“The Digital Arm of the Archive and the Status of Beckett’s Texts,” Samuel Beckett: Out of the Archive, York University, 23-26 June 2011

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.


About msbyron27

Lecturer in Modern and Contemporary British and American Literature, Department of English, University of Sydney
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