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.
- Full title:
- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses, by James Joyce; circa 1912-1921. Autograph fragment, with drafts of, and notes for, passages later incorporated in these works
- c. 1912–13; whole volume 1907–24
- Manuscript / Draft
- James Joyce, Harriet Shaw Weaver
- Usage terms
- Held by
- British Library
- Add MS 49975
- Article by:
- Katherine Mullin
- Literature 1900–1950, Capturing and creating the modern, Exploring identity
James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man follows the development of a young Catholic Irishman from early boyhood to young adulthood. Here Dr Katherine Mullin examines Joyce’s portrayal of artistic expression, sexual transgression, and the repressive forces of culture and church.
- Article by:
- Randall Stevenson
- Literature 1900–1950, Capturing and creating the modern, Power and conflict
Randall Stevenson describes how the violence and loss of the First World War affected modernist writers’ attitudes towards nature and time, as well as shaping their experiments with language, literary form and the representation of consciousness.
- Article by:
- David Bradshaw
- Literature 1900–1950
The writing and publication history of Ulysses was shaped by individuals and organisations trying to censor it, outraged by its explicit references to the human body and its iconoclasm. David Bradshaw describes the reactions to James Joyce's novel on both sides of the Atlantic, from its initial magazine serialisation in 1919 to the 1950s.
Related collection items
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a novel by the Irish modernist writer James Joyce. It follows the ...