From charlesreid1

Majority of these notes are based on James Joyce: The Lost Notebook. That book covers the first of a series of notebooks that Joyce used to keep notes while writing Ulysses.

(They utilized the Critical and Synoptic Edition of Ulysses (1984), ed. Gabler.)

Ulysses in Progress

Much critical attention has been brought to focus on the manifest change which affected the nature of Ulysses quite late in the course of its development; a change whereby Joyce phased out the so-called 'initial style' (whose best-known feature is the famous interior monologue of both Stephen and Bloom) and introduced in its stead the exploitation of 'style' itself as an integral part of the narrative strategy: in other words, when the information was carried not in the content alone, but also in the form.

Groden Transitional Concept

Groden (1977) introduced the idea of a transitional middle period (by chance, coinciding with the "middle period" of the book, Ulysses/Wandering Rocks through Ulysses/Oxen of the Sun. These intermediate the extremes of the "initial" and "final" styles.

In this sense, Ulysses becomes a mosaic of the changes it underwent from 1914 to 1922.

Groden's idea is to divide Ulysses into three phases:

  • First: 1914 to end of 1918
  • Second: 1919 to mid -1920
  • Third: mid-1920 to 1922

Zurich Transformation

There is another, equally turning point in the genesis of Ulysses - one that is readily discernible in the published text - namely, at some point while writing Ulysses, Joyce was no longer writing Ulysses to be a sequel to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

This was when Joyce introduced a more grounded, more down-to-earth, less intellectual and abstract character - Leopold Bloom. The change was less a stylistic change, and more a worldview change - from intense, serious, anxious, to resigned, comic, affectionate.

During the 7 years he was composing Ulysses (1914 to 1922), this change coincided with Joyce being in Zürich in 1917.

Important Events in the History of Ulysses

(Most of this provides a justification for why everything changed for Joyce in 1917)


  • Joyce, living in Rome, entertains notion of writing a short story to be called "Ulysses"
  • The story is based on an incident when a putative Dublin Jew (Alfred Hunter) had picked him up inebriated out of a gutter somewhere in the metropolis
  • in orthodox Samaritan fashion, he had taken Joyce home with him and generally bucked him up with a restorative cup of cocoa or something


  • Joyce began writing Ulysses as a "sequel" to Portrait
  • Tenuous connection to the Odyssey - Stephen acts out an intellectual Telemachus, his mother plays a not very convincing Penelope, Mulligan and Haines the baleful suitors
  • Martello Tower becomes Ithaca
  • Joyce was experimenting with a lukewarm correspondence with the Homeric prototype, different from the final shape (which was dominated by it)
  • Joyce had not decided what to do with the Hunter character, what to make of him
  • Vague idea to have him rescue Stephen from predations of usurpers, restore him as prince
  • This concept of Ulysses as Portrait sequel was consistent with how Joyce described the work in letters from 1915

October 1916:

  • Joyce had written versions of Telemachus, Nestor, Proteus, Hamlet (Scylla and Charybdis), Eumaeus (brief sketch) - the Stephen-oriented episodes
  • "As he wrote principally out of his own character and experience, he had, in short, to invent himself anew."
  • Around this time he had what his physician described as a nervous breakdown
  • He embarked on a course of research - starting with the Greek language
  • compiling loose sheets, small notebooks, with lists of words/short sentences
  • transcribed bits and pieces from newspaper reports, simple business letters, examined aspects of grammar,
  • (was this how he taught English to students?)
  • latest entry is dated April 1917
  • the Greek is modern, but clear that intent was to facilitate study of the Odyssey
  • transliterate Homeric quotations, ideas about mistranslations

April 1917

  • Anonymous benefactor, paying 50 pounds quarterly, (ended up being Harriet Waver)
  • impeccable timing - cash in his pocket, assurance of more, freedom transformed him
  • "Much of what we have come to know and love about Ulysses, we contend, has its source in that happy event."
  • Joyce's change in circumstances, coupled with realization through his studies that Homeric myths could lbe viewed as concerning real men in real times
  • Joyce prepared to reconstruct the real Dublin on a real day - Thursday, 16 June 1904
  • For this purpose, he began to assemble specific material about that day and about the everyday language spoken on the street at that time
  • In contrast to Stephen, who lives in melancholy limbo, Joyce wanted to create a world for Leopold Bloom to live in

