WORK IN PROGRESS
WHEN Finnegans Wake first appeared in 1939 most readers familiar with Ulysses were confounded by what seemed to be a radical change in Joyce's style and technique. Superficially, the dense language of the Wake bore little resemblance to even the most complex sections of Ulysses. Only those who had studied the fragments of Joyce's Work in Progress published during the 1920.'s and 1930's1were prepared for the new language, realizing that it had developed gradually and inevitably out of the method of Ulysses. Today we are in a much better position to understand the affinities between Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, since the manuscript drafts and galley proofs of Joyce's last work provide complete and detailed evidence for every stage in the process of composition.2Using this material as a foundation, we shall attempt--in Henry James's words--'to remount the stream of composition' and trace the growth of Finnegans Wake.
Over a year passed after the publication of Ulysses before Joyce could muster the strength and determination to begin a new work. When the Wake was finally begun, in the spring of 1923, neither the structure nor the ultimate style of the book had been determined. Of course, Joyce had been preoccupied for years with many of the Wake's major themes and motifs. The philosophies of Giordano Bruno and Giambattista Vico, which support the Wake's structure, were familiar to Joyce from his early reading in Dublin and Trieste,3while some of the book's fundamental motifs (HCE's encounter with the Cad, the story of Buckley and the Russian General) belonged to the lore of the Joyce family.4