EdRLS

The New Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson

Posts Tagged ‘literature

Conference report for RLS 2013: Stevenson, Time and History (UNSW)

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by Naomi Carle (Durham University)

I have to confess, I was more than a little sceptical that I would be able to identify a group of Stevensonians among the crowd gathered on the steps of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, but I needn’t have worried. Although this was to be my first Stevenson conference (well over-due), a collection of amiable and interested faces affirmed I was in the right place. Roslyn Jolly’s inspired decision to begin the conference with a tour of Stevenson’s Sydney was both convivial and informative. We viewed pictures illustrative of the ‘sham candy cane’ tropics that Stevenson strove to correct; saw an exhibition of manuscripts collated especially for the conference at the State Library and marvellously contextualised by Roger Swearingen’s extensive notes; rested in the very chair Stevenson often occupied when hiding away from his womenfolk at the Union Club (albeit now housed in a rather impressive skyscraper that would have been entirely alien to him); and wondered at his vehement hatred of the inoffensive Post Office Tower. Roslyn’s helpful revelation that one of his manuscripts was ingested by its corridors never to re-emerge went some way to explaining things. As with all good tours, ours ended in a bar – a rather marvellous institution tucked beneath the majestic sails of the Opera House, just above the harbour. By the time we began to peel off into the night, I felt like I was parting from old friends.

Union Club, Sydney

Roslyn and Chris Danta continued the spirit of the previous evening in their official warm welcome to the conference, which included a respectful acknowledgement of the indigenous peoples whose land we met on. Business began with Adrian Poole’s masterful keynote, which utilised Alan’s ‘grand memory for forgetting’ (uttered in genuine Scots) as a fruitful point of departure for a discussion of individual and collective memory as models for writing in Stevenson’s works. From a polite agreement between friends, to rats nibbling at the edges of a vicar’s sermon and fin-de-siècle preoccupations with psychology, history, points of origin and genetics, we arrived by steps and leaps at a new appreciation for Stevenson’s uneasy understanding of survivals which resonated with many subsequent discussions. There followed a day of illuminating and incredibly inter-related panels, despite their diversity in topic and approach. The many faces of Stevenson were discussed in relation to the historical novel, the anxiety of influence, the reception of his work in French literary circles and Portuguese translation, and his complex relationship with the law. These papers provoked interesting elaborations on Stevenson’s playfulness as a writer, the contention between history and fiction in his writing, and his desire to be innovative and experimental in all while remaining acutely aware of the limitations of his chosen medium. During lunch, we were treated to the book launch of Juvenilia Press’s edition of Stevenson’s Early Writings, edited by Christine Alexander and Elise McPherson. The volume contains some remarkable sketches drawn to accompany his writings, which show that an interest in the dialogue between artistic forms began at an early age.

rls2013

The themes of memory and Stevenson’s unsettling ability to leave his reader with a startling pictorial impression carried through into the second day. We enjoyed panels on Stevenson’s manipulation of narrative time, his strong interest in science and medicine, the tension between tradition and modernity and his important Samoan connection. One of the most arresting of Stevenson’s characteristics to emerge was the plasticity of his approach, the immense capacity he had for seeing, and capturing oral tradition in his writing. After the day’s proceedings, we were privileged to attend the unveiling of a newly discovered Stevenson poem, ‘Birthday verses to a Lady’, at Sancta Sophia College. Roslyn Jolly delivered a wide-ranging lecture on the poem’s context in Stevenson’s oeuvre, elucidating the meaning of the find: the manuscript had been tucked away in College archives, undisturbed for years. Caroline Howlitt, one of the conference delegates, provided an authentic Scottish accent for another of Stevenson’s related verses, adding an international flavour to the evening.

The final day brought with it a further windfall of stimulating papers – spanning the sundry aspects of Stevenson’s writings from childhood, his creativity with both words and pictures, and his highly developed interest in the dynamics of process, change and movement. Alongside these panels, we were treated to some rather out of the ordinary presentations. Penny Fielding and Anthony Mandal gave us a preview of the current working format for the much-anticipated Edinburgh Edition, including a list of the anticipated dates for publication of the individual volumes. Anthony then returned after lunch to tell us about his highly innovative Jekyll 2.0 project which will bring the experience of Jekyll’s London to life for participants. Using technology that monitors cardiac and sensory responses to the simulated world, players will be guided through their own unique version of Jekyll’s experience of transforming into Hyde. Anthony shared the closing panel with Jo Henwood, who – like all the independent scholars participating in the conference – gave a refreshing and insightful portrayal of her personal engagement with Stevenson through her profession as a storyteller. In an entertaining and unscripted presentation, she took us right to the heart of Stevenson’s craft in her survey of his narrative techniques designed to exploit the power of suggestion and lure an audience in.

