Ulrika Maude – Fellowship Recipient

Ulrika Maude – Fellowship Recipient

So these manuscripts become like sort of art objects. They have a strange kind of aura about them. It is a bit like seeing the Mona Lisa or something, you know that this is unique and this is the only copy of its kind. It’s here, and you can see the different colors: he used crayons, he colored in his doodles, and so forth. That is one of the nice things, actually, about working at the Harry Ransom Center, because in many archives all you get is either a microfilm, or you get a photocopy of the manuscript. But here you get the actual original manuscript with all the contextures, and all the colors, and maybe even the stains on them and things like that. But it is just wonderful, and there is something very special about having that privileged access to that kind of material. This material really has a kind of aura about it, a kind of uniqueness, You spend ten minutes trying to decipher a passage of difficult handwriting and then suddenly you get it. And it is hilarious. And you hear other scholars as well laughing. Every now and then someone just kind of giggles with delight and, you know, something absolutely hilarious emerges. Even the handwriting I find is actually easier to decipher when you have the original manuscript. It is much harder when it is a photocopy or a microfilm, because one, you lose the colors. You lose the kind of sense of, this is quite important, actually, the different pens, the different kinds of ink because that gives you an idea as well of when the changes might have been made, that something was written first, then comes a different pen, and then that is crossed out again. You get a kind of better sense of the development of the genealogy, as it were, and the evolution of the text. It is strange. One does feel kind of slightly strange when one walks out of the reading room, but it is worth it.

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