_81467129_luckyjimIt seems a fairly odd type of performance art (if that’s what it is) but retyping a book in public is what Tim Youd does. He aims to retype a total of 100 novels, all in settings relevant to the original’s creation. He’s currently engaged in Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (in the New York Review Books edition as you can see from the picture). He works on the same model typewriter used by the original author and has a single sheet of paper only, typing over and over on the same page. The Guardian tells the story. They point out that Youd isn’t the first character to retype a book. At the most trivial level this doesn’t need saying, though all those Phillippino rekeying businesses are certainly not indulging in performance art. The Guardian focuses more appropriately on the artistic motivation for retyping, instancing Jorge Luis Borges’ creation Pierre Menard who set out to rewrite Don Quixote, recreating it but rejecting all versions which were not identical with the original. “Menard himself wrote that he worked under two constraints, allowing himself to try out textual variants of a formal or psychological nature but insisting on throwing away any that did not result in exactly the same wording as the Cervantes original.” He failed to complete “his” version. Although the words themselves were exactly the same, Menard’s fragmentary Quixote was judged to be “subtler than that of Cervantes”. This reminds me of Conrad’s assertion that Scott-Moncrieff’s translation of A la recherche du temps perdu was better than Proust’s version.

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