Written on five sheets of paper in James Joyce’s own hand, this rare manuscript fragment contains three draft passages for the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Estimated to date from c. 1912–13, late into the composition of Portrait, the fragment shows us the evolving, interconnected design of both Portrait and Joyce’s second novel, Ulysses. It is likely that Joyce allowed the wide margin on the left-hand side of each sheet for corrections.
The first sheet (f. 1r) contains the end of the tense Christmas dinner scene held at the Dedalus’s home. Except for minor changes to punctuation, it appears almost exactly in this form in Chapter One of the published Portrait (completed in 1914 and serialised 1914–15). It is not known how the sheet became separated, but research has uncovered that it is page 83 of the Portrait manuscript given to the National Library of Ireland by Harriet Shaw Weaver in 1951.
What does the fragment reveal about Ulysses?
In contrast to the first sheet, Joyce largely discarded the second and third passages (f. 2r and ff. 3r–5r) for Portrait. They reveal, however, that Joyce was developing Ulysses as he completed Portrait. When work began on Ulysses in 1914, Joyce incorporated aspects of the Portrait draft into the new novel.
The third passage, for example, alludes to the Martello tower – ‘Dedalus, we must retire to the tower, you and I’ – which becomes the setting for Ulysses’s opening episode. The mocking, blaspheming character of Doherty appears as a rudimentary version of Buck Mulligan, who was based on Joyce’s friend Oliver St John Gogarty. Here, the description of Doherty’s physical appearance – his face ‘equine and pallid’, his hair ‘grained and hued like oak’ – is almost identical to the description in Ulysses of Mulligan’s face as ‘equine in its length’ with hair ‘grained and hued like pale oak’. We also see the rudiments of the stream of consciousness technique that Joyce pioneers in Ulysses. After recalling Doherty ‘standing on the steps of his house the night before’, Doherty’s conversation flows through Stephen’s mind.
In spite of these similarities, the published versions of Portrait and Ulysses reveal how Joyce significantly revised this draft. In Portrait and Ulysses Joyce alters narrative voice, condenses scenes and shifts their context to develop flow and an aloof tone. Notably, this draft version of the Dedalus’s breakfast scene plays out in the present tense, described by an objective third person narrator. In Ulysses the scene is transformed with free indirect discourse into a memory running through Stephen’s mind. In Portrait Stephen briefly alludes to the argument as ‘an unpleasant quarrel’ with his mother about religion. In Ulysses the argument appears more fully, but Joyce omits the draft’s fuller account of the noises and faces that intrude from the yard. Narrative voice is subtly shifted, cutting out direct speech: the draft, ‘If you had not lost your faith – said Stephen – you would burn me along with the books –’, becomes, in Ulysses, ‘– If you were a genuine Roman Catholic, mother, you would burn me as well as the books’.
How did the fragment end up at the Library?
The fragment was given to Harriet Shaw Weaver, Joyce’s patron and later his literary executor, in May 1949 by Sylvia Beach. Weaver presented the manuscript to the British Museum Library in May 1952. It was presented together with note-sheets for Ulysses dating c. 1919–21, which feature words, phrases and short passages mostly scored through by Joyce in red, blue and green pencil after they were incorporated into the last seven episodes of Ulysses.