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Mamalujo: Finnegans Wake as a Work in Progress

The first extract of what was to become Finnegans Wake (1939) was published in April 1924 in the short-lived journal The Transatlantic Review, edited by Ford Madox Ford. This was a version of what is now Part II, Chapter 4 of the book, pages 383-399. It deal with “Mamalujo” (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), the four evangelists, old men who are historians, like the Four Masters, and chroniclers. They are also the four provinces of Ireland. They are tired, ancient, jealous of the young, and also very boring in their rambling recollections of the past. (Some would say that Joyce was rather too successful in conveying the boring quality of their discourse.)

Joyce was determined not to give the book’s title away until the very last minute, so Ford gave the passage the name “Extract from A Work in Progress.” Joyce liked the term, and it became the working title for the book during the many subsequent years before it finally appeared. Most of Finnegans Wake had already appeared in print by the time it was published in book form in 1939 by Faber & Faber. Most of the earlier parts of the work had been published in installments, either in magazines or as short books or pamphlets. This practice began quite early on in the book’s writing. Joyce had apparently originally been averse to it, but it must have been fairly clear that so long a span of time – some 17 years – could not be allowed to pass without some passages from the work appearing in print.

Mamalujo: Finnegans Wake as a Work in Progress is a collection of the various installments in honour of the 100th anniversary of the first one. Displayed in the gorgeous Maginni Room, visitors will get to see first-hand how Work in Progress evolved. Its staggered publication throughout the 1920s and 1930s are laid bare in a series of original copies of journals, pamphlets, and booklets. From the first “Mamlujo” episode of 1924 to “A Phoenix Park Nocturne” in 1938, the exhibition has an array of rare texts and illustrations. Included are reactions to Work in Progress, such as Our Exagmination Round His Incamination of Work in Progress (1929), illustrations by Joyce’s daughter Lucia and Stella Steyn, a signed copy by Joyce of Anna Livia Plurabelle (1929), and items from the Frank Budgen Collection. This is an extraordinary opportunity to learn about the public publication and private development of Joyce’s last novel.

The James Joyce Centre to thank Terence Killeen for his kind assistance to the exhibition.

Image: From the cover of The Mime of Mick, Nick and the Maggies (1934), a fragment of Work in Progress. Cover illustration by Lucia Joyce.

Tickets are €7 general, €5 concession. The exhibition is included in admission to the James Joyce Centre.

  • 28 May, 2024 - 16 June, 2024
10:30 am4:30 pm

€7 general, €5 concession. The exhibition is included in admission to the James Joyce Centre.

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