Beyond Sleep – a case study on textual instability and challenges for textual scholarship

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperScientific

Abstract

Although W.F. Hermans’ novel Nooit meer slapen (Beyond Sleep) has been published within the multi-volume Complete Works edition already in 2010, the work remains a challenge for textual scholarship. First published in 1966, it has been revised by the author many times. Next to that, the actual publication within the Complete Works, where it was compiled together with Hermans’ preceding novel De donkere kamer van Damokles (The Dark Room of Damocles) (1958), turned critical attention to the unreliable narration that took place in both novels, leading to new discussions and interpretations of Nooit meer slapen (Van Duijn 2010; Otterspeer 2015). As such it was a concrete example of Eggert’s observation that ‘[i]n and through [editorial and conservatory] activities, literary and artistic works continue to function – and function differently than before.’ (Eggert 2009: 108)

Within this context, there’s more to be told. Since 2015, a large part of Hermans’ remaining personal library has become available for editorial research, leading to fascinating insights into the ‘labyrinthine world of creation’ (Van Hulle 2013: xiii) of Hermans’ works. And earlier this year, a newly started cooperation between the Huygens Institute and the Dutch National Literary Museum (Literatuurmuseum.nl) resulted in an online exhibition of Nooit meer slapen, which again produced new insights in the creative process of writing this novel. Together with the recently released international movie Beyond Sleep and taking into account some recent translations of the novel, the history of Nooit meer slapen to its utmost shows that ‘the work is, unavoidably, always in process across time, and agents of production take their decisive roles in it.’ (Eggert 2009)

On the basis of Beyond Sleep, I will discuss some of the editorial possibilities and challenges within the contexts of Dutch scholarly editing and literary heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 07 Oct 2016

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