Dirk Van Hulle and Mark Nixon have been awarded funding from the United Kingdom’s Arts and Humanities Research Council for a 3-year project: ‘Editing Beckett: Towards a Bilingual Digital Genetic Edition of Samuel Beckett’s Works’ which forms part of the ongoing Beckett Digital Manuscript Project [BDMP].
The purpose of the BDMP, as stated by its organisers ‘is to reunite the manuscripts of Samuel Beckett’s works in a digital way, and to facilitate genetic research: the project brings together digital facsimiles of documents that are now preserved in different holding libraries, and adds transcriptions of Beckett’s manuscripts, tools for bilingual and genetic version comparison, a search engine, and an analysis of the textual genesis of his works’.
Building on material in the archive of the BDMP, this AHRC project aims to produce a ‘manuscript edition’. Assembling and digitally reuniting manuscripts that belong to the genesis of each of Beckett’s works singly is one thing, and making transcriptions of these often near-illegible manuscripts is another. But the result is still ‘only’ a digital archive in the sense of a collection of individual pieces of documentation. To turn the digital archive into a digital edition, the project integrates a ‘collation engine’ (enabling users to compare textual versions by means of computer-assisted collation).
The edition is not an end in itself: the project also aims to show how this edition can be instrumental in the interpretation of literary texts and how it can contribute to the study of writing processes (genetic criticism). That is why the digital editions are accompanied by an ancillary print volume (published by Bloomsbury), explaining the development of the work and interpreting the intertextual links between the author’s reading and his writing. ‘Beckett’s Critical Writings’ will be published by Faber and Faber and an accessible monograph ‘How Beckett Wrote’ by Cambridge University Press.
The Beckett Digital Manuscript Project is a collaboration between the Centre for Manuscript Genetics (University of Antwerp), the Beckett International Foundation (University of Reading), the Oxford Centre for Textual Editing and Theory (University of Oxford), and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (University of Texas at Austin), with the kind permission of the Estate of Samuel Beckett.