Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting

Iron Whim: A Fragmented History of Typewriting

by Darren Wershler-Henry
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0771089252

ISBN-13: 2900771089250

Pub. Date: 12/13/2005

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart Ltd.

The Iron Whim is an intelligent, irreverent, and humorous history of writing culture and technology. It covers the early history and evolution of the typewriter as well as the various attempts over the years to change the keyboard configuration, but it is primarily about the role played by this marvel in the writer's life. Darren Wershler-Henry populates his book with

Overview

The Iron Whim is an intelligent, irreverent, and humorous history of writing culture and technology. It covers the early history and evolution of the typewriter as well as the various attempts over the years to change the keyboard configuration, but it is primarily about the role played by this marvel in the writer's life. Darren Wershler-Henry populates his book with figures as disparate as Bram Stoker, Mark Twain, Franz Kafka, Norman Mailer, Alger Hiss, William Burroughs, J. G. Ballard, Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, Northrop Frye, David Cronenberg, and David Letterman; the soundtrack ranges from the industrial clatter of a newsroom full of Underwoods to the more muted tapping and hum of the Selectric. Wershler-Henry casts a bemused eye on the odd history of early writing machines, important and unusual typewritten texts, the creation of On the Road, and the exploits of a typewriting cockroach named Archy, numerous monkeys, poets, and even a couple of vampires. He gathers into his narrative typewriter-related rumors and anecdotes (Henry James became so accustomed to dictating his novels to a typist that he required the sound of a randomly operated typewriter even to begin to compose). And by broadening his focus to look at typewriting as a social system as well as the typewriter as a technological form, he examines the fascinating way that the tool has actually shaped the creative process.With engaging subject matter that ranges over two hundred years of literature and culture in English, The Iron Whim builds on recent interest in books about familiar objects and taps into our nostalgia for a method of communication and composition that has all but vanished.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2900771089250
Publisher:
McClelland & Stewart Ltd.
Publication date:
12/13/2005
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
344

Table of Contents


Introduction: Ghosts and Machines     1
Archaeology: Beginning at the End     9
Conclusion: Royal Road Test     10
The Archive of Typewriting     16
Typewriter Nostalgia     22
Assembly: Typewriting's First Impressions     33
Writing the Truth     34
Writing Blind     45
Clockwork Boys and Piano Keys     52
The Last of the "Firsts"     61
Amanuensis: Typewriting and Dictation     73
Taking Dictation     74
The Typewriter Between     78
Transylvanian Typing     81
The Type-Writer Girl     85
Remington Priestesses     95
Burroughs     105
Nothing Is True; Everything Is Permitted     110
Channelling Burroughs     118
Authority: Typewriting as Discipline     133
Pen Slavery     134
Therbligs     144
QWERTY     152
Dvorak (or, In the Navy)     158
The Poet's Stave and Bar     166
Typewriting, Identity, and Truth     177
The Monkeys     186
Barnyard Politics     200
Not an Especially Bright Dog     205
Under difficulties semi colon     211
Bourgeois Paper-Bangers     218
Acceleration: Typewriting and Speed     221
Rail Road Test     222
Ten Fingers Talk     231
On the (Royal) Road     238
Typewriters at War     245
Electrification and the End of the Grid     253
Epilogue: The Typewriter in the Garden     257
Aftermath: Typewriting After the Typewriter     259
Acknowledgements     291
Permissions     292
Notes     293
Index     324

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