Samuel Beckett
Digital Manuscript Project


This is the Manual as it was published on 01/09/2013. The document has since been updated for the publication of the third module: Krapp's Last Tape / La Dernière Bande (November 2015). Click here to go back to the updated version..
This manual is organized according to the items in the main menu of the first module of the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project, the electronic edition of Stirrings Still / Soubresauts. Features in this manual not applied in L'Innommable / The Unnamable have a grey background.

1. Documents

In the menu, the heading 'documents' contains the following options:
  • a catalogue: a survey (and short description) of the documents (each MS number is clickable and linked to the corresponding transcript);
  • a pageflip reconstruction of notebooks (MS 2934 for Stirrings Still / Soubresauts and MS 3316/1 for Comment dire / what is the word).
  • facsimiles: scanned images of the documents;
  • topographic transcriptions: a graphic representation of the documents (respecting the layout of the pages);
  • linear transcriptions: a textual representation of the documents (always linked to the relevant facsimile by means of a thumbnail);
  • image / text feature: a combination of the facsimile of a page and its linear transcription, by means of clickable zones on the image. The main text is segmented into zones of no more than 8 lines. Doodles, marginal additions, dates, titles and metamarks are also individually clickable.

2. Chronology

The intricate composition process of the work is charted in a genetic map. The transcriptions of the documents can be accessed by clicking on the corresponding archive numbers. Although the catalogue numbers reflect the chronology of versions,[1] some documents (in Stirrings Still / Soubresauts notably the 'Super Conquérant' Notebook, UoR MS 2934) contain more than one version of a particular passage. The versions in this document are not successive, since Beckett made alternate use of this notebook and loose sheets of paper. In the case of Beckett's penultimate text, the writing of the three sections that eventually became Stirrings Still (sections 1, 2, and 3) was preceded by three abandoned sections. To distinguish them, the abandoned sections are identified by a zero preceding the number ('before Stirrings Still', sections 01, 02, and 03).
In other modules (for instance L'Innommable / The Unnamable) the chronology is more straightforward and is visualized in the Genetic Map.

3. Compare versions

The versions of those parts of the genesis that made it into the base text can be arranged in chronological order and compared in three different sizes, as the example of Stirrings Still illustrates: Large (the section); Medium (the paragraph); Small (the sentence).

3.1. Sentences/Segments (Small)

All the versions of each sentence or segment can be presented in vertical juxtaposition, starting from any version of the text: each sentence or segment that made it into the base text is preceded by an icon (a grey bullet in Stirrings Still / Soubresauts and Comment dire / what is the word) or a sentence number (in L'Innommable / The Unnamable); by clicking on the icon or number preceding a particular sentence or segment its composition history can be viewed in vertical juxtaposition. If a document only contains sentences that did not make it into the base text, this is made explicit at the top of the page.
Every version is preceded by two buttons. Two versions can be compared in parallel presentation by means of the buttons corresponding to the texts of your choice: the left-hand button will place the corresponding text in a left-hand frame, the right-hand button in the right-hand frame.
By choosing e.g. the left button next to the first version, and the right button next to the last version the textual evolution of this one sentence can be viewed at a glance by clicking on the 'parallel version comparison' button at the bottom of the page (which will show both versions in parallel presentation).
In the box under "Synoptic Sentence View" the last line reads: "To compare all English versions of this sentence with CollateX, click here." This link lets the third party software program "CollateX" perform a collation of all versions.[2] The result is a table in which the versions are aligned and the variation highlighted.
In Stirrings Still, the first module, the CollateX integration was rather basic, but in L'Innommable CollateX is fully embedded within the edition, allowing users to compare both English and French versions, to determine which versions they wish to compare and go to the relevant scanned page of any version.
(only applied in Stirrings Still/Soubresauts and Comment dire/ what is the word)

3.2. Paragraphs (Medium)

For the synoptic paragraph view, a similar procedure can be followed, starting from any version of the text: each paragraph is preceded by an icon (a grey bullet); by clicking on the icon preceding a particular paragraph, its complete composition history can be viewed.

3.3. Sections (Large)

The same procedure can be followed to compare versions of a whole section.
> section 1
> section 2
> section 3
(only applied in Stirrings Still/Soubresauts and Comment dire/ what is the word)

4. Language

This option facilitates examination of either
(a) all French drafts or
(b) all English drafts exclusively. Some French versions are originally written in French, whereas others are translations.
(c) Early translations can be visualized separately, facing the version on which they are based (in parallel presentation).
(d) Bilingual comparison: this option highlights mismatches between the English and French versions. Translation variants are marked in blue. The absence of a word or phrase vis-à-vis the text in the other language is visualized by means of a vertical bar |.

5. Tools

The 'Tools' section in the main menu presents four different visualizations of the internal composition history of each document:

5.1. Default transcription

This default visualization indicates cancellations with strike-through; additions in superscript; additions on the facing leaf in green.

5.2. Place indications

This more detailed visualization explicitly mentions the place of an addition (e.g. place = supralinear, when a word is added above the line).

5.3. Writing tools

This option explicitly mentions the writing tools Beckett used for cancellations and additions. Aditions and deletions are presented in the colour of the writing tools with which Samuel Beckett has made them: e.g. black ink, pencil, red ink.

5.4. Top layer

A reading text of the undeleted parts of the draft.

5.5. Metamarks On/Off

The manuscript pages contain a number of features that are not part of the text itself. These so-called metamarks are introduced by the author to indicate how the text will have to be pieced together when it is copied in the next version. For instance, two corresponding instances of the letter 'A' indicate where an addition is to be inserted.

5.6. XML Encoding

The XML encoding of all primary source materials can be accessed from this link.

5.7. Notes On/Off

Notes are indicated by means of an icon with a boxed N. Clicking on the icon makes the note appear in a pop-up box. This option can be switched off in the 'Tools' section of the menu.

6. Search

The search engine offers full-text searches of all the transcriptions and notes. The results appear within the context of the sentence in which the search string was found, with the search string highlighted. Searches can also be finetuned to include only occurrences within the two most prominent features of manuscripts: additions and deletions. The search engine makes use of the eXist XML retrieval engine (
As an extra, a number of potentially interesting searches are suggested, such as 'intertextual references', 'doodles', 'metamarks' or 'transpositions'. They can be run by selecting them from the dropdown menu under 'Suggested searches'. The search for 'Intertextual references', for instance, calls up allusions to passages by such authors as Shakespeare and Dante (and corresponding annotations).


[1] Only the chronology of UoR MSS 2935/3/11, 2935/3/12, 2935/3/10 and 2935/3/9 differs slightly from the order suggested by the archive numbers.
[2] As part of the InterEdition Project, CollateX is a Java-based collation software package that can be used to produce a critical apparatus for digital editions. <>