Friday, 28 August 2009


What follows is the mission statement of, a collaborative writing project, or perhaps, concept, that sounds very interesting, even if I haven't got the foggiest what it might actually achieve:

One author can write a classic, but what could a thousand working together achieve? If serves no other purpose than to answer this simple question, then so be it. welcomes everyone. On any page (including this one) you can be an author, an editor, a reader and a critic—you can even view a detailed log of ALL previous changes to EVERY page, and compare any point in its history to any other.

Have you been thinking of a great idea for a story, but for one reason or another you have not developed it? Post it—who knows, maybe someone will write the first chapter! Best of all, if the idea turns out to be a big hit, the proof of your invention and any contribution toward it remain for the whole world to see.

We are excited to see what materializes in these next few weeks and months. is a tool for writing collaboratively and on a scale unprecedented, but will it produce masterpieces and enrich our own and future generations? Well, not necessarily. The only certain thing is that a golden opportunity awaits.

We wish you the best of luck writing, editing, reading, criticizing, and exploring this exciting new chapter in our written art. Please, after viewing the copyright page, help us by uploading existing classics so we can watch their new forms unfold. (Sorry Mr. Shakespeare, this applies to everyone.)

See you on the field,

Philip Miner


* * * *

Things have been quiet on miglior-acque lately as I'm writing furiously, or often I'm just furious as I write. I'm trying to get a MS finished and off to the publishers and have been feeling too guilty to blog. Last week I was away at the beautiful wedding of Cris and Shane in Chicago and I just loved the city. While there I took a quick trip to the University of Chicago Library (the Special Collections Research Center in the Regenstein Library to be precise) where I looked at a Boccaccio manuscript. It was such a pleasurable experience. A very helpful librarian gave me the manuscript and directed me to a comfortable reading room where she got on with her work and was friendly and helpful when I needed her. I say this because I've been working in another library over this summer, in the manuscripts department, and the experience is one of utter despair and heartbreak. I've never had a MS consultation so micromanaged before. Even consulting the modern printed books from the shelves is a huge task in itself. When I wanted to use a UV lamp, I realized I'd just asked for a liver transplant. Get me back to the UL quick! While in Chicago I visited Powell's books and was very pleased with what I found. A great stock of medieval books. I had to be restrained needless to say, the bags were not going to take it well when having to be stuffed with books (and they travel badly really). I picked up a copy of Pace & David's Variorum edition of the Minor Poems (Part One), as well as Jody Enders, Rhetoric and the Origins of Medieval Drama and Paolo Valesio, Novantiqua, which I tried to read about ten years ago and couldn't understand a word of it. It actually looks rather interesting. I've been picking up some nice things here in Dublin too. Like Richard Kearney's Wake of Imagination, which I'm enjoying though suspect when he gets onto the medieval stuff I'll be tutting; Peter Burke, The European Renaissance: Centres and Peripheries, which looks excellent; and Umberto Galimberti, Gli equivoci dell'anima. A certain distinguished professor has been streamlining his bookshelves after retirement in Cambridge and I've been picking them up. I was really delighted to pick up Panofsky's Abbot Suger and Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism, as well as some other medieval art stuff (such as a lovely copy of Kathleen Scott, The Caxton Master and His Patron). There's been a good amount of middle English stuff about too and I've been so happy to get F. P. Pickering, Literature and Art in the Middle Ages, Offord's edition of the Parlement of the Thre Ages, Beadle's anthology of The York Plays (Arnold, 1982, and hard to find), Hodgson's edition of the Cloud of Unknowing (EETS), and Alexandra Barratt's lovely Longman anthology of Women's Writing in Middle English. But I was most pleased with Scattergood edition of The Poems of Sir John Clanvowe (Brewer, 1975). I love the way that it is set too, in a kind of typewriter typeface, there's a sense that it was done on Brewer's kitchen table and one can really imagine him saying the famous line he uttered to a young scholar in the Press's early days, the world needs this book but not many copies of it. One rarely sees s/h copies of Clanvowe around, so that's just marvellous.

Have also been enjoying the discussion over on In The Middle on the critique of prose that is seen to exclude, on creativity and on blogging and anonymity. All gives me a lash as I re-read every sentence and wonder who on earth will be reading any of it.

I can't go on, I'll go on.

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