decisions he is about to reach concerning his own future. These encounters occupy the chapter’s first and third movements. Dominant among the themes of the first movement is Stephen’s aesthetic theorizing; the third movement gravitates towards his rejection of home, country and religion, and his decision to fly — though, unlike Daedalus, he does not fly back home, but into exile. These first and third movements frame the second that, in a manner, gives us ‘a portrait of the artist as a young man’: it describes Stephen waking up one morning and composing a poem. The fifth chapter’s fourth movement, which concludes the book, is written in the form of excerpts from Stephen Dedalus’s diary. It is a coda to the chapter. At the same time, taken as a part of the book as a whole, we recognise it as the novel’s closing frame, corresponding to the brief initial movement of chapter one where Stephen’s father tells the story of the moocow, and Stephen himself speaks the magic spell (in the mode of oral poetry) to ward off the threat of eagles coming to pull out his eyes. This is the book’s opening frame: the whole novel is actually held between this prelude and the coda. Looking more closely at the narrative, we discover that chapter one is the mirror image of chapter five. After the early-childhood prelude three movements follow, of which the second and fourth treat of Stephen’s sufferings and triumphs at Clongowes; these again frame a contrasting scene, that of the Dedalus family’s Christmas dinner.

28How this mirroring was devised can be inferred from relating the physical features of the A Portrait fair-copy manuscript to Italo Svevo’s 1909 letter to James Joyce. As explained above, only the pages of chapter four and the opening of chapter five in the extant fair-copy manuscript physically formed part, originally, of the manuscript thrown in the fire and rescued in 1911. This means that chapters one to three as contained in the fair copy were entirely recopied, and thus doubtless thoroughly revised, after the burning incident. We cannot therefore know exactly what it was that Italo Svevo read. Yet it is unlikely to have been what we now have as the beginning of A Portrait of the Artist Young Man. Svevo declared the novel’s opening to be ‘devoid of importance and your rigid method of observation and description does not allow you to enrich a fact which is not rich by itself. You should write only about strong things’ (Letters II, p. 227). This would scarcely be a fair assessment of the chapter in its final state. Beside the poetic richness of the page and a half of the prelude of early childhood, an outstanding element giving the chapter strength is the Christmas Dinner scene. But there are indications that this did not form part of the opening chapter that Svevo read. The planning notes at the end of the ‘A Portrait of the Artist’ copybook (see above) group a ‘Christmas party’ with other material for chapter VIII, which means with material that was later assigned to chapter two of A Portrait. Also, the second chapter as we have it preserves traces of an earlier A Portrait version that might in its turn still have accommodated a Christmas dinner. The post-1911 revision of the manuscript rescued from the fire would, among much other reshaping, have involved moving the Christmas Dinner scene from chapter two to chapter one. That move still left chapter two ordered essentially as a sequence of episodes. But, viewed thematically, that sequence led inexorably into the darkness of Dublin and, in terms of Stephen’s Christian education, of sin. Correspondingly, chapter four could be perceived as reversing that movement, since it led Stephen out of the prison of a life-long commitment to the Church, and into a Daedalian flight towards art. The whole novel thus pivots symmetrically on the third chapter, and the hell sermons are the chapter’s and the book’s dead centre.

  • 26 Poems and Shorter Writings, p. 211.

29The compositional achievement was momentous. By superimposing a spatial, and hence an atemporal, structure on a sequential and chronological one, the novel resolved the contradiction between telling a story and telling a myth. This also decisively raised the significance of the story matter. While Stephen Dedalus’s early years, as they unrolled from childhood to university, provided merely a personal and individual series of events and emotions (‘devoid of importance’, as Ettore Schmitz saw it), the mid-centred mirroring pattern, into which the relating of that life was organised, proved capable of generalising the story and lending it a mythic quality and a universal appeal. In addition, the temporal arrest that the framing symmetries effected created the illusion of a portrait, as it were, painted and rhythmicised in language. This fulfilled a central tenet of the 1904 blueprint in the essay ‘A Portrait of the Artist’: ‘to liberate from the personalised lumps of matter that which is their individuating rhythm, the first or formal relation of their parts’;26 and one might add that Joyce was thus himself already endeavouring to fuse the modes in Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s distinction of the spatial Nebeneinander of pictorial art and the temporal Nacheinander in the arts of literature and music that he later made Stephen Dedalus reflect upon in the opening paragraph of the ‘Proteus’ episode of Ulysses.


  • 27 Baroque altar-pieces are typically organised thus on a central axis of symmetry, as well as baroque (...)
  • 28 For the Wagner and Meistersinger connections, see Timothy Martin, Joyce and Wagner. A Study of Infl (...)

