Charles Dickens vs. the Historians
A team at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London has discovered a new technology which allows researchers to remove crossed out sections and corrections of a writer’s manuscript. This allows the researcher to better see the writer’s original process and how they shaped their prose as they wrote.
The first story which the Victoria & Albert team worked on, for their pilot project, was Charles Dickens’ Christmas story The Chimes; and although they didn’t reveal anything jaw-dropping in this manuscript, the team showed exactly how we will be able to see into the thought processes of history’s most revered writers, even those who have left us decades ago.
In The Chimes, the tests showed for example that the published sentence – “Years … are like Christians in that respect” – originally read: “Years … are like men in one respect.”
Dr Schweizer said: “Why did he make that change? Quite a change. Literary scholars will ask themselves those questions.”
Rowan Watson, a senior curator at the V&A, described Dr Christie-Miller’s technology as “ingenious and inspiring”. The manuscripts show Dickens “almost thinking aloud on to paper,” he said.
From The Independent.