Genetic Joyce Studies - Issue 8 (Spring 2008)
“This diverting chase of the presumable”: procedures of rewriting in the dossier of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Ilaria Natali
University of Florence

James Joyce worked on his first novel for about 12 to 14 years: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published in 1914-5, whilst the earlier documents of the dossier date back to the years 1900-1902. The analysis of this long creative process not only reveals how Portrait was conceived and transformed, but also shows Joyce’s evolution as a writer, from the first tokens of his creative activity.[1]

The temporal extension of the elaboration of Portrait is only one of the interesting aspects of the documentation. In some moments of the writing process, Joyce seemed to have arrived at a conclusive phase of writing; then, because of an editor’s rejection, or of a sudden dissatisfaction with the work, he abandoned the idea of publication and completely revised the material in new drafts. The published text of Portrait is not the result of a linear compositional course: it originates from a process dotted by impasses, junctions and mutations in the function of the texts.

In the Portrait dossier, a new creative process is often embedded in an interrupted one: Epiphanies was never published, but became one of the sources for Stephen Hero and Portrait; “A Portrait of the Artist” was rejected by the editors of the Irish periodical Dana and afterwards reworked into Stephen Hero, while the composition of Stephen Hero itself was probably abandoned around 1905-6, and parts of the novel were re-employed in Portrait.

Texts that Joyce considered independent, if not ready for publication, changed their function and converged in later textualizations. These changes in the function of the texts can be seen from a twofold perspective: the writing process undergoes a fracture, but at the same time its continuity is preserved. Such apparent contradiction makes sense in the light of the aporia between the synchronic and diachronic dimensions of writing which characterizes the genetic approach. At single structure level, Epiphanies, “A Portrait of the Artist” and Stephen Hero represent compositional or even pre-publication material. From a diachronic perspective, at the level of the entire Joycean compositional macrotext, they acquire a pre-compositional function since they were used as annotations and partially re-employed in subsequent drafts.

What I intend to underline in this study are the modalities of rewriting Joyce adopted when the compositional process came to a point of fracture. With this object in mind, I would like to focus only on three texts of the Portrait dossier, Epiphanies, “A Portrait of the Artist” and Stephen Hero, discussing the procedures which characterize their re-elaboration.[2]


1. Epiphanies


Twenty-two of the extant epiphanies[3] appear, modified, in Stephen Hero and Portrait; Epiphanies represents, therefore, an important source for the elaboration of both novels[4] and acquires the function of pre-compositional material in the creative process of Portrait.[5]

The external documentation suggests that, at first, the epiphanies were not intended to be included in other works:[6] in addition to sending some sketches to George Russell in 1902, Joyce had also asked W. B. Yeats to read Epiphanies (see Ellmann 102). It seems implausible that some annotations could have had so much importance for Joyce that he showed them to other artists. Until 1902, Epiphanies must have represented an independent and complete work for Joyce; then, the function of the sketches probably underwent a mutation and the epiphanies were re-employed as pre-compositional material for later writings.

Thirteen of the extant epiphanies appear in the available chapters of Stephen Hero, where they are often extensively modified.[7] The collation between Epiphanies and Stephen Hero reveals that textual increase assumes a key function in the process of re-writing. Joyce generally ‘expands’ the epiphany with additional textual portions, which provide relevant supplementary information. Textual increase is part of a wider phenomenon: in Stephen Hero, the form of the dramatic epiphany is adapted to that of the novel. Both textual increase and formal adaptation can be best exemplified through the process of transformation of the epiphany Buffalo I.A.45 in Stephen Hero:

Epiphany Buffalo I.A.45

Stephen Hero (SH 169)


[Dublin: in the National Library]


Skeffington - I was sorry to hear of the death of your brother… sorry we didn't know in time… to have been at the funeral

Joyce - O, he was very young… a boy…

Skeffington - Still… it hurts…

(Buffalo I.A.45)


[McCann] shook hands briskly with Stephen:

- I was sorry to hear of the death of your sister.... sorry we didn't know in time.... to have been at the funeral.

Stephen released his hand gradually and said: - O, she was very young.... a girl.

McCann released his hand at the same rate of release, and said:

- Still.... it hurts.

The acme of unconvincingness seemed to Stephen to have been reached at that moment.

The characters’ names are changed: “Skeffington” and “Joyce” become “McCann” and “Stephen” in the novel. Furthermore, the death of a brother in I.A.45 is modified into the death of a sister in Stephen Hero. The formal features of the dramatic epiphany are transformed: in Stephen Hero, for example, Joyce omits the ‘stage indications’. Nonetheless, the most significant modification seems to be the introduction of a narrator in Stephen Hero: a tranche de vie, or pseudo-dramatic text becomes a fictional construction.

In Buffalo I.A.45, the conversation is ‘recorded’ in an apparently objective way: in Stephen Hero it is introduced by the narrator, who adds further explanations. The narrator’s voice in Stephen Hero has an explicative function: it provides new information and clarifies the meaning that the dialogue assumes in the novel.[8] Thus, while the sketch is ambiguous and open to different interpretations, its rewriting acquires a precise meaning in Stephen Hero. For example, the clarifying textual portion “[t]he acme of unconvincingness seemed to Stephen to have been reached at that moment” reveals that the episode had an emotional impact on the protagonist: he perceived his friend’s hypocrisy in the use of conventional language. The epiphany as such disappears in Stephen Hero: the literary devices are changed and the sketch loses its ‘evanescence’.