30In converting chapters XV to XXV of Stephen Hero — its ‘University episode’, as he himself referred to it — into chapter five of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce found a new shape for the chapter and, in consequence, realised the mid-centred, chiastic structure for the entire novel that we have described.27 His search for a solution to the chapter’s and the novel’s structural problems took him through an intense trial period, to be dated probably to 1912, after the 1911 burning incident. In its new form, as we have seen, the chapter leads Stephen into exile not through a sequence of disjunct narrative episodes, but through a rapid series of encounters with other figures whose conversations progressively define for him who he is and what he wants, in a process that is ostensibly dramatic and naturalistic, while at another level it is one of inner clarification and self-definition. To find an analogy and possible model for this structure we might profitably turn from literature to another art form, that of opera. It was Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg that Joyce, in his mostly pro-Wagnerian moments (though apparently he also had anti-Wagnerian ones), declared his favourite Wagner opera. In the third act of Die Meistersinger, Hans Sachs, the protagonist, moves through conversations that similarly induce a series of self-recognitions: with David, his apprentice; with Walther Stolzing, the young aristocrat who, to win Eva Pogner, wins Sachs to help him renew the masters’art of poetry; with Beckmesser, in every way the antagonist and blocking character in the comedy; and with Eva, whom Sachs, the aging widower, renounces in favour of Walther, whom she loves. The pivot of this sequence, framed between David’s exit and Beckmesser’s entry, is the composition, the working-out and drafting, of Stolzing’s ‘Preislied’. It emerges, one stanza after another, and flowers as a specimen of the new art from the seedbed (as it were) of the old — not altogether unlike the way that the ‘Villanelle’ emerges, stanza upon stanza, from the memories and emotions in the self-recognition of Stephen Dedalus. For both Stolzing and Stephen, too, their poems flow from the inspiration of an early morning dream. The ‘Villanelle’ movement in A Portrait culminates in a full-text rendering of the new poem. The third act of Meistersinger, having plummeted once more to the prosaic ground of Hans Sachs’s exchange with Beckmesser, takes wing afresh and rises from level to level of ecstasy, in its turn not unlike the ‘Villanelle’ movement in A Portrait, and soars finally to the height of the celebrated quintet, epitome of the new art in music of Richard Wagner himself. For whatever circumstantial evidence is worth: it may well be relevant that, in 1909 in Trieste, Joyce arranged a live performance of precisely that quintet from the third act, with — may we assume? — himself, superior tenor, in the part of Walther Stolzing, the artist as a young aristocrat.28

31Joyce also, apparently, carried out experiments on chapter five of A Portrait that he eventually abandoned, or suspended. While still composing the chapter in episodes, he drafted part of a kitchen scene between Stephen and his mother, which has been preserved. This is an attempt at recasting a similar scene from Stephen Hero and shows, by implication, that the decision to eliminate Stephen’s mother from the chapter was taken at a late stage. More significant, perhaps, for the fields of creative force in which the experiments with chapter five are situated is the reference, in the fragment, to a character named Doherty. This is a fictionalised Gogarty, and thus a prototype of Buck Mulligan known from the opening of Ulysses. Seven years earlier, we may remember, the Dublin friends of the Joyce brothers who were allowed to read the ‘University episode’ chapters of Stephen Hero were eagerly awaiting the writing-up of the Martello Tower incidents. In view of the reference to Doherty in the kitchen scene fragment, it is tempting to assume that Joyce, at the time when he drafted and fair-copied the fragment, still considered narrating those incidents and actually contemplated a Martello Tower ending for A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Reconceiving chapter five in its four-movement shape, and ending with Stephen’s departure into exile, therefore also entailed holding over for later use the unachieved writing that had accumulated around Stephen. Among that material was the Martello Tower matter. It was ultimately moulded into the beginning of Ulysses.

32Nor is this the only indication that the paths not taken for A Portrait became roads to, and inroads into, Ulysses. Within the four-movement structure of chapter five of A Portrait, as Joyce reconceptualised it after he abandoned the episodic form, one may also find structural pointers to a time scheme which, although not realised, is nonetheless of great interest. Stephen Dedalus, we note, leaves the family house and kitchen at the beginning of the chapter and at the end goes into exile. If we take it that the verbal skirmishes he goes through in the chapter’s first movement are strung out over the course of a morning, he would arrive on the steps of the National Library around midday. The time then feels like mid-afternoon when he leaves again from those steps to resume his debates and his wanderings, and he finally parts from Cranly in the evening. It is with this parting, of course, that his exile symbolically begins. If the string of encounters through which Stephen talks himself free of Dublin were continued without interruption over the midday hours, so as to link the morning and the afternoon sequences, the outward movement from the family kitchen and into exile would be accomplished in one sweep in a single day. This would create a neat pattern enveloping A Portrait: the first year in chapter one, Stephen’s first and only school year at Clongowes, would be balanced against his last day at University in chapter five, the day he takes flight from Dublin into exile.

  • 29 It would also become seminal in the wider modernist context: Virginia Woolf, for instance, adopted (...)
  • 30 Since this was written, there have been other speculations about what ‘a fourth chapter’ for the Te (...)

33The single-day plan for the last chapter, of which the submerged outline can thus be discerned, was never realised. But it, too, was put to use in the book that followed: Ulysses was constructed upon it.29 The existence of the scheme, if transitory, is not simply a matter of speculation. A Portrait provides the topography for it, and Ulysses holds a clue to how it would have been filled out. Since the first movement of the fifth episode in A Portrait ends on the steps of the National Library with Stephen going in, and the third begins on the same steps as he comes out, the library itself would be the logical setting for Stephen to continue talking. And it is precisely the place where he does talk, holding his audience and the reader captive, in the ‘Scylla and Charybdis’ episode of Ulysses. That chapter was eventually placed half-way through Ulysses (half-way, that is, by count of the novel’s eighteen episodes): it was completed in roughly the shape in which we have it on New Year’s Eve, 1918. But during the first years of his thinking about Ulysses, Joyce mentioned in correspondence that he already had four Stephen Dedalus episodes to go into the new book — meaning, we can assume, the three opening episodes (‘Telemachus’, ‘Nestor’, ‘Proteus’), plus ‘Scylla and Charybdis’. Moreover, as early as 1916, before even a single episode for Ulysses had attained any shape we might be able to trace, he told Ezra Pound that he could let him have a ‘Hamlet’ episode as an initial sample. It stands to reason that this episode — an early version of ‘Scylla and Charybdis’ — belonged, with the Martello Tower opening, to materials from the A Portrait workshop that were reworked into Ulysses.30


  • 31 ‘Each chapter closes with a synthesis of triumph which the next destroys.’ Thus, inimitably succinc (...)

