Friday, December 6, 2013

A manuscript page of Max Beerbohm

A good example of the appearance of Max Beerbohm's journalistic copy. About 250 words, part of an article published in The Academy and Literature in February 1902. An essay called 'A Needed Noun' (Max wanted a word for 'a writer of prose.')  The large jet black corrections are the most striking element. In the book Some Piquant People Lincoln Springfield describes this style thus: 'A mere crossing out was not enough. Everything to be taken out, whether it was one line or thirty, was obliterated to utter annihilation by deluges of ink, put on apparently with a brush giving his MSS the look of islands of words in the midst of seas of blinding blue black.'


The article itself (never reprinted) is a plea for more lyrical prose - he mentions Pater, Ruskin, Stevenson and Newman but feels that 'the full glory of prose as a medium for beauty was not realised by them...' The article is amusing and is the product of 'intercalary reflections' or, as it turns out, browsing Mr Nuttall's dictionary looking for a word that defines a writer of prose.  He rejects the word 'proser' and the nearest word he can find is a 'prosaist.'  Nuttall defines this as 'a prose writer' but, to the divine Max's chagrin, adds: '...one who cannot rise above prose.'

1 comment:

  1. Eye to Future (ETF)December 7, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    Looks like a page from Tom Phillipps's treated novel A HUMUMENT!

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