Dennis Duncan

Dennis Duncan is the author of Index, A History of the. He teaches at UCL.

‘Si tu t’imagines,’ Juliette Gréco sang. ‘If you imagine.’ It was her first time singing in public, on 22 June 1949, at the Boeuf sur le Toit cabaret, the beginning of her seven-decade reign as the first lady of French chanson. Both the venue and the song were selected by Gréco’s unlikely svengali, Jean-Paul Sartre. François Mauriac, three...

‘This short film is an experiment designed to use the medium of the screen to create for the eye an impression comparable to that experienced by the ear.’ While the caption scrolls upwards, a soprano sings from Karol Szymanowski’s Słopiewnie cycle. This is The Eye and the Ear (1944), produced by the Polish Film Unit, which operated out of London in the later years of the...

From The Blog
3 February 2015

The past decade has been a strange one for the Oulipo. For most of its existence, the Parisian literary collective has been, if not quite clandestine, then hardly in the spotlight. A rare survivor from the avant-garde movements of the last century, the Oulipo’s mission has always been to explore the possibilities of ‘constrained writing’, as in Georges Perec’s novel La Disparition, which avoids any use of the letter e. Unlike some of its antecedents, bound up with the revolutionary politics of the early 20th century, the Oulipo has never set out to change the world; rather, a certain retiring bonhomie – perhaps a reaction to its co-founder Raymond Queneau’s time in the fractiousness of the Surrealist movement of the 1920s – has been written into its structures from the outset.

From The Blog
30 January 2014

As the Cambridge Edition of Virginia Woolf’s fiction slowly unfurls, this year will see the publication of Mrs Dalloway. It follows Anna Snaith’s edition of The Years (2012), which nestles Woolf’s 393-page novel in 600 pages of scholarly material: explanatory notes (144 pages), textual apparatus (220 pages), textual notes (50 pages), maps, chronologies, lists of illustrations, abbreviations, archival sources and editorial symbols, a bibliography and an (excellent) introduction. One paratext the Cambridge series doesn’t have, however, is an index.

Fake it till you make it: Indexing

Anthony Grafton, 23 September 2021

The index gave its users formidable power to find and quote adages and examples, narratives and poems, scriptural and patristic texts, whether or not they had actually read the full works they cited. That...

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