34We have considered the intertextual depths of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and noted the novel’s double construction through its counterpointing of (auto-)biography and myth. But A Portrait also has a further structural dimension, which might be defined as its epicyclical movement. In an early adumbration of Vico’s ricorso structure, on which Finnegans Wake would later be built, each A Portrait chapter culminates in a moment of heightened awareness and triumph for Stephen Dedalus, followed by a shattering of illusions in the following chapter.31 Thus, at the end of chapter one, Stephen gains justice from the rector of Clongowes but then discovers in chapter two that Father Dolan and Simon Dedalus had enjoyed a good laugh at his expense. At the end of chapter two, he experiences sensual fulfillment with the prostitute girl but falls into remorse and anguish in chapter three. At the end of chapter three, ‘the ciborium […] [comes] to him’, but the beginning of chapter four finds him dedicated to amending his life through tortuous religious exercises. At the end of chapter four, the vision of the bird-girl symbolises his aspirations to art, but the elation it gives is thoroughly undercut by the squalor of the family kitchen at the opening of chapter five. Only Stephen’s sense of soaring into exile at the novel’s conclusion seemingly endures — except that the Stephen Dedalus of Ulysses coldly strips it of all romantic idealism: ‘You flew. Where to? Newhaven-Dieppe, steerage passenger. Seabedabbled, fallen, weltering. Lapwing you are. Lapwing be.’ (U 9, 952–54)

35In terms of their materials and construction, the epicycles of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man depend upon the Joycean epiphany. The term acquired several distinct, though related senses as Joyce invented it, reflected upon it, and put it to productive as well as significative use over a period from the earliest beginnings of his writing until his immersion in the world of the realities and styles of Ulysses. The epiphany thus constitutes a seminal form of expression of Joyce’s art and a fundamental strategy of his craftsmanship.

36In Stephen Hero, it is Stephen Daedalus who is made to invent the term and circumscribe the notion: ‘By an epiphany he meant a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself. He believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments.’ To Cranly, he defines it in terms of aesthetics and epistemology:

  • 32 James Joyce, Stephen Hero, pp. 216; 218.

First we recognise that the object is one integral thing, then we recognise that it is an organised composite structure, a thing in fact: finally, when the relation of the parts is exquisite, when the parts are adjusted to the special point, we recognise that it is that thing which it is. Its soul, its whatness, leaps to us from the vestment of its appearance. The soul of the commonest object, the structure of which is so adjusted, seems to us radiant. The object achieves its epiphany.32

37This definition covers perfectly the brief individual compositions — terse dramatic dialogues, sensitively rhetorical prose pieces and poetically heightened dream protocols — that James Joyce himself was wont to put to paper, even well before attempting to write narrative. His epiphanies were stirring pieces, and were inspired in the first place by the power of actual situations and overheard speech to move the intellect and emotions. Wrought in language, epiphanies recorded had the potential, furthermore, to induce a sudden insight into the essence of things, whether in the observer or the reader. Joyce thus came to conceive of the epiphany in terms of the medium of his art, and in terms both of the production and the reception of his writing. This double focus allowed the Joycean epiphany to develop from a brief and isolated individual composition and to become integrated into continuous flows of narrative. There it was used both to heighten given situations in the experience of the characters, and also to illuminate and structure moments of significance for the reader. In the development of Joyce’s art, the narrative form thus came to absorb the epiphany. Notably, in consequence, the Stephen Dedalus of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is made to reflect Joyce’s changed perspective. Although he still implies the epiphanic concept in the aesthetics he develops to Lynch (cf. P-G 5, 1082–469), he does not use the term ‘epiphany’. The Stephen Dedalus of Ulysses, finally, no longer even seems to know his earlier namesake’s aesthetic theory; instead, and with sarcastic self-irony, he remembers indulging in the practice of the epiphany: ‘Remember your epiphanies written on green oval leaves, deeply deep, copies to be sent if you died to all the great libraries of the world, including Alexandria?’ (U 3, 141–44)

  • 33 The surviving twenty-two epiphanies of the numbered sequence in Joyce’s own hand are reproduced in (...)
  • 34 I take a closer look in the subsequent essay, ‘He chronicled with patience’, specifically at the in (...)

38As part of his workshop economy, Joyce evidently took a sober and practical view of his epiphanies. His surviving papers show that, in order to reuse them, he strung them together to provide a working grid for an extended narrative. A sheaf of epiphanies, each one fair-copied in his own hand, is numbered consecutively (though with many gaps in the sequence) on their otherwise blank versos.33 This numbering does not seem to indicate the sequence in which the pieces were written, but appears intended for future use. Joyce’s extant longer texts, Stephen Hero, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and even particular passages in Ulysses, bear out this assumption.34

39The step from the redeployment of existing epiphanies to the intensifying of the narrative to epiphanic heights was then perhaps not so difficult. But it was momentous. The epicyclical structure of A Portrait depends on an art of writing capable not only of imaginatively concentrating each chapter ending to produce the epiphanic effect, but also to express it as the experience of Stephen Dedalus. In this way, Joyce used epiphanic imaging to release the energies of language to induce insight, and equally to create the consciousness of his characters. The epiphanies were also aimed at the reader. In the case of A Portrait, the counter-epiphanies (as one might call them) at the beginning of each new chapter, employed to undercut each preceding end-of-chapter epiphany, fail to strike Stephen as moments of illumination. Although he registers them on a level of facts, they do not mean much to him, intellectually, or even, at a deeper level, emotionally. The disillusion they convey (the ‘soul of the commonest object’) is directed towards the reader, adjusting our empathy or our sense of distance. Most succinctly, perhaps, this is how the transition from chapter four to chapter five works. For Stephen, the bleak poverty of his home does not cancel out the bird-girl experience on Sandymount strand. He is not fazed by the stark realities that the reader is intended to perceive, and thus walks buoyantly straight out through the end of the novel, and into exile. It is only later that the Stephen Dedalus of Ulysses will see himself and the contingencies of his life with a sober sense of the real. Elevation and idealisation will no longer do. The epiphany, as a method of shaping the fiction and conveying the consciousness of its characters, has served its turn.