The explicative function of the narrator in Stephen Hero concerns the re-elaboration of both dramatic and narrative sketches. It is particularly evident in the modification of Buffalo I.A.12 (SH 251), I.A.14 (SH 46), I.A.16 (SH 43), I.A.21 (SH 45), I.A.42 (SH 163) and I.A.45-6 (SH 165). We can assume, therefore, that the rewriting process of Epiphanies in Stephen Hero is characterized not only by a tendency to textual expansion, but also by a transformation in the nature of the epiphany. In Stephen Hero, the narrator’s voice deprives the epiphany of its formal characteristics and of its ambiguity, transforming it into a piece of narrative: the text might still point to some kind of revelation, but it loses any epiphanic value.[9]

In Portrait, where eleven of the extant epiphanies appear re-elaborated, the epiphanic text undergoes different procedures of modification.[10] The available documentation shows that two opposite tendencies characterize the process of rewriting of Epiphanies in Portrait. The sketches are modified through both increment and elimination: if, in some cases, additional textual portions clarify the meaning of the epiphany, in other cases procedures of textual decrement make the sketches more implicit and ambiguous. The re-elaboration of Buffalo I.A.1 in Portrait presents exemplary cases of suppression:

Epiphany Buffalo I.A.1

Portrait  (P 4)

[Bray: in the parlour of the house in Martello Terrace] Mr Vance - (comes in with a stick)…O, you know, he'll have to apologise, Mrs Joyce. Mrs Joyce - O yes … Do you hear that, Jim? Mr Vance - Or else - if he doesn't - the eagles'll come and pull out his eyes. Mrs Joyce - O, but I'm sure he will apologise. Joyce - (under the table, to himself) - Pull out his eyes, Apologise, Apologise,Pull out his eyes. Apologise, Pull out his eyes, Pull out his eyes, Apologise.


He hid under the table. His mother said:

- O, Stephen will apologise.

Dante said:

- O, if not, the eagles will come and pull out his eyes.

Pull out his eyes,



Pull out his eyes.


Pull out his eyes,

Pull out his eyes,



Epiphany Buffalo I.A.1 undergoes several phenomena of decrease which emphasize the ambiguity of the text. For instance, any reference to the fact that the protagonist is repeating the formula “to himself” is eliminated. In Portrait, the chiasmic chant is reported but not explicitly attributed to Stephen, who might be listening to it.

The transformation of the dramatic epiphany into a narrative text is at the basis of the phenomena of elimination. In Portrait the narrator rarely has an explicative function, since events are ‘filtered’ through Stephen’s perspective. The text reproduces the protagonist’s mental-cognitive processes and emotions without introductions, or explanations: the information is restricted to the character’s field of perception.

The procedures of textual increase which characterize the re-elaboration of Epiphanies into Portrait include both amplifications and additions. Amplifications determine an expansion of themes and images that were already present in the epiphany; additions, instead, provide the reader with new information and often clarify the texts. Re-elaboration of the sketches in Cornell 17.57-58 and 17.56-57 exemplifies these transformational phenomena:

Epiphany Cornell 17.57-58

Portrait (P 148-9)

 A small field of still weeds and thistles alive with confused forms, half-men, half-goats. Dragging their great tails they move hither and thither, aggressively.Their faces are lightly bearded, pointed and grey as india-rubber. A secret personal sin directs them, holding them now, as in reaction, to constant malevolence. One is clasping about his body a torn flannel jacket; another complains monotonously as his beard catches in the stiff weeds. They move about me, enclosing me, that old sin sharpening their eyes to cruelty, swishing through the fields in slow circles, thrusting upwards their terrific faces.Help! 


Creatures were in the field: one, three, six: creatures were moving in the field, hither and thither. Goatish creatures with human faces, hornybrowed, lightly bearded and grey as indiarubber. The malice of evil glittered in their hard eyes, as they moved hither and thither, trailing their long tails behind them. A rictus of cruel malignity lit up greyly their old bony faces. One was clasping about his ribs a torn flannel waistcoat, another complained monotonously as his beard stuck in the tufted weeds. Soft language issued from their spittleless lips as they swished in slow circles round and round the field, winding hither and thither through the weeds, dragging their long tails amid the rattling canisters. They moved in slow circles, circling closer and closer to enclose, to enclose, soft language issuing from their lips, their long swishing tails besmeared with stale shite, thrusting upwards their terrific faces... Help!


Epiphany Cornell 17.56-57

Portrait (P 272)

 A long curving gallery: from the floor arise pillars of dark vapours. It is peopled by the images of fabulous kings, set in stone. Their hands are folded upon their knees, in token of weariness, and their eyes are darkened for the errors of men go up before them for ever as dark vapours.


A troubled night of dreams. Want to get them off my chest. A long curving gallery. From the floor ascend pillars of dark vapours. It is peopled by the images of fabulous kings, set in stone. Their hands are folded upon their knees in token of weariness and their eyes are darkened for the errors of men go up before them for ever as dark vapours.

