Pink Erasure Spoors and Worn Out Ink Ribbons

This is J.G. Ballard’s first manuscript page for his groundbreaking novel “Crash”. Interesting how he crosses his own edits out, presumably after he has added or not added them to his next draft. I think it is fountain pen ink. Some stuff is typewriter “XXXXX”d out. Old school proofreading abbreviation “STET” ( short for the Latin, statum, let it stand). This is known technically as an obelism and is a meta-instruction not to the reader, but to the typesetter to ignore the ‘correction’ or to let it stand.

Hard to believe that reading this marked up mess was once the province of an editor working with the physical production of a manuscript. That is what is so amazing to me: how physical the act of writing, editing, and printing text used to be. You can even see how Ballard’s fingers are stronger on some keys than others and that, perhaps, he needs to clean out the typebars. His letters definitely need a cleaning and he needs a new ribbon (or he could just reverse it). The hardware for doing this page is just extraordinary. Below is an image of a Smith-Corona whose parts pages are here.



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