With the generous support of the 2011 Nancy Keesing Fellowship, this project seeks to prepare a comprehensive textual history of Joseph Furphy’s Such is Life and work towards an electronic scholarly edition.
Submitted to the Bulletin as a long, handwritten manuscript, Such is Life evolved through several periods of revision as it was prepared for publication. Acting on the advice of A. G. Stephens, Furphy delivered a typescript of the novel that he prepared himself. Still considered too long for publication, Stephens convinced Furphy to remove two chapters that were subsequently published as Rigby’s Romance and The Buln Buln and the Brolga. Furphy replaced these chapters with two shorter ones and the revised Such is Life was eventually published by the Bulletin Publishing Company in 1903.
The evolution of Furphy’s books has been discussed in a number of excellent studies, but the documents have so far escaped rigorous examination by a textual critic. In this study the texts will be transcribed and collated using the latest technology. The results of this collation and subsequent analysis will support an ‘Essay on the Text’ with an editorial rationale that introduces an electronic edition of Joseph Furphy’s Such is Life. This edition will serve as the foundation for a comprehensive resource for teachers, students and general readers who wish to engage with one of the most important works in Australia’s literary history.