Dirk Van Hulle

The Archival Turn and the Archival Turnip: Towards a Critical Bilingual Edition of Samuel Beckett's Works

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Critical Editing; Manuscript; Beckett; Philology.

In Anglophone literary studies, the phrase 'the archival turn' is gaining currency as a term to denote something that has arguably always been part of our discipline, but that has not always been appreciated to the same degree. The 'archival turn' may create expectations that are too high. What is to be found by digging in literary archives is rarely spectacular. Manuscript research is hard and patient work, and it is often serendipitous. The occasional truffle is seldom discovered because one was looking for it. In order to find truffles without running the risk of untimely discouragement, it is probably best to be intent on finding only turnips. Starting from a turnip in the manuscripts of Beckett's novel "L'Innommable", this article argues for a steady, constant investment in textual and archival studies as an important aspect of literary studies. The urgent need for a critical edition in Beckett studies serves as a case study to, first of all, suggest a rationale for a digital scholarly edition, and more generally make a case for a revaluation of manuscript studies.

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