This old home still stands in the Queensland bush. But for how long? Perhaps it was a new home for a farming family when Such is Life was published. In addition to my posts to this blog, I’ve started a collection of images on Flickr that are closely related to the concerns of a scholarly editor considering how to deal with literary artefacts from the past. This is inspired by Paul Eggert’s excellent book, Securing the Past: Conservation in Art, Architecture and Literature and the disappearance or degradation of landmarks that have been a part of my life for much longer than Such is Life. For a long time, I thought that the old butcher shop in Mt Alford would stand forever.
A few months ago I took this photo to remind me of the small town near where I grew up. In some ways I suppose I was creating a facsimile of something real that I passed every time I went to town. I don’t know how long the shop has stood in this position. I have no memory of it operating.
But time caught up with the shop recently. I don’t know exactly what happened. The building was used to store equipment of all sorts. Perhaps somebody pulled the door too hard one too many times and the internal structure finally gave up. Whatever happened, a landmark in the lives of many people is changed forever. A trace will remain with foundations and fragments of the original building, but the building itself will no longer catch the eye … except in the imagination of those who knew it. Approximating the text of Joseph Furphy’s 1897 Typescript from its partial remains provides similar challenges and requires a good imagination to bring the fragments together to infer something that no longer exists as a material artefact. That is one of the goals of this project, one that will require a strong argument to convince readers that a legitimate text is available to them. The argument for this will be thrashed out in these posts, but it will find a more stable form in my “Textual History” page. Don’t look there just yet. I’ve got a lot of preliminary work to do. I’ll say more about that in my next post.