Incomprehensible Handwriting of the Greats

By Communications Office Tue, February 12, 2008

While deciphering handwritten manuscripts, letters, and journals may challenge fewer and fewer editors as we move forward into the age of new media , there’s still plenty of head-scratching going on in the present day with regard to the notebooks et al. left behind by the greats of bygone eras. In an article published in Slate last week--with a focus on an edition of Robert Frost’s personal notebooks published last year--Megan Marshall writes, “When you're reduced to ‘counting humps,’ as documentary editors refer to those moments of despair when they find themselves decoding words letter by letter, you know you’re in trouble .”

Critics charge that editor Robert Faggen's The Notebooks of Robert Frost attributes to the poet (pictured here in 1941) hundreds, if not thousands, of mistranscribed words.
Critics charge that editor Robert Faggen's The Notebooks of Robert Frost attributes to the poet (pictured here in 1941) hundreds, if not thousands, of mistranscribed words.

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