  • 35 The title for the collection derives from the name ‘Giacomo Joyce’ inscribed in a child’s hand — ei (...)

40Nonetheless, Joyce did not relinquish the ingrained epiphanic habit of writing. Instead, he continued to prefabricate carefully phrased and narratively focused prose pieces that might, or would, eventually be fitted into larger compositional sequences. The most familiar example of this practice is the collection of segments of well-wrought prose known as ‘Giacomo Joyce’.35 This is most likely to have been written and compiled — perhaps while Joyce was working on Exiles — during a transitional period when the bulk of A Portrait had been completed, but the full-scale work on Ulysses had not yet begun. It reflects a fundamental habit of composition. The experimental exercises of ‘Giacomo Joyce’ are comparable, with hindsight, to the first-generation epiphanies of 1902–1904, written between the poetry of his youth and his first attempt at longer narrative composition with the Stephen Daedalus/Dedalus novel. Looking forward to the interval between Ulysses and ‘Work in Progress’ (Finnegans Wake), we can see the same process at work in the longer and experimentally more variegated narratives of around 1923, which Joyce himself, in passing, thought should be collected under the title of ‘Finn’ s Hotel’.

41But what is arguably Joyce’s most eloquent collection of purple passages has only recently been rediscovered. Just around the corner from Finn’s Hotel — the real one in Leinster Street, Dublin, where Nora Barnacle was employed, and where the old name is still faintly visible in black on the red brick wall that faces west towards the grounds of Trinity College — just around the corner from the real Finn’s Hotel, then, the National Library of Ireland now houses a newly acquired cache of Ulysses drafts. Among these is an early notebook assembly of segments of text, recognisably written in preparation for the third episode, ‘Proteus’. The seventeen passages, regularly separated by triple asterisks, bear witness beautifully to Joyce’s persistent epiphanic mode of writing. Perfected, no doubt, from lost earlier drafts, these texts are carefully penned in a fair hand, though with a liberal sprinkling of revisions. Several groupings are discernible in the assembly, which does not as a whole, however, form a consistent narrative.36 The Dublin notebook may be fruitfully compared with a manuscript subsequent to, though doubtless not contiguous with it that has long been known. This is the ‘Proteus’ draft, assigned the signature V.A.3 in the Joyce collection at the University at Buffalo. Not only have the passages from the Dublin notebook been fitted into this manuscript, with only minor adjustments to their text; but during intervening phases of work (of which no evidence survives), the episode has also been given a continuous narrative line. Between them, the Dublin notebook and the Buffalo manuscript strongly suggest that, writing ‘Proteus’, Joyce found it easier to articulate sequences of thought for Stephen, and to devise particular situations on Sandymount strand, than to construct a narrative that would support them.37 It is all the more fascinating, then, to be able to observe just how the structuring of this episode was eventually accomplished.

42The progress towards ‘Proteus’ from the Dublin notebook segments to the consecutive manuscript at Buffalo marks the moment when Joyce became fully aware that, in the process of writing, he could draw intertextually from his own earlier works just as much as from Bible stories, or the works of Macrobius, or Apuleius, or Homer, or Shakespeare. We have already noted that he quarried Stephen Hero for turns of phrase or narrative incidents to be used in A Portrait; and that, in Stephen Hero, as well as in A Portrait, he strung together epiphanies to generate narrative continuity. But what he was recycling there were largely raw materials, which he reworked into something new and different. Stephen Hero and A Portrait were not significantly linked through the probing of similarities and analogies in variation and contrast. On the contrary, A Portrait succeeds in thoroughly reworking the story of Stephen Dedalus precisely because its material is moulded to a structure radically different from that of Stephen Hero.

  • 38 This is an idea I first put forward in ‘Narrative Rereadings: some remarks on “Proteus”, “Circe” an (...)

43In the case of ‘Proteus’, however, Joyce’s procedure was surprisingly different. The episode finds its form by invoking reminiscences of chapter five of A Portrait.38 Each of these is itinerant. In chapter five of A Portrait, Stephen Dedalus, in what is essentially a single continuous movement, walks out of Dublin and into exile. In ‘Proteus’, returned from exile, he walks along Sandymount strand, his steps now firmly directed back towards Dublin. The significance of his purposeful, if protean, wandering through the episode is heightened by its contrast with A Portrait. Implicit within this contrast are Stephen’s — and Joyce’s — explorations of what Stephen’s return to Dublin might mean. To this end, Joyce constructs Stephen’s meandering consciousness upon or around his actual itinerary along Sandymount strand. In his reflections and memories, Stephen is much concerned, in the first half of the episode, with three subjects: family, religion, and exile. This triad of themes recalls his avowal from A Portrait: ‘I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church’ (P-G 5, 2575–77), as well as ‘the only arms of defence’ he will allow himself to use: ‘silence, exile and cunning’ (2579). And we may also recall the rebellious impulse from which this sprang: ‘When the soul of a man is born in this country there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets.’ (1047–50)

