Monday, February 26, 2007

Textual Revisions as a key to understanding

A wonderful piece on NPR yesterday discusses reading redacted manuscripts as a way to understanding texts in an interview with Willard Spiegelmann, English Professor at SMU. Elizabeth Bishop's poem "One Art," for example, went through 15 drafts beginning not as a vilanelle (which is how it ended) but as notes on loosing things, titled "The Art of Loosing Things." The genesis of the poem, articulating the personal loss of a lover, is what later drafts return to. What we see is the history of a work, its creative process, and perhaps even embryonic genius at work.

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