I left Sydney determined to contribute to Virginia 2015, and eager to return to my study and inject something of the intellectual vibrancy of the past three days into my thesis.

Written by Anthony Mandal

05/09/2013 at 2:51 pm

Jekyll 2.0: Embodying the Gothic Text

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At the end of November 2012, I was lucky enough to be part of a team that won a commission through the innovative REACT Books&Print Sandbox call for early 2013. I’ll be working as lead academic partner with Bristol-based creative company, SlingShot, to create a pervasive media experience that draws on the narrative and themes of Stevenson’s gothic masterpiece.

Humanity 2.0 is an understanding of the human condition that no longer takes the ‘normal human body’ as given. On the one hand, we’re learning more about our continuity with the rest of nature—in terms of the ecology, genetic make-up, evolutionary history. On this basis, it’s easy to conclude that being ‘human’ is overrated. But on the other hand, we’re also learning more about how to enhance the capacities that have traditionally marked us off from the rest of nature.
—Steve Fuller, Auguste Comte Chair in Social Epistemology, Warwick.

Double exposure of Richard Mansfield as Jekyll and Hyde (1895).The core of our project draws on the fundamental questions of Jekyll and Hyde: What makes us human? Do our minds control our bodies or are we shaped by our urges, compulsions and appetites? Will technology radically transform us into a new organism, ‘Humanity 2.0’? Such questions are nothing new: during the 19th century, the cultural implications of emerging theories of identity and the dominance of science were explored by numerous works of literature. Drawing on this tradition, our project transforms this reading into play, to create a pervasive gaming experience that links individuals’ bio-data with one such text, Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde (1886), in order to stimulate participants into considering the condition of their own humanity. Read the rest of this entry »

Talk on scholarly editing at the National Library of Scotland, 9 Nov 2011

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Textual Editing in Principle and Practice: What Are You Reading? Lecture 2

Dr Alison Lumsden (University of Aberdeen) and Dr Anthony Mandal (Cardiff University)

National Library of Scotland, 9 November 2011, 6pm (free)

Why should you buy a book for £6.99 when you might have the same title for 1.99? Is it just the price? The quality of the paper and cover? Or might the text itself—the words you’ll be reading—be different?

Why does a research library like the NLS hold so many copies of the same title? What difference does it make to read one copy rather than another? Why are so many books even needed?

The books that we buy in bookshops or read in libraries may have the same titles, but they are often very different—they may contain different words; sometimes a crucial scene or even the ending may vary. Some editions will alert the reader to these differences—others will just print the most easily available text. In this series we will look at some famous examples of texts which have more than one version, and guide you through the choices editors make in order to produce a text for the informed reader.

In this lecture, the second of the series, scholars working on major editions of key Scottish authors will explore how modern editors set about producing an edited text. What are the principles we adhere to? What is the evidence that counts in valuing one state of the text over another? Should we prefer the author’s first or last version? How should we treat the author’s original manuscript? In the second part of the talk we will demonstrate the process of editing, in particular how we can benefit from the latest technological advances.

  • Why we edit books. Dr Alison Lumsden (Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels)
  • How we edit books. Dr Anthony Mandal (New Edinburgh Edition of Robert Louis Stevenson)

Part of the ‘What Are You Reading’ series of lectures and workshops. For more information download the ‘What Are You Reading’ information sheet PDF (122 KB, 2 pages).

Please book your tickets online or call the NLS directly on 0131 623 3918.

Written by Anthony Mandal

07/11/2011 at 5:20 am

News from the volume editors: Prince Otto

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by Robert Irvine

Editing a Stevenson novel can involve some very small matters as well as some big questions. Robert Irvine describes how one of the smallest points of all—the hyphen—raises questions about historical usage.

First choices
I have been working recently to establish a ‘copy text’ of Stevenson’s 1885 novel Prince Otto. A ‘copy text’ is a particular instance of a text which is taken as a base-line by the editor, against which variations in other versions of the text can be listed, and variations from which in the final published version must be justified. We have chosen the first book edition to perform this function for the New Edinburgh Edition. So my first task as editor is to ensure that the electronic copy text on my screen conforms in all aspects to the text published by Chatto and Windus in 1885. In principle, no editorial decisions are to be made at this stage: where there are mistakes, even an obvious printing error like the omission of a quotation mark, those remain in the copy text, to be corrected when the text is edited and the correction noted.

