A recurring dialectic is established at numerous critical points in Pound’s poetry and prose: between a centre of power and a perceived hostile threat. This structure commonly occurs when Pound is dealing with historical material, especially in the Cantos: Imperial China and the barbarian threat of Buddhists, Taoists, and Mongols; the crumbling Roman Empire of Justinian and the military and economic threat of Abdl Malik in the eastern Mediterranean; and even the threat posed by the engineers of war in Pound’s lifetime, mobilising conflict for perceived financial gain at the cost of civilisation and humanity. What does this recurring structure tell us about Pound’s thinking more generally? Is it a necessary or otherwise desirable mechanism by which to legitimise centralised power, especially when that power is Pound’s subject in poetry or prose (such as the China Cantos)? How might this mechanism of centre and periphery be resolved with Pound’s earlier expression of opposition to authority in the Vorticist / Blast era, in the cultural centre of London? Or indeed his valorisation of the Na-Khi late in his poetic career? This paper will explore some examples of this mechanism in the prose and poetry, to establish the kind and strength of any emergent pattern, and to evaluate its significance more generally for Pound’s thought.
Beckett Studies is cresting a wave brought about by the new availability of significant primary material – particularly the various notebooks and published volumes of letters. This heightened documentary awareness has stimulated renewed attention to text structure, continuities of themes and tropes in Beckett’s reading and note-taking, and, consequently, has provoked new insights into aspects of his composition processes. Another dimension of this renewed appraisal of text structure is the increased critical exposure to Beckett’s literary manuscripts. These documents provide a broader and richer framework within which to describe the Beckett “text” as a literary event or process. Current efforts to digitise these documents, along with authoritative transcriptions of them, compel acute reflections on the status of Beckett’s texts, and the editorial methods adequate to the task of establishing and representing them. Scholarly editing and hermeneutics have still to catch up with some of the formal and structural experiments of Beckett’s texts.
Samuel Beckett’s novel Watt is uniquely positioned in his oeuvre: composed in exile in 1941-45 and first published in 1953, it forecasts the transition from English to French as his preferred language of composition, and signifies a shift from the expansive comic mode of the early Beckett so influenced by Joyce to the linguistically austere and ontologically-minded later Beckett. The precarious mode of the text’s composition also sees a profound meditation on the purpose and structure of literary expression, abundantly evident in the six manuscript notebooks and partial typescript. This work engages with a profound rethinking of narrative, discarding any sense of compositional telos from drafts to finished, published work. Instead, a reticulated, imbricated series of narrative episodes trace paths across the surface of the published text, and deep into the archive. By force of circumstance and by force of will, Beckett thought his compositional practices into a radical zone of narrative deformation that was to have a lasting effect on his writing, and upon literary aesthetics in the latter half of the twentieth century.
This paper describes some challenges and opportunities that arise in producing a digital manuscript transcription of Samuel Beckett’s 1953 novel, Watt. This project addresses a number of issues in Beckett Studies and perhaps more generally in Modernist Literary Studies, but at the same time it raises a number of questions concerning text status and the identity of the literary object.
This paper will demonstrate an advanced work in progress, the digitised manuscript and transcription of Samuel Beckett’s novel Watt (composed in 1941-45 and first published in 1953). Discussion of the project will centre upon the digital resources buttressing the presentation of manuscript material and a range of related analytic features, and will outline some of the more significant ways in which specifically digital treatment of the material opens up new lines of literary and textual analysis. Indeed, some foundational concepts of textuality come into sharp focus by virtue of digital treatment of textual materials. Some of these concerns will be illustrated by way of examples taken from the Watt project, and by a fuller view of the complex relationship between text and manuscript arising from the project.
Modernist literary texts, especially those in the avant-garde tradition, present fundamental challenges to classical concepts of text status and structure. These texts, experimental in their published forms, also demonstrate complex relationships with their manuscript documents. Renewed interest in the flexible text models of the German philological tradition, and the promise of digital tools and techniques, presents scholarly editors with potentially ground-breaking opportunities to represent Modernist texts in ways that make explicit the nature and extent of their formal experimentation. This essay takes Samuel Beckett’s novel Watt, and its complex manuscript archive, as an example: a number of digital tools and techniques, taken with renewed concepts of literary structure, may provide the editorial means by which to do justice to the formal and aesthetic innovations in this singular text process.
Digital Humanities SIG
Date & time: Monday 29 November, 4-5 pm
Location: Rogers Room N397, Level 3 Woolley Building A20, University of Sydney
Do you need to know more about digital methods for humanities research and teaching? Come and join us for an occasional get-together over a glass of wine and share your knowledge, develop collaborations or get some advice.
We expect to hold these meetings every couple of months, and to kick each one off with a short talk on some topic of general interest.
“10 things you need to know …”
The first installment of “101 things you need to know about the Digital Humanities but were afraid to ask!” We are assembling a small set of essential tips – from Annotation to Zotero – with immediate and broad application for Humanities scholars. Come along to get new ideas or contribute to the top 101.
RSVP not required, but let us know if you are likely to attend so we have an idea of numbers
Mark Byron, English [ firstname.lastname@example.org ]
Ian Johnson, Digital Innovation Unit [ email@example.com ]