Fragments for Proteus

It is of interest to record here that Joyce went to Marsh's Library in Dublin on the 22nd and 23rd October, 1902,shortly before departing for the libraries and the cheaper eating-places of Paris, and that he signed his name in the visitor's book (McCarthy, 1980). The particular scholastic tome which he fingerpondered is still there today; it is part of the Bouhéreau Collection and boasts the sesquipedalian title of Vaticinia, sine Prophetiae Abbatis Joachimi & Anselmi Episcopi Marsicani, cum adnotationibus Paschalini Regiselmi, Latine et Italice, printed in Venice in 1589.

That is, Stephen Hero was to terminate on 8th October, 1904: the day he quit Ireland, essentially for good. This day was supereminently important to Joyce. In a letter written to Stanislaus (Letters, II, 176) he described it as "the day of my espousals and.. the day of the gladness of my heart."

In 1904 on October 11, also at dawn (in real life), James Joyce and Nora Barnacle arrived at Zürich at the Gasthaus Hoffnung. Let us then christen October 8 Stephensday. On Stephensday, Stephen was shoved into the square ditch, Joyce and Nora crossed over the Irish Sea, and (in an impossibilised version of Ulysses) Stephen fell or was pushed into a gutter. Perhaps, perhaps too (are numbers charms?), therei s an echo of those earlier arrivals/revivals in Bloom's vision at the propitious moment of little Rudy, who lived 11 days, in fancy aged 11 years.

Fitzgerald was not,historically, a pretender in the sense that these three gentlemen were. In February 1534 he was appointed Deputy-Governor of Ireland on the occasion of his father's last and ill-fated journey to England. Early in June of that year a mendacious rumor was bruited in Ireland that Thomas's father had been summarily executed in the Tower of London. On hearing of this, the indignant son, temporarily dispossessed of his reason, energetically entered the chamber at a meeting of the Council in St Mary's Abbey on St Barnaby's day (June 11); divested himself of his robes of office; cast down the sword of state upon the council table; and forcibly renounced his allegiance to the English King. This rash gesture of defiance, like Stephen's shattering of the lamp in 'Circe' and his trenchant remarks to the two redcoats, led by way of Irish history to his downfall.

Bloom's Dates

The year of Bloom's birth (1866) is first referred to directly in the text in Lotus Eaters 198-99: 'Year before I was born that was: sixtyfive'.

A significantly earlier, though oblique, reference (also in the Rosenbach faircopy and dated December 1917) occurs in Nestor 300-04: 'Framed around the walls images of vanished horses stood in homage, their meek heads poised in air: lord Hastings' Repulse, the duke of Westminster's Shotover, the duke of Beaufort's Ceylon, prix de Paris, 1866. Elfin riders sat them, watchful of a sign'

Watchful of signs, we can note that Ceylon won the prix de Paris at Longchamps on Sunday, 27th May, 1866 - a somewhat more mundane phenomenon than that of the star of second magnitude which appeared in and disappeared from the constellation of the Corona Septentrionalis "about the period of the birth of Leopold Bloom" (see Ithaca 1125). A few weeks earlier, on Thursday, 19th April, 1866, Repulse had won the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. To complete the picture, Shotover won both the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Derby at Epsom, on 26th April and 24th May, 1882, respectively, in the signal birthyear of Stephen Dedalus. That last-named young man's weak eyes would not have noticed it, but it is likely that the same elfin rider, in different colours... sat all three horses; for all four victories were due to the same jockey: Tom Cannon (1846-1917).

Deconstructing Bloomsday

See Ulysses/Motifs/Newspapers

Eloquence and Loquacity of Hoi Polloi

To replicate the slang of 1904 Dublin, Joyce probably used a few resources:

  • P. W. Joyce's English As We Speak It In Ireland (1910)
  • Baumann's Londinismen
  • Ware's Passing English of the Victorian Era

Brief Lexicon of Slang from Londinismen

(Joyce primarily used entries from the back of Baumann's tome)

Brief Lexicon of Slang from Passing English