Lot #501
James Joyce Autograph Letter Signed

James Joyce edits Finnegans Wake in a handwritten letter filled with his iconic prose
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Estimate: $16000+


James Joyce edits Finnegans Wake in a handwritten letter filled with his iconic prose

Rare and extraordinary ALS, one page, 4.5 x 6, 2 Square Robiac letterhead, May 18, 1926. Handwritten letter to Lily Bollach, a typist working on the manuscript of Joyce's famed 'Work in Progress,' which would become Finnegans Wake; these changes relate to Book III, Chapter 3. In full: "It is all my fault for copying out of an earlier version. I am sorry to have put you to unnecessary trouble. Please read 'noblesse of leechers at this Saxontannery etc' and later 'during alleged recent act of our chief magistrades as required by statues' for 'Mockmacmahonson' in the other place read 'Mockmacmahonitch' and after the words 'man in the coombe' insert 'Fauxfitzhuorson.' The verse begins correctly as you say 'Day shirker.' With many apologies and kind regards." Addressed on the reverse in Joyce's hand. In fine condition, with old tape stains along the top and bottom edges.

Filled with experimental language like that seen here, James Joyce began his masterwork, Finnegans Wake, as a 'Work in Progress' in 1923. Fragments appeared in literary journals over the course of 17 years, before the completed novel was finally published in May 1939. Joyce corrects a draft of the manuscript in this remarkable letter, writing out ideal examples of the stylish, idiosyncratic language that characterizes the work. Very few Joyce letters offer such distinct examples of his inimitable prose.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Fine Autograph and Artifacts, Ft. Art and Literature
  • Dates: #610 - Ended June 16, 2021

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