44‘Proteus’ proceeds, I suggest, through a consecutive narrative built on an analogous triad. First, Stephen imagines a visit to aunt Sara’s which he does not make; then, by way of recalling hours in Marsh’s library, he reflects on the priestly routines of celebrating Mass; and thirdly, he embarks on memories of Paris, from where he has recently returned; memories that circle insistently around Patrice and Kevin Egan. These narrative exfoliations configure Stephen’s new nets to fly by, and they are contrasted with the triad from A Portrait which they first recapitulate, but finally revise. By not making the visit to aunt Sara’s, Stephen persists in evading the family net, just as by his sarcastic imagining of the priests at Mass he confirms his rejection of religion and the lure of priestly vows. Thus for a second time he successfully flies by two of the old nets, family and religion. But now, on returning to Dublin, he also realises that he has evaded a new net. Since A Portrait, he has experienced that the exile into which he fled from the snares laid for him in Ireland was in fact yet another net, cast out to entrap him. The narrative envisions the condition of exile, giving it significance through the figures of Patrice and Kevin Egan. They are Irish wild geese, banned from returning to their fatherland. Reflecting on their forlorn state — ‘They have forgotten Kevin Egan, not he them. Remembering thee, O Sion.’ (U 3, 263–64) — Stephen recognises the threat to his being that his own yearning for exile had held.

  • 39 This, in a noticeably different ink, is the final entry in the notebook. As will be observed, it is (...)
  • 40 The calculation is astonishingly accurate. In its final printed form, the episode runs to 505 lines (...)

45Once Joyce had hit upon the idea of moving into the episode through this triad of themes evoked in Stephen’s memories and reflections, the reorganising of the prose segments from the Dublin notebook must have followed with relative ease. Admittedly, there is no trace among these of the exposition of Stephen’s epistemology with which ‘Proteus’ now opens; but given Joyce’s habits of composition, it is just as likely that this was written as the episode’s capstone after he was sure of its overall structure. Otherwise the entire narrative body is already present in the shape of prefabricated building blocks. Linking together segments [9] (the two ‘midwives’), [5] (the consubstantiality of Father and Son and the heresiarch in the watercloset), [7] (the imagined visit to uncle Richie and aunt Sara), [4] (Marsh’s library and the priests at Mass), [17] (‘Paris is waking rawly’),39 and [8] (Kevin Egan) in a narrative flow brought the composition to the episode’s midpoint.40 The criss-cross movement [9]–[5]–[7]–[4]–[17]–[8] through the notebook confirms our assumption that the drafting of these segments predated the idea of how to stream them as a narrative.

46With six of the notebook’s seventeen entries used up in the first half of the episode, Joyce was then left with eleven segments from which to shape the second half. These, though again somewhat rearranged, are worked in largely as a sequence of immediate situations. For although the writing and the narrative remain complex because the entire episode is being filtered through Stephen’s consciousness, in the second half of the episode that consciousness simply takes the reader along Sandymount strand, registering what happens and what may be observed there, and drawing in whatever past and present events the shore brings to mind as Stephen walks along it. He strides forth from the Martello Tower and towards Dublin, setting his sights on the day and the evening ahead, like a pilgrim returning: ‘My cockle hat and staff and hismy sandal shoon. Where? To evening lands.’ (U 3, 487–88)

  • 41 Kingstown harbour was also where Parnell’s body was brought on 11 October 1891, a real event that S (...)

47As we have noted, Joyce repeatedly held back the intention to close the Stephen Daedalus/Dedalus novel at the Martello Tower. Opening Ulysses at the tower instead enabled him to write the coda of the earlier novel as prelude to the one that succeeded it. The logic of so opening Ulysses is both stringent and significant. In any version of the earlier novel ending at the tower, it would have been the place where Stephen’s flight from Dublin would have brought him; it would have been his real place of exile. The new novel, by contrast, brings him back from there, and the tower stands in for his exile symbolically. Stephen is ‘brought up’ (‘Come up, Kinch! Come up, you fearful jesuit!’ [U 1, 08]) onto the platform of the tower within eyesight of ‘the mailboat clearing the harbourmouth of Kingstown’ (U 1, 83–84) — a boat that may have just arrived from France, refuge of the Irish wild geese.41 Within the fiction, the Martello Tower, once built to ward off the French threat, now becomes the substitute locus of Stephen’s exile; and, as for Stephen experiencing the tower as an immediate threat to himself, he certainly frees himself with fierce determination from the nets of intimacy and cameraderie flung out by Mulligan and Haines; he leaves never to return. Moreover the tower, situated south-east and outside of Dublin, signifies Stephen’s final port of call on a journey that the text itself, in the way it is configured, retraces from France back to Dublin. A pilgrim returning, Stephen walks the home stretch, and we accompany him on these last miles of the rocky (sea-shore) road to Dublin, before the first movement of Ulysses, after its Telemachian prelude, begins in the midst of the city in Eccles street, and within earshot of George’s church.

  • 42 Identifying with figures from myth, history, or literature — Daedalus/Icarus, Parnell, Hamlet — per (...)

