The advances of book history and editorial theory remind us that it is vital to look behind the text we read. In this book Sukanta Chaudhuri explores, at a very fundamental level, how texts are constituted and how they work. He applies insights from many lines of study not brought together so closely before: theories of language, signification and reception alongside bibliography, textual criticism, editorial theory and book history. Blending case studies with general observation and theory, he considers the implications of the physical form of the text; the relation between oral and written language, and between language and other media; the new territory opened up by electronic texts; and special categories like play-books and translations. Drawing on an exceptionally wide range of material, both Western literature and Indian works from Sanskrit aesthetics to the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore, Chaudhuri sets a new agenda for the study of texts.
Sukanta Chaudhuri is Professor of English and Director of the School of Cultural Texts and Records at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India.
Preface; Introduction; Part I. General Metaphysics: 1. The heron in the water: textuality and the shapes of discourse; 2. The bounds of the text; 3. Adam's dream, Babel's curse; 4. The handkerchief and the cat; 5. The writer's hand, or the world, the text and the author; 6. The trajectories of texts; Part II. Special Territories: 7. Orality: yesterday, today and tomorrow; 8. Shakespeare and the book of the play; 9. Translation and displacement: the life and works of Pierre Menard; 10. Writing pictures, drawing words: the manuscript doodles of Rabindranath Tagore.