The process of re-writing of epiphany Cornell 17.57-58 in Portrait is characterized by the introduction of descriptive details, which enrich and further develop the imagery, but do not explicitly clarify its oneiric nature. In the re-elaboration of Cornell 17.56-57, instead, addition of the textual portion “a troubled night of dreams” (P 272) specifies that the subsequent description concerns nocturnal visions. The sense that the epiphany acquires in Portrait is therefore made explicit.

Re-elaboration of the sketches in Portrait includes two procedures of amplification: epiphany Cornell 17.57-58 and Cornell 17.44 (“The children who have stayed last”). Apart from Cornell 17.56-57, phenomena of addition concern only Cornell 17.56 (“High up in the old, dark-windowed house”). Textual decrement occurs in six re-elaborations: it can be observed in the re-writing of Cornell 17.1, 41, 45, 53, 61-62 and 65. To sum up, while addition of clarifying textual portions characterizes the re-writing process of Epiphanies in Stephen Hero, in Portrait the main tendency consists of introducing further elements of ambiguity in the epiphanies.


2. “A Portrait of the Artist”


In 1904, when Joyce proposed “A Portrait of the Artist” to the editors of Dana, Magee refused the publication, as he considered the text “incomprehensible” (see Scholes & Kain 56).[11] After Magee’s rejection, Joyce re-employed “A Portrait of the Artist” as pre-compositional material for subsequent drafts; the short story[12] became one of the sources for the composition of Stephen Hero. The document changed its function, from publication-ready text to pre-compositional material.

Evidence of the change in function of “A Portrait of the Artist” is conspicuous in manuscript Buffalo II.A.1-15, which presents at least two main stages of revision. These two phases can be defined as “internal” and “external”. Internal changes are aimed at modifying the text of the short story and include twelve interventions: seven substitutions (II.A.5, 13, 14), three additions (II.A.10, 12, 13) and one elimination (II.A.2). External elaboration presents more complex textual phenomena, and opens the way to various conjectures regarding the writing process. Similarly to the dossiers of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, where the annotations are marked with different coloured lines, in the manuscript of “A Portrait of the Artist” Joyce crossed out extensive textual portions. Such cancellations do not modify the text of the short story: they indicate that Joyce had reworked, or intended to rework selected textual segments, probably in Stephen Hero. Manuscript Buffalo II.A presents two different signs of external revision: straight horizontal lines and diagonal lines.

a)             Straight horizontal lines.

Extensive sections of “A Portrait of the Artist” are crossed out with horizontal lines drawn on each line of writing: sheets II.A.2-5 are almost completely deleted in this way, as well as part of sheets 6, 10 and 14. Most of the text thus cancelled is re-employed in the extant chapters of Stephen Hero. In the re-writing process, the textual portions of “A Portrait of the Artist” are preserved verbatim, or appear only slightly modified; only the passages crossed out on pages 10 and 14 do not find any correspondence in the available parts of the novel.

The textual collation reveals that the revision process of “A Portrait of the Artist” in Stephen Hero is mainly characterized by phenomena of dislocation, which concern both macro- and micro-modifications. The cancelled sections of “A Portrait of the Artist” are subdivided into smaller textual portions and dislocated into various chapters of Stephen Hero: the text of the short story literally ‘explodes’ into different parts of the novel. For example, the crossed-out text in Buffalo II.A.2 is re-employed in chapters XXI (SH 156), XVIII (SH 69), XXII (SH 177) and XV (SH 27) of Stephen Hero; the textual portions in II.A.3 are reworked in various parts of chapter XV (SH 30, 34-5). Other crossed-out textual portions in II.A.4 appear re-elaborated in three different parts of the novel, precisely in chapters XVI (SH 35), XVII (SH 53) and XXII (SH 173). The text marked in II.A.5 and 6 is dislocated in chapters XV (SH 29), XXIII (SH 193-4) and XX (SH 138) of Stephen Hero. Only a textual segment cancelled in II.A.4 (“These young men […] English liberalism”) appears an exception to the common procedure of re-elaboration: it is not fragmented, but re-employed with minor changes in chapter XXII of Stephen Hero (SH 172-3).

These procedures of modification show that the cancelled text in Buffalo II.A.1-15 mainly converges in the extant section of Stephen Hero, precisely in chapters XV-XXV. In fact, only the textual portions deleted in II.A.10 and II.A.14 do not appear in the available part of the novel and might therefore have been reworked in other chapters.[13] It is possible to assume that Joyce decided to re-employ parts of “A Portrait of the Artist” in the novel according to criteria of thematic and structural analogy: chapters XV-XXV of Stephen Hero, as well as Buffalo II.A.2-14, describe the university years of a protagonist.