48As he walks into Dublin, Stephen is also potentially — though as later episodes will show, not irrevocably — striding out of Joyce’s narrative. In Ulysses, the evening lands that Stephen walks towards are those of Leopold Bloom’s domain. Stephen Dedalus cannot conceptualise or imagine them. Now that he is a character in Ulysses he no longer identifies with Daedalus or Icarus, but with Hamlet.42 By the end of the episode, he has adopted precisely the body pose and gesture with which Hamlet makes his final farewell to Ophelia (in a haunting scene brought vividly before our eyes, even though Shakespeare does not stage it but has Ophelia describe it to her father): ‘He turned his face over a shoulder, rere regardant.’ (U 3, 503) Looking backwards, Stephen is unable to turn his eyes in the direction his feet are taking him. He is ‘a character that cannot be changed’, as Joyce is known to have remarked to Frank Budgen. By contrast Joyce himself is on the threshold of radical changes and is at this point palpably all eyes and pen for Leopold Bloom, whose fictional life and adventures are about to begin in the next (the fourth) episode of Ulysses. The time of writing is 1917; this is the year of the Buffalo ‘Proteus’ draft V.A.3 and of the fair copy made of it, whose text is transmitted directly into the prepublications in the literary magazines The Little Review, New York, and The Egoist, London, in 1918, as well as into the novel’s first edition, published in Paris in 1922.

49‘—Ten years […] He is going to write something in ten years. […] I shouldn’t wonder if he did after all.’ And he did. Ten years after Joyce began to work on the Stephen Daedalus/Dedalus novel in 1903–1904, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man started appearing in instalments in The Egoist in 1914 — and on 2 February to boot, Joyce’s thirty-second birthday. With his real-time hindsight, Joyce naturally had no difficulty in putting this prophecy into the mouths of Mulligan and Haines as he wrote the tenth Ulysses episode in 1919. But the writing and publication of A Portrait would not have meant much to them; instead, they would have been expecting to reappear, ten years ahead, in a fiction that included themselves. If only to gratify them, then, we should date the important material beginnings of Ulysses at around 1912. Joyce probably separated the Dedalus materials to go into A Portrait from those going into Ulysses during the course of that year. Ten years later — it falling out pat as Mulligan and Haines foresaw — the publication of the first edition of Ulysses in 1922 revolutionised twentieth-century world literature. In terms of Ulysses, however, reckoning up the decades that Joyce took to write the novel takes us, on the one hand, back to 1904–1914, the years from reassessing the beginnings of Stephen Hero by way of ‘A Portrait of the Artist’ to the rounding off of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. But it also gives us, on the other hand, the decade from 1907 to 1917, during which Joyce created Stephen Dedalus for A Portrait, and later for Ulysses, until, with the ‘Proteus’ episode, he successfully wrote him out of his system. It was this achievement that freed James Joyce to cross his Daedalean ford of hurdles and engage with Leopold Bloom in the adventures of Ulysses.


1 James Joyce, Ulysses. A Critical and Synoptic Edition, prepared by Hans Walter Gabler with Wolfhard Steppe and Claus Melchior, 3 vols. (New York: Garland Publishing, 1984; 2nd issue 1986). The reading text from this edition is published in James Joyce, Ulysses, ed. by Hans Walter Gabler with Wolfhard Steppe and Claus Melchior (London: The Bodley Head; New York: Random House, 1986; 2nd issue 1993).

2 Letters of James Joyce, vol. II, ed. by Richard Ellmann (New York: Viking, 1966), p. 383.

3 Of these, the translation of ‘Before Sunrise’ survives in a carefully penned fair-copy manuscript. The translation of ‘Michael Kramer’ is lost, its last recorded whereabouts being among Mr Duffy’s papers in his desk drawer in the Dubliners story ‘A Painful Case’. Judging from ‘Before Sunrise’, the translations were hampered by Joyce’s limited competence in German. Nonetheless, they are highly impressive in his own language: Joyce captures the atmosphere of the Silesian dialect of the original in such a way that he anticipates, and so effectively invents, the stage Anglo-Irish that Synge and O’Casey introduced a few years later at the Abbey Theatre under the aegis of W. B. Yeats and Lady Gregory.

4 To be precise: it is Stephen Daedalus in Stephen Hero who gives definitions and a discussion of the epiphany (cf. James Joyce, Stephen Hero (London: Jonathan Cape, [1944] 1969), pp. 216–18; and see further, below).

5 The speculation is suggestive: cf. The James Joyce Songbook, ed. by Ruth Bauerle (New York: Garland, 1982), pp. 116–17. And the timing is right: Joyce’s attempts at musical composition, of which mainly echoes and fragments have come down to us, plausibly tie in with his preparation for a singing career, on which he was seriously bent precisely during the last span of his mother’s life and the ensuing year of mourning.

6 For a photo-offprint reproduction of the copy-book, see The James Joyce Archive, vol. 7 (New York and London: Garland, 1978), pp. 70–94; a transcription of the text only of ‘A Portrait of the Artist’ is incorporated in James Joyce, Poems and Shorter Writings, ed. by R. Ellmann, A. W. Litz and J. Whittier-Ferguson (London: Faber & Faber, 1991), pp. 211–18.

7 I gratefully acknowledge that it was John O’Hanlon who alerted me to May Joyce’s letter of 1 September 1916 and began himself to consider its implications in private correspondence. Had the letter not been overlooked in all previous criticism and biography, we would long have lived with a different sense of Joyce’s emerging creativity, and of the structural lines in his early oeuvre.

8 Though what Stanislaus heard James read, or was given to read, of the beginning of Stephen Hero after the Dana rejection of ‘A Portrait of the Artist’, may well have been the first he was allowed to know of the emerging narrative; only their sister May, it seems, was let in on Jim’s secret writing experiments in the summer of 1903.

9 The autobiographical element was quite obvious. The chapters were sent piecemeal from Trieste to Stanislaus in Dublin as they were written, and Stanislaus gave them to chosen friends to read, who then discussed just how Joyce might be expected to introduce them into his text, or to handle touchy situations, such as the notorious quarrel with Gogarty and Trench at the Martello Tower in Sandycove. This scene, though eagerly awaited by everyone in 1905, was not, in fact, composed until some time between 1912 and 1917; and it provided, in the end, the opening for Ulysses.

