Vol. 8 No. 2 1941 - page 84

and myself to his home in the Square Robiac to listen to his reading
of the manuscript in question. We listened to the Waterloo scene,
which subsequently appeared in the first issue of the review. His
voice was resonantly musical, and at times a smile went over his
face, as he read a particularly exhilarating passage. After he had
finished, he said: "What do you think of it? Did you like it?" We
were all stirred by his verbal fantasy, excited, even, but puzzled.
It was not easy to reply with conventional phrases. There was no
precedent in literature for judging this fragment with its structure
of multiple planes and its novelty of a poly·synthetic language.
Some weeks later, he let me read the entire manuscript. It was not
more than 120 pages long, and had been written, he said, within a
few weeks during a stay on the Riviera in 1922. Yet it was already
complete in itself, organically compressed, containing the outline
of the entire saga. Even the title had been chosen, he indicated, hut
only he and Mrs. Joyce knew it. It was still a primitive version, to
which he had
begun to add numberless paragraphs,
phrases, words. In a moment of confidence he told me something
about the genesis of the idea. His admirer, Miss Harriet Weaver–
who, some years before, like a Maecenas of other days, made it
possible for the struggling writer to he freed of financial worry–
had asked him what book he was planning to write after
He replied that now that
was done he considered himself as
a man without a job. "I am like a tailor who would like to try his
hand at making a new·style suit," he continued. "Will you order
one?" Miss Weaver handed him a pamphlet written by a village
priest in England and giving a description of a giant's grave found
in the parish lot. "Why not try the story of this giant?" she asked
jokingly. The giant's narrative became the story of Finn McCool,
Finnegans Wake.
The first issues of
containing instalments from
what was then known as
oyce told me that this
provisional title was the invention of Ford Madox Ford who had
previously published a fragment
transatlantic review–
brought forth a fanfare of sensational outbursts. The confused
critics in France, England and America snorted, for the most part,
their violent disapproval. Miss Weaver herself regretfully wrote
Miss Beach she feared Joyce was wasting his genius; an opinion
which disturbed Joyce profoundly, for, after all, it was for her that
the "tailor" was working. His friend Larbaud said he regarded
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