The Meaningful Magic of Manuscripts

Earthly Powers ManuscriptIn his 1979 lecture to the Manuscripts Group of the Standing Conference of National and University Libraries (SCONUL), Philip Larkin described the two types of value of a literary manuscript: ‘the magical value and the meaningful value. The magical value is the older, more universal: this is the paper he wrote on, these are the words as he wrote them […] The meaningful value is of much more recent origin, and is the degree to which a manuscript helps to enlarge our knowledge and understanding of a writer’s work’. Manuscripts gain these values from myriad sources, from their textual content to their physical, tactile nature and even their journey through history. Continue reading

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