Embryological Chart for "Oxen of the Sun"

This is one of two versions of Joyce's diagram for "Oxen of the Sun"--an episode set in a maternity hospital. The near-illegible words track the month-by-month developments of a human fetus, paralleling the metamorphosis of language Joyce explores through pastiche. In a letter to Frank Budgen, dated 20 March 1920, Joyce wrote that he was hard at work on the episode—"the idea being the crime committed against fecundity by sterilizing the act of coition." Joyce related to Budgen a litany of the progression of literary styles he planned to employ, including a Sallustian-Tacitean prelude ("the unfertilized ovum"), early alliterative and monosyllabic English, Anglo-Saxon à la Mandeville, followed by Malory, the Elizabethan chronicle style, Milton, "Latin-gossipy," Burton, Browne, Bunyan, Pepys, Evelyn, Defoe, Swift, Addison and Steele, Sterne, Landor, and Pater, culminating in his identification of English, Irish, American, and Black vernaculars.

James Joyce (1882–1941)
Embryological diagram for the “Oxen of the Sun” episode in Ulysses, 1920
James Joyce Collection, #4906, Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library
© The Estate of James Joyce.