Digital Scholarly Editions of Modernist Texts: Navigating the Text in Samuel Beckett’s ‘Watt’ Manuscripts

Mark Byron

Abstract


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.

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