Only one passage concerning the pre-university period of the character in “A Portrait of the Artist” (II.A.1-2), the “Malahide episode”, appears re-worked in the extant part of Stephen Hero, chapter XXI:


He ran through his measure like a spendthrift s[?], astonishing many by ejaculatory [?]vours, offending many by airs of the cloister. One day in a wood near Malahide a labourer had marvelled to see a boy of fifteen praying in an ecstasy of Oriental posture. It was indeed a long time before this boy understood the nature of that most marketable goodness which makes it possible to give comfortable assent to propositions without ordering one's life in accordance with them. The digestive value of religion he never appreciated and he chose, as more fitting his case, those poorer humbler orders in which a confessor did not seem anxious to reveal himself, in theory at least, a man of the world. (II.A.2)


He thought of his own fervid religiousness spendthrift religiousness and airs of the cloister, he remembered having astonished a labourer in a wood near Malahide by an ecstasy of oriental posture and no more than half-conscious under the influence of her charm he wondered whether the God of the Roman Catholics would put him into hell because he had failed to understand that most marketable goodness which makes it possible to give comfortable assent to propositions without in the least ordering one’s life in accordance with them and had failed to appreciate the digestive value of the sacraments. (SH 156)


In “A Portrait of the Artist” this passage is part of a chronologically linear narration and describes one of the phases in the evolution of the character. In Stephen Hero, the text is transformed into Stephen’s memories: the protagonist intends to abandon the church and thinks back about his past as a believer. Therefore, the episode undergoes a modification at narrative level: in “A Portrait of the Artist” it is included in the chronological continuity of the narration, while in Stephen Hero it becomes an anachronism. This kind of ‘chronological’ transformation is common in the Portrait dossier and its occurrence becomes even more relevant in the rewriting process of Stephen Hero in Portrait.

b)           Diagonal lines.

In Buffalo II.A-8 and II.A-9, two slashes (“/”) demarcate a textual portion which does not appear in the available sections of Stephen Hero. The passage presents lexical relationships with Portrait, where it appears fragmentally revised in the fourth chapter (P 185-7). What seems particularly relevant is that this passage was not marked in the same way as the rest of the manuscript: different “codes” might bear different meanings.

Horizontal and diagonal lines could indicate, on the one hand, that Joyce re-read the textual portions at different times. This could suggest that “A Portrait of the Artist” was directly re-employed not only in Stephen Hero, but also in Portrait, at a later compositional phase. On the other hand, use of the slash might point to a different employment of the text in the subsequent textualization. Since Joyce re-elaborated most of the cancelled text of “A Portrait of the Artist” in chapters XV-XXV of Stephen Hero, he could have used a specific mark to identify a passage he intended to dislocate and re-employ in another section of the novel. This would explain why Buffalo II.A.8 and 9 do not appear in the extant part of Stephen Hero.

The possibility that chance played a role in the use of the different codes should not be undervalued: not all the textual fragments of “A Portrait of the Artist” which appear in Stephen Hero and Portrait, in fact, are deleted in Buffalo II.A.1-15. For example, an extensive unmarked passage in II.A.12 was apparently subdivided into two parts and re-elaborated in chapters XXII (SH 178) and XXI (SH 162) of Stephen Hero; other unmarked textual portions in II.A.6 (“Extravagance followed”) and II.A-8 (“Isolation […] is the first principle of artistic economy”) appear respectively in chapters XXII (SH 179) and XVI (SH 33). Furthermore, an unmarked segment in II.A.10.11, “an envoy from the fair courts of life”, appears in the fourth chapter of Portrait (P 187). Therefore, no systematic procedure in the ‘external’ phase of re-elaboration of the text can be identified.


3. Stephen Hero


            The extant text of Stephen Hero consists of twelve chapters (XIV-XXV), some of which are incomplete.[14]  It principally describes the University period of the protagonist and includes some of the episodes which are narrated in the last chapter of Portrait.

            Stanislaus testifies that by 2 February 1904 his brother had already conceived Stephen Hero (S. Joyce, 11-2). Joyce wrote more that 900 pages for the first 25 chapters of the text, which constituted only part of the novel: it seems that he was planning to compose a total of 63 chapters (SL 56). It is possible to assume that the composition of Stephen Hero was abandoned around 1905-6: the triestine letters indicate that Joyce felt “discontented with a great deal of [Stephen Hero]” (L II 71), although he was still working on it (L II 74, 75). In May 1905 Joyce not only expresses a similar discontent with the novel, but he also says that he has “changed the scope of the novel very much” and that he intends to “rewrite some of the beginning” (L II 90). Joyce might therefore have abandoned Stephen Hero in this period: the partial reworking of the novel could have led to a complete rewriting. What seems certain is that at a certain stage of re-elaboration, Stephen Hero became one of the main sources for the composition of Portrait.

            It should be noted that at the basis of the procedures of textual modification which characterise the rewriting of Stephen Hero in Portrait is a wide transformation, which concerns both stylistic and narratological aspects of the novels. For instance, the narrator of Stephen Hero is omniscient, while in Portrait focalization is internal: this implies that the events are presented through Stephen’s point of view and perception. The rewriting of Stephen Hero, therefore, is centred on a macro-modification of the enunciational perspective: all the procedures of textual modification, at any level, are involved in this macro-change.

            As is well known, decrement represents the prevalent phenomenon in the process of rewriting of Stephen Hero. This procedure can be associated to the main tendency in the modification of Epiphanies into Portrait: in both cases, the elimination of textual portions makes the published text more ambiguous than the preceding textualizations. Actually, as Prescott exemplifies through the episode of Davin and hockey (22-4; see SH 62; P 218-9), some passages of Portrait can be fully understood only in the light of Stephen Hero.

