Six Notebooks in Search of an Editor: Samuel Beckett’s Murphy
Andrew Nash, 26 Apr 2016, CEIR Seminar Series
Claiming that he has no critical authority in the field of Samuel Beckett, Dr Andrew Nash (University of Reading) confessed that his paper would shed no new light on Beckett’s writings. The paper was, instead, a thought-provoking account of the changes taking place in manuscript research, the increasing emphasis on the materiality of the manuscript, and the technological conditions (writing instruments and papers) that influence literary production. Nash’s research also provided the centre with an invaluable insight into the status of the modern literary manuscript as an artefact of considerable commercial value, and, in the case of Beckett’s Murphy notebooks, the ways in which the commercial and the scholarly are indelibly intertwined.
Professor Carl Phelpstead introduces Dr Andrew Nash
In July 2013, the University of Reading successfully purchased at auction six manuscript notebooks, detailing the composition of Beckett’s first novel Murphy (1938). Justifying their bid of £950,000, the University maintained that the acquisition of the manuscript would solidify its reputation as a central archival resource for Beckett’s work, and attract more scholars and researchers to Reading. (more…)
Dale Townshend, Tuesday 16 Feb 2016, CEIR Seminar Series
Since the publication of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto in December 1764, much debate has surrounded the origin of, what has been repeatedly described as, the first gothic novel. In an attempt to pinpoint the real architectural sources of the text’s haunting fortress, Dale Townshend’s paper exposed us to the various literary Gothic localities with which Walpole’s work converses. Yet, it was not until the publication of the second edition of the text in 1765 that Walpole identified his work openly with the gothic tradition, choosing to publish the novel with the sub-title ‘A Gothic Story’. It was also in this publication that Walpole acknowledged himself as the writer of the piece (using the initials ‘H.W.’, revealing that the ‘translator’ of the first edition, William Marshal, was in fact a pseudonym for himself. Much mystery, then, surrounded the publication of the work, leaving readers to question the source of this mysterious story, as well the site of its ghostly location. (more…)