10 Throughout this volume, the sigla ‘D-G’,P-G’ adapt by analogy the citation conventions for editions of Joyce’s text in the James Joyce Quarterly.

11 The editions of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners used for this essay are: James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Critical Edition), ed. by Hans Walter Gabler with Walter Hettche (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1993); identical in text and line numbering with: James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, ed. by Hans Walter Gabler with Walter Hettche (New York: Vintage Books, 1993; London: Vintage Books, 2012, also as e-book); and: James Joyce, Dubliners (Critical Edition), ed. by Hans Walter Gabler with Walter Hettche (New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1993); identical in text and line numbering with: James Joyce, Dubliners, ed. by Hans Walter Gabler with Walter Hettche (New York: Vintage Books, 1993; London: Vintage Books, 2012, also as e-book).

12 I expand and refine on this echo-chamber of names and literary genres in the following essay, ‘He chronicled with patience’.

13 Letter to Stanislaus Joyce, 12 July 1905 (Letters II, p. 92), accompanying the dispatch of the manuscript.

14 Hugh Kenner has frequently guided Joyce readers to multi-level readings of Joyce’s texts; see, for example, A Colder Eye (London: Penguin Books, 1983), esp. pp. 189–92; or Joyce’s Voices (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1978), pp. 80–81, and throughout. The notion of homeomorph narratives is developed in the first chapter of The Pound Era (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1971).

15 In what follows, my account of the intertexts for ‘The Dead’, as well as for A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, derives from the 2003 Munich Ph. D. dissertation by Dieter Fuchs, ‘Menippos in Dublin. Studien zu James Joyce und zur Form der Menippea’, published as Joyce und Menippos. ‘A Portrait of the Artist as an Old Dog’ (ZAA Monograph Series 2) (Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2006). Fuchs sees Joyce’s writing from ‘The Dead’ onward as an archaeology and a rediscovery of Menippean and symposiastic narrative ontologies in the Western tradition, harking back to antiquity and pre-Christian philosophical and literary modes that were buried during the Christian era. In the course of his analysis, he identifies intertexts from antiquity for ‘The Dead’ and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man that already have the type of functional relationship to these works that Homer’s Odyssey has to Ulysses. These are important discoveries that I incorporate in my argument.

16 The term ‘intertext’ of critical convention that I have resorted to here I have reconceptualised as ‘perception text’ in the subsequent essay, to suggest James Joyce’s encompassing perception of reality and texts as transformable creatively afresh into text.

17 The study from which above all the readings of Joyce’s ironies emanated was Hugh Kenner, Dublin’s Joyce (London: Chatto and Windus, 1955).

18 Dieter Fuchs, at this point, goes on to argue that Joyce is here actually hinting at the literary archaeology he is embarking upon, which in this case would be aimed specifically at unearthing the lowly genre of Menippean satire.

19 The device was one of considerable originality in literature at the onset of the twentieth century, even though, through parallel developments, it was to become an important element, generally, in the formalist ethos of European modernism in literature, music and pictorial art; in the case of James Joyce, it was also modelled on the typological patterning of exegesis and thought he had found in medieval theology.

20 Joseph Prescott, ed., ‘Conversations with James Joyce [by] Georges Borach’, College English, 15 (1954), 325–27.

21 Though when it comes to Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses, Joyce does not spurn the younger tradition; but it is characteristic also that Hamlet is a key reference text for Stephen (who knows, moreover, that he is Hamlet), yet not for Bloom.

22 The title considerably predated the work we know under the name: ‘Ulysses’ was originally the title for a story projected but never written for Dubliners.

23 What is also important to note is that, as Kevin Barry emphasises, the occasional writings from James Joyce the journalist and public speaker during his Triestine years, ‘are a part of a process by which Joyce transforms himself between 1907 and 1914 into a comic writer. […] Thereafter he writes in that mode which his aesthetics since 1903 had recommended as the higher mode of art: the comic.’ James Joyce, Occasional, Critical, and Political Writing, ed. by Kevin Barry (Oxford World’s Classics) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000); ‘Introduction’, p. xxii. See also the essay ‘James Joyce Interpreneur’ below, originally a contribution to Genetic Joyce Studies, 4 (Spring 2004),

24 Meaning not a blot in the loose-leaf lots for chapters four and five that survive from that auto-da-fé. How chapters one and two looked, once out of the flames, we do not know. They were subsequently revised and recopied. An account of the incident was given by Joyce himself in a letter accompanying the gift of the final fair-copy manuscript of A Portrait to Harriet Weaver in 1920 (see Letters I, p. 136). Since that manuscript is extant and is now housed, as Harriet Weaver’s gift, at the National Library of Ireland, it has also been possible to deduce from it, together with the manuscript fragment of Stephen Hero in the possession of the Houghton Library at Harvard, what Joyce himself does not reveal, nor any eyewitness has recorded, about the 1911 crisis in the writing of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. My own previous in-depth investigations of the genesis of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man have been ‘The Seven Lost Years of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’, in Approaches to Joyce’s Portrait, ed. by Bernard Benstock and Thomas F. Staley (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976), pp. 25–60, and ‘The Christmas Dinner Scene, Parnell’ s Death, and the Genesis of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’, James Joyce Quarterly, 13 (1976), 27–38; these two essays were republished together, with minor revisions, as ‘The Genesis of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’, in Critical Essays on James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, ed. by Philip Brady and James F. Carens (New York: G. K. Hall, 1998), pp. 83–112.