            If decrement plays an important role in the rewriting process, the importance of the opposite procedure, textual increment, should not be overlooked. Stephen Hero includes only part of the episodes described in the published text: at some compositional stage Joyce must have drafted – and added – new material, such as “Stephen’s diary” (P 170-276). For instance, according to Gabler, the “Villanelle” (P 242-3) might have been included in Portrait after the whole novel was written in fair copy (44). Unfortunately, only traces of intermediate textualizations between the two novels are documented: we can merely assume that procedures of textual increment and decrement coexisted, or probably alternated in the re-writing process.

            What seems particularly interesting is that textual portions of Stephen Hero appear modified in Portrait through complex compositional procedures: several phenomena of textual modification often characterize the same textual segment. In order to exemplify the most significant transformational procedures, I would like to briefly analyse and compare three passages from Stephen Hero and Portrait: I have indicated them as “Lynch’s description”, “Stephen’s Easter duty” and “Madden/Davin’s matriculation”.

            a. Lynch’s description

In Stephen Hero, minor characters are generally introduced by the narrator upon their first appearance: these descriptions literally explode into various sections of Portrait. In the published text, the peculiarities of each figure are not illustrated by the narrative voice, but are noticed by Stephen during various conversations, and therefore emerge fragmentarily throughout the narration.

In Stephen Hero, Lynch first appears in chapter XX, introduced by the narrator. Part of this description is eliminated in the following revisions, but some textual segments reappear scattered in the text of Portrait, with minor modifications:

Stephen Hero



[Lynch] was much esteemed by his colleagues because he had a deep bass voice […]

He always kept both his hands in his trousers' pockets when he walked and jutted out his chest in a manner which was intended as a criticism of life. […] It was possible to accuse his mouth of a Neronic tendency but he destroyed the illusion of imperialism by wearing his cap very far back from a shock forehead. (SH 136)


Lynch began to sing softly and solemnly in a deep bass voice: […](P 227)

Lynch […] rubbed both his hands over his groins but without taking them from his pockets. (P 222)

Lynch, for answer, straightened himself and thrust forward his chest.

- Lynch puts out his chest, said Stephen, as a criticism of life. (P 218)

The long slender flattened skull beneath the long pointed cap brought before Stephen's mind the image of a hooded reptile […] (P 223)

In Stephen Hero, the narrator illustrates some of Lynch’s peculiarities and typical behaviours, for example his habit of keeping “both his hands in his trousers’ pockets” (SH 136). The way he puts out his chest appears a “criticism of life” (ibid.) probably in the common opinion, or in Lynch’s. In the published text, Stephen notices similar postures in specific occasions (“[…] without taking [the hands] from his pockets”, P 222); the meaning associated with the movement of Lynch’s chest is Stephen’s interpretation, and is expressed in a dialogue. The substantial difference between the two texts lies precisely in the ‘objectivity’ of the external narrator in Stephen Hero in contrast to the subjectivity of Stephen’s perception in Portrait.

The description of Lynch in Stephen Hero is only one of the character introductions which ‘explode’ in various parts of Portrait: a similar procedure is adopted for the textual portions concerning Glynn (SH 118; P 255, 256) and Temple (SH 107; P 214, 248, 249). What seems even more relevant is that this pattern of modification reveals a continuity between the rewriting processes of “A Portrait of the Artist” and Stephen Hero. As we have seen, in the revision process of both works single passages crumble into many minor textual segments, then scatter into different contexts of the following textualization. This phenomenon, which I would define dissemination, represents a variation of the more general procedure of dislocation.

            b. Stephen’s Easter duty

In Portrait, Stephen explains to Cranly his attitude towards the Church and the Catholic faith and he mentions an argument he had with his mother (P 259-65). In Stephen Hero, the conversations Stephen has with Mrs. Daedalus and with Cranly represent two distinct passages of chapter XX. In the first passage of Stephen Hero, Stephen quarrels with his mother about his Easter duty. Part of their talk appears in Portrait, with some modifications:

Stephen Hero: conversation Stephen-Mrs Daedalus

Portrait: conversation Stephen-Cranly


His mother waited till the room was clear and then she said casually:

- You have not made your Easter duty yet, have you, Stephen?

Stephen answered that he had not. (SH 131)



- Cranly, I had an unpleasant quarrel this evening.

- With your people? Cranly asked.

- With my mother.

- About religion?

- Yes, Stephen answered. […] She wishes me to make my easter duty.

- And will you?

- I will not, Stephen said. (P 259-60)


- Stephen, said his mother, I'm afraid you have lost your faith.

- I’m afraid so too, said Stephen. (SH 131)

- I said that I had lost the faith, Stephen answered […] (P 265)


[Mrs. Daedalus] - Think of the beautiful teachings of Our Lord. Think of your own life when you believed in those teachings. Weren't you better and happier then?

[Stephen] - It was good for me at the time, perhaps, but it is quite useless for me now.

(SH 131)


[Cranly]- Did you believe in it when you were at school? I bet you did.

- I did, Stephen answered.

- And were you happier then? Cranly asked softly. Happier than you are now, for instance?

