A digital edition of Virginia Woolf’s short fiction ‘Ode written partly in prose on seeing the name of cutbush above a butcher’s shop in Pentonville’ that emerged from the work of the AHRC funded New Modernist Editing Network.
Page 2 of the 'Ode' showing the facsimile and transcription with both original and edited text visible.
See also the New Modernist Editing website at https://newmodernistediting.glasgow.ac.uk/. Virginia Woolf’s ‘Ode written partly in prose on seeing the name of cutbush above a butcher’s shop in Pentonville’ was never published in her lifetime. The only version we have of the text is the typescript, with emendations in Virginia Woolf’s hand (some in pencil and some in black ink), images of which are displayed in this digital edition. The typescript is held in the Monks House Papers of the University of Sussex, reference number SxMs-18/2/B/B.9/F.
Unusually, we know the precise date of some of these revisions as Woolf wrote 'October 28th 1934' in black ink in the top left hand corner of the first page of the typescript. To date is has been published only once, in Susan Dick’s The Complete Shorter Fiction of Virginia Woolf (London: Hogarth Press, 1985; rev. edn. 1989).
There is little in Woolf’s diaries or letters to provide any information about the circumstances of the composition of this text. She had finished the first full draft of the novel that was to be published in 1937 as The Years on 30th September 1934, and was feeling the exhaustion and, to some extent, depression that often accompanied the completion of a large work. The only hints at what might have prompted her to write this piece are two allusions from around the same time, one in her diary and one in a latter, to the pleasure she got from walking around London and imagining the lives of those she sees and overhears – a pleasure that sustained her through much of her life.
This digital edition emerged from the work of the AHRC funded New Modernist Editing Network. The Network was established to bring together academics, publishers and book artists concerned with the issues arising from the editing of modernist texts – broadly speaking, experimental works from the early twentieth century. All the major modernist editions currently underway are represented by its membership – an unprecedented coming together of key editors in the field. But the involvement of those from outwith academia, and with various levels and types of editorial experience, was also crucial to achieving the Network’s aims. The approach to producing the digital edition of Woolf’s ‘Ode’ was discussed and workshopped at two of the three meetings of the Network, in February and April 2017.
This digital edition is, then, a collaborative effort which draws on the discussions, debates and insights enabled by the Network. The desire was to produce a text which was dynamic and which could allow the user to see the effects of the many choices that an editor has to make in deciding how to approach an edition of a text. In particular, digital technologies permitted us to resist deciding on a ‘final’ text, and instead leave the reader to play with the level of editorial intervention visible on the screen.
Project website: https://nme-digital-ode.glasgow.ac.uk/