That pesky hyphen
No editorial decisions to be made in principle at this stage: but one set of editorial decisions is, in fact, unavoidable. In transcribing prose, we pay no attention to line-endings in the text from which we are transcribing, line-endings in prose being dictated by space available on the page, and nothing more. To preserve the line-endings in the transcription of a prose text irrespective of the size of your new page would be to turn it from prose into verse. But to make the most efficient use of the length of line available to him the type-setter of the printed text will sometimes split words at the end of a line with a hyphen. Usually the transcriber of the copy text can ignore these hyphens and restore the complete word. The problem comes when the word that has been split across two lines might have been hyphenated to start with. Deciding whether or not to preserve the hyphen in the copy text in such cases is no longer a case of simply preserving what is on the page in front of you, but requires reference to other sources of information: requires, that is, an editorial decision. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by pennyfielding

13/07/2011 at 9:32 pm

EdRLS blog now with added Twitter goodness!

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You can now follow regular updates from our linked Twitter page, managed by Lesley Graham, through this blog. The Twitter feed carries updates about the project, as well as matters of interest relating to all things Stevenson and tidbits from RLS himself … all in the space of 140 characters! You can view the last five tweets on the right navigation bar of this blog and can view the full Twitter feed by clicking on the links.

You can also follow our tweets directly @ https://twitter.com/#!/RLSte.

Written by Anthony Mandal

25/05/2011 at 1:49 am

EdRLS receives funding from Royal Society of Edinburgh

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We’re delighted to announce that a bid submitted to support EdRLS earlier this year to the Royal Society of Edinburgh was successful. The bid was entered into the recently launched RSE Arts & Humanities Major Research Grants competition, which makes awards of up to £175,000 provided by the Scottish Parliament in order to support ‘investigations in Scotland that will lead to advances in creativity, intellectual insights and knowledge that are of value to the research community and of use in wider social contexts’ [RSE website].

We are grateful to the RSE, whose generous support will ensure that the EdRLS team will be able to generate a sizeable quantity of volumes in our first phase, while maintaining the highest scholarly and production standards.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Anthony Mandal

24/05/2011 at 9:18 pm

Stevenson Edition in the headlines

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William Gray’s upcoming volume of  the Fables is featured in today’s Observer newspaper.  Here Bill explains about Colvin’s manipulation of the stories for the original Edinburgh Edition and discusses how his new edition will restore Stevenson’s own ideas for the way the Fables should be read together:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/apr/24/robert-louis-stevenson-fairytales

Update: the story runs and runs!

http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/Fairytale-ending-for-Stevenson-book.6758606.jp

Written by pennyfielding

24/04/2011 at 12:06 pm

Scholarly editing blog

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Fill His Head First with a Thousand Quotations is blog edited by Wesley Wraabe (Kent State University) with threads on digital humanities and scholarly editing.

Wraabe is a specialist on Beecher Stowe and the production and variation of magazine and volume publication – so just before our period, though dealing with many of the same problems.

Postings of interest include Collation in Scholarly Editing and Reliability of Electronic Texts.

Written by rdury

02/01/2011 at 7:19 am

CFP: Mervyn Peake Conference 2011

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Mervyn Peake and the Fantasy Tradition : A Centenary Conference

An international conference hosted by the English & Creative Writing Department, University of Chichester and the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy

15–16 July 2011 Chichester, UK

Keynote Speakers include: Joanne Harris | Michael Moorcock | Peter Winnington |Colin Manlove | Farah Mendlesohn | Sebastian Peake

This conference and related events next July to mark the centenary of Peake’s birth include exhibitions of his paintings and illustrations in Chichester (Peake lived in nearby Burpham while writing the Gormenghast books, and is buried there). July 2011 is also the publication date of Titus Awakes, Maeve Gilmore’s conclusion of her husband’s Gormenghast sequence. The conference will celebrate, explore and discuss the many facets of Peake’s rich creativity, including his work as fantasy novelist, children’s writer, playwright, poet, writer of nonsense verse, artist and illustrator (both of his own books and classics such as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, The Hunting of the Snark, the Alice books, Treasure Island and the Grimms’ Household Tales).