- Often happy, Stephen said, and often unhappy. I was someone else then. (P 261)

The dispute described in Stephen Hero is only briefly mentioned in Portrait, where it appears a narrative strategy to introduce the religious discussion between Stephen and Cranly. The protagonist refers to the dialogue with his mother, but he mainly recalls his own words (“I said that I had lost the faith”, P 265). In the published text, Mrs. Daedalus’ character appears obscured; no part of her speech is reported and Stephen only mentions the fact that “she wishes me to make my Easter duty” (P 260). Part of Mrs. Daedalus’ role in the conversation is instead assigned to Cranly (“And were you happier then?” P 261). My analysis of the two novels reveals that Mrs. Daedalus’ speeches in Stephen Hero are often uttered by Stephen’s friends and by the priests of Belvedere College in Portrait. In the published text, the religious discourse does not stem from one symbolic figure, but becomes widespread.

In Stephen Hero, after the argument with his mother, Stephen feels the need to speak to Cranly and express his frustration. Their dialogue is almost entirely re-elaborated in Portrait:

Stephen Hero: conversation Stephen-Cranly

Portrait: conversation Stephen-Cranly


[Cranly] - Would you make a sacrilegious communion? […] (SH 138)


- Do you fear then, Cranly asked, that the God of the Roman catholics would strike you dead and damn you if you made a sacrilegious communion? […] (P 264-5)



[Cranly]- Your mother will suffer very much […](SH 138)

[Cranly]- Your mother must have gone through a good deal of suffering […] (P 262)


[Cranly] - The Host for you is a piece of ordinary bread. […] Have you any reluctance to commit a sacrilege?

[Stephen] - […] It is not from fear that I refrain from committing a sacrilege. […] (SH 139)


- And is that why you will not communicate, Cranly asked, because you are not sure of that too, because you feel that the host, too, may be the body and blood of the son of God and not a wafer of bread? And because you fear that it may be? […] But why do you fear a bit of bread? (P 264)


[Stephen] - […] I will not submit to the church. (SH 139)


- I will not serve, answered Stephen. (P 260)


[Cranly] Did it ever strike you that Jesus may have been a conscious impostor? (SH 141)


- I mean, Cranly said, hardening in his speech, did the idea ever occur to you that he was himself a conscious hypocrite […] (P 263-4)

In neither text does Cranly seem to question Stephen’s attitude towards religious or spiritual issues, but rather underlines his intransigence in refusing to keep up an appearance. In Portrait, Cranly’s remarks appear more specific and pungent; hyperboles and rhetorical questions introduce a satirical attitude into his discourse.[15]

In “Stephen’s Easter duty”, different textual portions are conflated and, with further modifications, become a single passage in the new textualization. This phenomenon, which is widespread in the Portrait dossier, can be defined combination. Among the most revealing cases of combination there is the episode of McCann’s testimonial (P 210-3), which gathers at least six passages of Stephen Hero (SH 106, 107-8, 112-3, 128, 149), the dean of studies’ query about the useful and aesthetic arts (P 199-200), where three episodes are fused together (SH 27, 28, 95) and the discussion between Stephen and Lynch about aesthetics (P 230-1), where five different episodes are merged (SH 77, 79, 95-6, 171, 211-3).

c. Madden/Davin’s matriculation

In Stephen Hero, the first encounter between Stephen and Madden (Davin in Portrait) is part of the episodic and cyclical narration which characterizes the work (SH 24-5). In Portrait, the same event appears modified by various eliminations, is included in a dialogic scene and represents a brief fracture in the chronological continuity of the story:

Stephen Hero



One morning he Stephen arrived three quarters of an hour late […] a young man began to ascend the winding stairs slowly. […]

- Is this the way to the Matriculation class, if you please, he asked in a brogue accenting the first syllable of Matriculation. Stephen directed him and the two young men began to talk. The new student was named Madden […] (SH 25)


Stephen paused and laid a friendly hand upon Davin's shoulder.

- Do you remember, he said, when we knew each other first? The first morning we met you asked me to show you the way to the matriculation class, putting a very strong stress on the first syllable. You remember? […] (P 219)

In the published text, Stephen reminds Davin about the moment of their acquaintance, emphasizing what probably had made a deeper impression on him. The function of this passage is completely different in the two novels: it is an independent episode in Stephen Hero, while in Portrait it becomes the corollary of a discussion between Stephen and Davin. As Brown suggests, memory gives “personal significance” to the events (xvi): in Portrait only Stephen’s perception of reality emerges, events are sifted through his perspective and his ability to remember.

Two other textual portions of Stephen Hero undergo an extensive reduction in Portrait and contemporarily become an analepsis: they concern Stephen’s visits at Mr. Daniel’s house (SH 46; P 237-8) and the relationship between Emma and father Moran (SH 65; P 239). A similar transformational pattern, as we have seen, characterizes the re-elaboration of the Malahide passage from “A Portrait of the Artist” into Stephen Hero. I have defined this phenomenon condensation: through this procedure, a textual portion not only appears shortened in the subsequent textualization, but it is also inserted as an anachronism, a fracture in the chronological continuity of the story.


In the Portrait dossier, concomitant textual changes often affect the same textual portion, originating complex hybrids: phenomena of decrease, increase and dislocation converge in new configurations. The textual portions concerning “Lynch’s description”, “Stephen’s Easter duty” and “Madden/Davin’s matriculation” are exemplary of three different categories of textual change which occur at various compositional stages in the Portrait dossier: dissemination, combination and condensation seem to characterize most rewriting processes.

