Pomenvylopes

Mark Ford

  • BuyThe Gorgeous Nothings by Emily Dickinson
    New Directions, 255 pp, £26.50, October 2013, ISBN 978 0 8112 2175 7
  • BuyThe Marvel of Biographical Bookkeeping by Francis Nenik, translated by Katy Derbyshire
    Readux, 64 pp, £3.00, October 2013, ISBN 978 3 944801 00 1

Until quite recently, paper played a crucial role in the composition, and transmission to posterity, of most poems in English: they were written down on paper, or antecedents such as parchment or vellum, or typed on it, and then printed in pamphlets, newspapers, magazines or books. Computers and digitisation have changed all that: the poemhunter.com version of ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’ that floats on our screens may reproduce exactly the same words as printed editions of Keats, but while reading it we are no longer engaging with a material object that is linked to a series of earlier material versions of the poem, all deriving from the impress of pencil, pen or type on paper.

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[*] Susan Eilenberg reviewed Lyndall Gordon’s book in the LRB of 30 June 2011.