The Schema of Ulysses

Joyce created lists and charts to help plan Ulysses. This schema, as Joyce called it, diagrams the novel with respect to each episode’s symbol, color, art, organ, hour, scene, narrative technique, and Homeric correspondences. Joyce first collated notes in this scroll format to help certain writers discuss or translate parts of the work; he also made presentation copies for Harriet Shaw Weaver and Sylvia Beach around the time of the novel’s publication. The extensive Homeric links had been elaborated as he neared Ulysses’ completion, when Joyce sought to unify more motifs across episodes and clarify the structure. He later regretted the document’s unauthorized circulation, believing that it detracted from an appreciation of the novel’s overarching form and substance.

James Joyce (1882–1941)
Typewritten schema of Ulysses, with detail
Prepared for George Antheil, Paris, ca. 1924
The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of Sean and Mary Kelly, 2018; PML 197792.1
© The Estate of James Joyce.