At the base of textual displacements are two opposite phenomena: increase and decrease. Although the two phenomena seem to coexist at any phase of the writing process, each appears dominant at different stages. Increase seems to characterize, for example, the compositional path which led from Epiphanies and “A Portrait of the Artist” to Stephen Hero. Decrease occurs predominantly in a later phase of the writing process, in particular in the re-elaboration of Epiphanies and Stephen Hero in Portrait. In the light of these textual dynamics, it is possible to suppose that the writing of Portrait proceeded according to two opposite and alternating ‘wave-movements’: textual expansion and textual contraction.

The alternate processes of textual increase and decrease, as well as procedures such as combination, dissemination and condensation are employed not only in the whole Portrait dossier, but also in the composition of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, with slight variations. Perhaps Joyce consciously adopted systematic procedures of textual change: at least, he seemed aware of continuity in his patterns of rewriting. Allusions to phenomena of dissemination and recombination appear, in fact, in various works. In Stephen Hero, Stephen “permuted and combined the five vowels” to write his poems (SH 32), while Finnegans Wake includes references to 


separated elements of precedent decomposition for the verypetpurpose of subsequent recombination so that the heroticisms, catastrophes and eccentricities transmitted by the ancient legacy of the past; type by tope, letter from litter, word at ward, with sendence of sundance […] anastomosically assimilated […] the sameold gamebold adomic structure  (FW 614.34-615.06).


In drafting new material, Joyce re-read and re-wrote much of what he had previously written, generating complex intertextual (or intratextual) webs; thus, different kinds of works could conflate in the same textualization. What seems essential in the rewriting processes of Epiphanies, “A Portrait of the Artist” and Stephen Hero is that each new textualization is also a completely new kind of writing: the “sameold structure” actually appears kinetic, continuously changing.

The nature, function and formal characteristics of the sketches in Epiphanies are entirely transformed; “A Portrait of the Artist” loses its experimental features and is re-elaborated in a novel, while Stephen Hero is modified through a basic change of the enunciational perspective. In the light of these transformations, it is possible to say that for Joyce rewriting meant a complete revolution of the text: it could imply a passage from one literary genre to another or a wholly different point of view on the material.

In the Portrait dossier, re-employment also means ‘translation’ and re-interpretation of the text: when the writing process came to an impasse, or to a complete rupture, Joyce explored new modalities of expression. Subsequent compositional stages of Portrait propose different perspectives on events and ideas, revealing an early interest for mutations in form, style and meaning: such mutations, at a different level, become the distinctive features of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, characterized by a “hybrid style that, through mimicry, amalgamation, and transformation, allows us to occupy multiple perspectives virtually simultaneously” (Riquelme 106).


[1] I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Prof. Donatella Pallotti (University of Florence) for her constant and indispensable guidance in the completion of my study and to Prof. Paola Pugliatti (University of Florence) for the precious indications she offered me on several occasions.

[2] I have analysed the available documentation of Epiphanies, “A Portrait of the Artist” and Stephen Hero on the facsimiles in JJA, vols. 7 and 8.

[3] Twenty-two epiphanies are preserved in Buffalo I.A: these texts, presumably fair copies, are dated 1903-04. The verso of each sheet is numbered (only I.A.1, 5, 12-14, 16, 19, 21, 22, 26, 28, 30, 42, 44, 45, 52, 56, 57, 59, 65, 70, 71 are extant). The gaps in the numbering of the pages suggest that the collection was probably made up of at least 71 epiphanies. Cornell 18 contains the so-called “Gogarty epiphany”, while Cornell 17 includes 22 texts, which were written by Stanislaus Joyce on the verso of his manuscript titled “Selections in Prose from Various Authors”. The epiphanies are transcribed on the sheets numbered 40-53, 56-58, 61, 62 and 65. Finally, in Cornell 15 are conserved two copies of three epiphanies, again in Stanislaus’ handwriting and annotated on the verso of “My Crucible” (Cornell 4) In all, forty of the at least 71 epiphanies which Joyce must have annotated are now extant.

[4] Joyce did not rework the same epiphanies in the two novels: he re-employed principally dramatic epiphanies in the composition of Stephen Hero and narrative epiphanies in the composition of Portrait. Only three of the sketches were introduced in both novels, “The spell of arms and voices” (Cornell 17.40-41), “The children who have stayed last” (Cornell 17.44) and “The quick light shower is over but tarries” (Cornell 17.61-62). After having compared the parts of the two novels where the same epiphanies are re-elaborated, I think it is probable that Joyce rewrote Epiphanies in Portrait both directly and indirectly (that is to say, through the mediation of Stephen Hero). Epiphanies can represent, therefore, a direct source for the composition of both novels.

[5] In my discussion “Epiphanies” refers to Joyce’s collection, “epiphany” and “epiphanies” refer to the single sketches of the collection, “epiphany” means the early prose-type as a whole.

[6] Some epiphanies also appear in other works by Joyce (See Scholes & Kain 11-50, notes on transcriptions). In this study, I consider only the relationships between Epiphanies and the Portrait genetic dossier.

[7] Due to the incompleteness of the documentation, the re-employment of Epiphanies in Stephen Hero cannot be fully analyzed. The texts re-elaborated in Stephen Hero are: Buffalo I.A.12 (SH 251), 14 (SH 46), 16 (SH 43), 21 (SH 45), 22 (SH 244), 42 (SH 163), 44 (SH 167), 45 (SH 169); Cornell 17.40-41 (SH 237), 42 (SH 38), 44 (SH 67), 45-46 (SH 165), 61-62 (SH 183-4).