Proposals are invited for papers, presentations and panels on any aspect of Peake’s work. We especially welcome proposals relating Peake to the broader traditions of fairy tales, fantasy and children’s literature.Relevant topics might include:

  • thematic explorations of Peake’s oeuvre
  • textual / linguistic / rhetorical analyses
  • issues of genre (e.g. in what sense is Peake’s work ‘fantasy’?)
  • issues of race and/or gender and/or class in Peake’s oeuvre
  • questions of ‘applicability’ (in Tolkien’s sense)
  • the relation of image and text in narrative (both in Peake’s own books and in those he illustrated)
  • adaptations of Peake’s work
  • Peake’s literary precursors and sources, for example in (Gothic)  fantasy, children’s literature and nonsense verse
  • Peake’s influence (from Moorcock and Miéville to mannerpunk)
  • creative responses to Peake’s work in both literature and the visual arts

It is planned to publish a selection of the conference papers.

Please submit abstracts (max. 300 words) for papers not exceeding 20 minutes (with 10 minutes for discussion). For other kinds of presentation, for example creative responses to Peake’s work (both visual and literary),  please send a sample, rather than an abstract. All proposals must be received by 14 January 2011.

For further details, including the proposal submission form, please see the conference website at: http://www.chiuni.ac.uk/english/MervynPeakeConference.cfm.

There are some fascinating connections between Mervyn Peake and Stevenson. Sebastian Peake has noted that ‘Treasure Island was the first book my father read, and loved, given him by his father.’ Some of Peake’s best illustrations are of Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde; these are to be shown at the exhibitions accompanying the conference.

Written by Anthony Mandal

22/12/2010 at 9:25 pm

News from the volume editors: St Ives

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by Glenda Norquay

The parts played by Stevenson’s friends, as editors and business negotiators, particularly after his death, was one area of focus in my recent research trip to Princeton and to the Beinecke Library at Yale working on St Ives.

Baxter takes on American publishers and gives it to them straight
One of the unexpectedly fascinating aspects of this research has been the complicated publishing history of the material, with American and British publishers wrangling over book publication and serial rights, a debate made difficult not just by Stevenson’s death but also by the ‘disappointment’ (to put it mildly) of Charles Scribner at The Ebb-Tide going to Stone & Kimball and their claim to have rights to future works.

Scribner’s had been Stevenson’s publishers since 1885, when Stevenson had been delighted at receiving any money at all from US sales. He was, however, disappointed at sales of The Wrecker in 1893 in the US (where it had sold about a third of the number sold in the UK) and suspected them, with Baxter’s encouragement,  of dishonesty or incompetence. He therefore made Baxter his business manager and asked him to get the best offer for future items.

The Americans are highly suspicious of Charles Baxter and his deal-making. And perhaps with some justification: in a letter of July 1894 he writes to RLS: ‘There is no being sentimental with American publishers […] If you want their respect, you must “do” them, and they will think you real smart’. Cultural differences and prejudice, combined with the need for income to keep Vailima going, seem to have created a difficult situation.

Colvin’s helpful ideas for a historical novel
Colvin is not exactly a business intermediary (Baxter had warned Stevenson in February 1893 that Colvin ‘is not much use at selling’) but becomes the more acceptable face of Stevenson’s representatives to the Americans. Colvin’s role, however, is more than a mediator. His contribution to St Ives includes the suggestion: ‘Couldn’t you let Scott walk across the stage in one or other of your 1812 novels? Also I want Boney, why not, in St Ives.’ (1 Dec 1893) Stevenson doesn’t seem to have been too enthusiastic about the Napoleon suggestion but a cameo of Scott provides one of the book’s most memorable chapters.

Colvin, Quiller-Couch and the conclusion of St Ives
It was also Colvin who negotiated the ‘Conclusion’ to the novel, first approaching Conan Doyle who declined by asserting ‘I’d as soon think of putting a new act on to Hamlet’ (n.d.) then working with Arthur Quiller-Couch.

The extended correspondence over the ending, which Quiller-Couch was working on while chapters were appearing in the Pall Mall Magazine, shows Colvin as recipient of all ‘Q’s anxieties over the impossibility of the ending apparently planned by Stevenson. The correspondence between them is an unusual one, in that Colvin is an editor of the material, responsible for the revisions that went to the publisher, while Quiller-Couch is both author and a reader. So in April 1897 he notes that: ‘I have just read the May installment in the P.M.M. [chapters 19–21] Alain doesn’t work out as I had expected—or perhaps a very bad illustration has something to do with it. At any rate I had expected a grander air with him and more gusto in his villainy.’

Colvin’s editorial role is also an important one, although he is dismayed to find that revision notes incorporated in the English version by Heinemann did not reach Scribner in time for the American edition. It is, nevertheless, his approved version of the novel that dominated for over a hundred years.

Work continues
Of Quiller-Couch’s role in shaping the ending, of the mystery of the American Privateer and of my first encounter with the 800 manuscript pages for St Ives, more to follow.

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