More from the Lilly

It’s very exciting to work with these proofs to Mrs. Dalloway. The only marks on them are a few pencil marks by Harcourt--and these are mostly notations of where each new galley begins--, stamps from R. & R. Clark (date stamps scattered throughout the proofs, from 13-19 Jan., presumably the number of days it took from them to create the proofs), and Woolf’s many corrections.

So there is something incredibly intimate in poring over these pages with care. It feels very, very lucky.

And wonderful that anyone with a picture i-d who comes to Bloomington can do the same.

As I’ve confessed here before, this textual editing--the painstaking combing and comparing of one edition, one version, against another--is new to me. Now, I have a notebook full of dozens of annotations like this:
  • 147.11 to Septimus; ] to Om.
  • 147.12 mankind, ] ~;
This means that on page 147 in the eleventh line, the proofs read “to Septimus;” and Woolf crossed out “Septimus;” and that, in the next line, Woolf replaced a comma with a semicolon. That first change seems really weird, but a little more context clears it up: “So they returned to Septimus; the most exalted of mankind” became “So they returned to the most exalted of mankind.” I’m not sure which I prefer, but I can see appeal of the sleeker revision.

Madness, right?

Except that, like lots of things when you do them intensely, it grows riveting and meaningful, so, by 4:00 in the afternoon, I’m like a crazy person, muttering “Oh! that’s interesting!” upon finding an em-dash changed to a parentheses.

Well, it is interesting. I’ll try to explain some other time.