Paper&Carriage no.3: Henry Darger

October 23, 2008

In the third issue of Paper & Carriage (pub. GLPress/threewalls), we had the honor of publishing some of Henry Darger’s writing, in conjunction with some of the images used in the Folk Art Museum show “Dargerism.” It’s a really stunning issue, actually, full of goodies, including some drawings by Daniel Johnston, an original CD of other people’s mantras by Sherri Lynn Wood and an inserted artist multiple by Carmen Price. At any rate, I thought I’d post the Darger stuff, along with the some of the Dargerism images. If any of you have any interest in picking up a copy, you cand so here. Printed in a limited editon of 250, they are $18/piece. At any rate, over the course of the day, I’m going to post three of the Darger excerpts. You can see what you think-

posted by Caroline Picard

Ash Wednesday by Anthony Goicolea

Ash Wednesday by Anthony Goicolea

A Note on the Text

Henry Darger wrote in a large, legible script. At first glance, one would deem it child-like, but the similarities in the letters and their even spacing are not those of someone just learning how to write. Rather, I would describe his handwriting as determined. If the letters do not take shape smoothly, it is not due to unfamiliarity with their form: it is because he wrote slowly, with force, plotting out each word in advance.
And yet, despite its clarity, there were choices to be made. There are misspellings, of course (some of them rather interesting: machenry for machinery, for instance, or prime instead of prim), but no more than can be expected in a handwritten manuscript several thousand pages long. There are inconsistencies in capitalization (Second World war) and marks floating just above and below the lines of notebook paper that could serve as commas, periods, or apostrophes (though never all three simultaneously). I would like to have printed a faithful reproduction of Darger’s own notebooks, with strikes through the mistakes he crossed out and all the misspelled place names intact, but in the end I decided to err on the side of readability. This should serve as an introduction to a vast archive of materials that are only now coming to light; as such, it would be a shame to litter the page with brackets, footnotes and strikethroughs.
I have corrected a number of misspelled words, capitalized where needed but, all in all, I have left the writing as it is. Stains on the manuscript obscured the few words you will find in brackets: these are my guesses as to what they may be. The titles of the selections were not chosen by the author, but were taken directly from the text.
Special thanks to Michael Bonesteel for for facsimiles of the original manuscript, and to Kiyoko Lerner for allowing us to publish these selections.

N.S.
March 2008

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