The Typewriter Century: A Cultural History of Writing Practices
Published: February 2021© 2021
276 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 0.75 in, 13 b&w illustrations
This book captures the intensity of the relationship between writers and their typewriters from the 1880s, when the machine was first commercialized, to the 1980s, when word-processing superseded it. Drawing on examples from the United States, Britain, Europe, and Australia, The Typewriter Century focuses on "celebrity writers," including Henry James, Jack Kerouac, Agatha Christie, Georges Simenon, and Erle Stanley Gardner, who wrote prolifically and mechanically, developing routines in which typing, handwriting, and dictation were each allotted important functions.
The typewriter de-personalized the text; the office typewriter bureaucratized it. At the same time, some authors found a new and disturbing distance between themselves and their compositions while others believed the typewriter facilitated spontaneous and automatic typing. The Typewriter Century provides a cultural history of the typewriter, outlining the ways in which it can be considered an agent of change as well as demonstrating how it influenced all writers, canonical and otherwise.
List of Illustrations
1. Introduction: The Typewriter as an Agent of Change?
2. The Birth of the Typosphere
3. Modernity and the Typewriter Girl
4. The Modernist Typewriter
5. The Distancing Effect: The Hand, the Eye, the Voice
6. The Romantic Typewriter
7. Manuscript and Typescript
8. Georges Simenon: The Man in the Glass Cage
9. Erle Stanley Gardner: The Fiction Factory
10. Domesticating the Typewriter
11. The End of the Typewriter Century and Post-Digital Nostalgia
"The Typewriter Century convincingly brings together currently segregated strands of research on print technology, modernist style in terms of formalist literary criticism, and authorship informed by the rise of cultural studies. Martyn Lyons has a longstanding reputation in the history of reading and writing practices, and his case studies are supported with meticulous archival research."~Shafquat Towheed, The Open University
"One has to admit that the typewriter can be traced in every single country with different sources everywhere. Provoking the reader’s mindset, this book is informative, well written, and original. Students in literature, communication studies, media studies, and book studies will appreciate this book a lot – for the typewriter is an anomaly to them."~Lisa Kuitert, University of Amsterdam