[8] It should be noted that if we are to consider every text as independent and ‘complete’, it cannot be assumed that the meaning of the epiphany is disclosed or made explicit in Stephen Hero. Buffalo I.A.45 has multiple meanings and the interpretation of the text could be said to depend on the subjective interpretation. The ‘open text’ is transformed in the novel, where it acquires a specific meaning.

[9] The fragmentariness of the speech is the only formal feature common to both Epiphanies and Stephen Hero: the process of rewriting often preserves the dots, as in “.... Well.... let me see.... […] I think... Goethe” (SH 43).

[10] The extant epiphanies included in Portrait are: Buffalo I.A-1 (P 4); Cornell 17.40-41 (P 275), 41 (P 164), 44 (P 72), 45 (P 238), 53 (P 106), 56 (P 71), 56-57 (P 272), 57-58 (P 148-9), 61-62 (P 234-5), 65 (P 25).

[11] Joyce employed his sister Mabel’s copybook to write “A Portrait of the Artist” (Buffalo II.A.1-15), dated 7 January 1904, and some pre-compositional schemes for Stephen Hero (II.A.16-23). “A Portrait of the Artist” is available in two other copies, not James Joyce’s holographs: a transcription by Stanislaus Joyce in Cornell 35, which contains only the first part of the short story, and a typescript in Cornell 34, which Gabler defines a “thoroughly corrupt text” (JJA 7 xxviii).

[12] Since “A Portrait of the Artist” includes broad expositions of the protagonist’s artistic and philosophical theories, it is commonly defined an essay. Even though the experimental nature of the text may generate ambiguities, I think “A Portrait of the Artist” can be considered a short story: it describes the development of a fictitious character at different stages of his life

[13] It should be noted that the crossed-out text in II.A.10, which does not appear in the extant chapters of Stephen Hero, presents lexical and syntactic relationships with Portrait (P 107). On the one hand, Joyce might have inserted this passage in a part of Stephen Hero which is now lost and II.A.10 could have been re-elaborated in Portrait via the intermediary Stephen Hero. On the other hand, it cannot be excluded that “A Portrait of the Artist” represents also a direct source for Portrait. Further elements point to direct connections between the short story and the published text: in the first place, the titles appear closely related; in the second place, “A Portrait of the Artist” presents structural analogies with Portrait, since both texts are subdivided in five parts. The relationships between “A Portrait of the Artist”, Stephen Hero and Portrait cannot be further clarified, as the incompleteness of the documentation makes it impossible to draw any definitive conclusion.

[14] The documentation of Stephen Hero is preserved in: Harvard College Library, Yale University Library and Cornell Joyce Collection. The available manuscript consists of 401 sheets: 30 pages numbered 477-506, and 371 pages numbered 519-902, with two pages missing and some wrong numberings. In all, twelve chapters (XIV- XXV) are extant.

[15] I would like to underline the different ways in which Stephen expresses his detachment from the Church in the two novels. In Stephen Hero, he refuses Holy Communion with the words “I will not submit to the church” (SH 139).  The rebellious act is directed towards an authority and specifically addressed. In Portrait, “I will not serve” (P 260) suggests that Stephen will not submit to any authority, including the Church. Quoting Lucifer’s non serviam, Stephen expresses a refusal of both the Institutions and the faith.

Works Cited


SH                               Joyce, James. Stephen Hero. Ed. Theodore Spencer, John J. Slocum and Herbert Cahoon. New York: New Directions, 1963.

P                      –– . A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1992.

FW                  –– . Finnegans Wake. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1992.

L II                  –– . Letters. Vol. II. Ed. Richard Ellmann. New York: Viking, 1966.

SL                    –– . Selected Letters. Ed. Richard Ellmann. London: Faber & Faber, 1975.

JJA 7                           Groden, Michael, et alii, eds. The James Joyce Archive. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: A Facsimile of Epiphanies, Notes, Manuscripts and Typescripts. Vol. 7. New York, London: Garland, 1978.

JJA 8                           –– .      The James Joyce Archive, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: A Facsimile of the Manuscript Fragments of Stephen Hero. Vol. 8. New York, London: Garland, 1978.


Ellmann, Richard. James Joyce. 1959. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Gabler, Hans W. “The Seven Lost Years of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”. Approaches to Joyce’s Portrait: Ten Essays. Ed. Thomas F. Staley and Bernard Benstock. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1976. 25-60.

Joyce, Stanislaus. The Complete Dublin Diary. Ed. George H. Healey. Ithaca: Cornell U. P., 1971.

Prescott, Joseph. “Stephen Hero”. Twentieth Century Interpretations of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Ed. William M. Schutte. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.: Prentice Hall, 1968. 21-25.

Riquelme, John P. “Stephen Hero and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Transforming the Nightmare of History”. The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce. 2nd edition. Ed. Derek Attridge. Cambridge: Cambridge U.P., 2004. 103-120.

Scholes, Robert, and Richard M. Kain, eds. The Workshop of Daedalus: James Joyce and the Raw Materials for A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Evanston: Northwestern U. P., 1965.