25 The most thorough analysis of the Stephen Hero manuscript in itself, and in its relationship to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, is Claus Melchior, ‘Stephen Hero. Textentstehung und Text. Eine Untersuchung der Kompositions-und Arbeitsweise des frühen James Joyce’, Ph. D. dissertation, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Bamberg, 1988.

26 Poems and Shorter Writings, p. 211.

27 Baroque altar-pieces are typically organised thus on a central axis of symmetry, as well as baroque musical compositions, such as Johann Sebastian Bach’s motet ‘Jesu meine Freude’, BWV 227.

28 For the Wagner and Meistersinger connections, see Timothy Martin, Joyce and Wagner. A Study of Influence (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), p. 230, note 76 et passim. If my speculation holds water, Die Meistersinger thus makes more than a ‘cameo appearance’ (cf. p. 230, note 80) in Joyce’s work. The link between the opera and the novel, once perceived, is suggestively reinforced through the distinct verbal and situational echoes. As Dieter Fuchs has pointed out to me in a private communication, Hans Sachs urges Walther Stolzing to put into a formal poem ‘what [he] has versified, what [he] has dreamt’ (‘Was Ihr gedichtet, was Ihr geträumt’). What the text of A Portrait knows about Stephen Dedalus is that ‘In a dream or vision he had known the ecstasy of seraphic life’ (P-G 5, 1535), and it is from this that he begins to compose his Villanelle, emulating the old masters of poetry and the intricate rules of their art.

29 It would also become seminal in the wider modernist context: Virginia Woolf, for instance, adopted it for Mrs. Dalloway.

30 Since this was written, there have been other speculations about what ‘a fourth chapter’ for the Telemachiad of Ulysses might have consisted of. This does not invalidate hypothesizing that the narrative core of ‘Scylla and Charybdis’ was material left over from the Portrait workshop.

31 ‘Each chapter closes with a synthesis of triumph which the next destroys.’ Thus, inimitably succinct, Hugh Kenner in Dublin’s Joyce, p. 129. See also Sidney Feshbach, ‘A Slow and Dark Birth: A Study of the Organization of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’, James Joyce Quarterly, 4 (1967), 289–300.

32 James Joyce, Stephen Hero, pp. 216; 218.

33 The surviving twenty-two epiphanies of the numbered sequence in Joyce’s own hand are reproduced in photo-offprint in The James Joyce Archive, vol. 7, pp. 1–44; the text of the extant total of forty epiphanies (of which eighteen have been preserved only because Stanislaus Joyce copied them) are reprinted in Poems and Shorter Writings, pp. 161–200.

34 I take a closer look in the subsequent essay, ‘He chronicled with patience’, specifically at the integrative role of the epiphany in Joyce’s early writing.

35 The title for the collection derives from the name ‘Giacomo Joyce’ inscribed in a child’s hand — eight-year-old Giorgio’s, perhaps, or even six-year-old Lucia’s? — on the inside cover of the notebook containing the segments fair-copied (around 1913) in James Joyce’s own most calligraphic script.

36 The text of the Dublin notebook segments is available at It is possible, however, to give an indication of their compass and sequence of assembly. The following is an index by line numbers of passages in the final text of the chapter to which they correspond: [1] (271–81); [2] (286–89); [3] (332–64); [4] (106–24); [5] (47–52); [6] (370–84); [7] (70–103); [8] (216–57); [9] (29–44); [10] (461–69); [11] (303–09); [12] (470–84); [13] (393; 488); [14] (393–98); [15] (312–30); [16] (406–19); [17] (209–15).

37 Interestingly, the earliest surviving manuscript (Buffalo V.A.8) for ‘Cyclops’ provides comparable evidence that the writing out of text passages — as sequences of dialogue in this case — preceded the overall structuring of the episode.

38 This is an idea I first put forward in ‘Narrative Rereadings: some remarks on “Proteus”, “Circe” and “Penelope”’, in James Joyce 1: ‘Scribble’ 1: genèse des textes, ed. by Claude Jacquet (Paris: Lettres Modernes, 1988), pp. 57–68. With the material evidence of the Dublin notebook, it is now possible to make a much more incisive critical assessment of the compositional development of the ‘Proteus’ chapter.

39 This, in a noticeably different ink, is the final entry in the notebook. As will be observed, it is a unit, reworked for Ulysses, from ‘Giacomo Joyce’: ‘The lady goes apace, apace, apace […]. Pure air on the upland road. Trieste is waking rawly: raw sunlight over its huddled browntiled roofs, testudoform; a multitude of prostrate bugs await a national deliverance. Belluomo rises from the bed of his wife’s lover’s wife: the busy housewife is astir, sloe-eyed, a saucer of acetic acid in her hand. […] Pure air and silence on the upland road: and hoofs. A girl on horseback. Hedda! Hedda Gabler!’(James Joyce, Giacomo Joyce, ed. by Richard Ellmann (London: Faber & Faber, 1968), p. 8)

40 The calculation is astonishingly accurate. In its final printed form, the episode runs to 505 lines; the Paris memories end with line 264. Subtracting from 505 lines the 28 lines of the chapter exposition leaves 477 lines, divisible into two halves of 238.5 lines. Letting the narrated chapter thus set in with the ‘midwives’ paragraph, we reach the proposed midpoint of the chapter after a stretch of 236 lines, leaving the second half-chapter no more than five lines longer.

41 Kingstown harbour was also where Parnell’s body was brought on 11 October 1891, a real event that Stephen dreams of in P-G 1, 700–15.

42 Identifying with figures from myth, history, or literature — Daedalus/Icarus, Parnell, Hamlet — persists as a character trait of Stephen Dedalus, at the same time as he is quite oblivious of being Telemachus, in accordance with Joyce’s new concept for Ulysses.


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