Samuel Beckett
Digital Manuscript Project

Series Preface

The Beckett Digital Manuscript Project is a collaboration between the Centre for Manuscript Genetics (University of Antwerp), the Beckett International Foundation (University of Reading) and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (University of Texas at Austin). The development of this project started from two initiatives: (1) the 'in-house' genetic edition of four works by Samuel Beckett (a cooperation between the Universities of Antwerp and Reading), and (2) the Series of Variorum Editions of Samuel Beckett's Bilingual Works, initiated in 1986 by Charles Krance, with the permission and support of Samuel Beckett. With the kind permission of the Estate of Samuel Beckett, these initiatives were developed into the Beckett Digital Manuscript Archive, which combines genetic criticism with electronic scholarly editing, applied to the study of Beckett's manuscripts.

The Beckett Digital Manuscript Project consists of two parts:

(a) a digital archive of Samuel Beckett's manuscripts, organized in 26 research modules. Each of these modules comprises digital facsimiles and transcriptions of all the extant manuscripts pertaining to an individual text, or in the case of shorter texts, a group of texts.

(b) a series of 26 volumes, analyzing the genesis of the texts contained in the corresponding modules.

The Beckett Digital Manuscript Project aims to contribute to the study of Beckett's works in various ways: by enabling readers to discover new documents and see how the dispersed manuscripts of different holding libraries interrelate within the context of a work's genesis in its entirety; by increasing the accessibility of the manuscripts with searchable transcriptions in an updatable digital archive; by highlighting the interpretive relevance of intertextual references that can be found in the manuscripts. The Project may also enhance the preservation of the physical documents as users will be able to work with digital facsimiles.

The purpose of the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project is to reunite the manuscripts of Samuel Beckett's works in a digital way, and to facilitate genetic research: the project brings together digital facsimiles of documents that are now preserved in different holding libraries, and adds transcriptions of Beckett's manuscripts, tools for bilingual and genetic version comparison, a search engine, and an analysis of the textual genesis of his works. The work on this project proceeds in a modular way. Once the electronic genetic edition of a work is completed, the accompanying analysis of the work's genesis is published in print with a selection of facsimile images.

Due to an agreement with the Estate of Samuel Beckett and the publishers of Beckett's work, the digital editions only contain draft versions leading up to the publication of the text (the so-called 'avant-texte'), including page proofs. It therefore excludes epigenetic material such as later annotated editions.

Dirk Van Hulle
Mark Nixon