The Claverings

New to the site: The Claverings, by Anthony Trollope.

What’s this? A serialized novel from 1866? What happened to all of my twenty-first century sexual obscenities?

I haven’t changed genres, don’t worry. But I have spent portions of the last few months creating an HTML version of Trollope’s novel The Claverings. Although you can find plenty of Trollope on the Internet, up until now The Claverings was only online as an Amazon.com backorder or as scanned magazine pages at Cornell University’s Making of America project.

I found out about Making of America from an essay about Melville’s Bartleby the Scrivener on Paul Ford’s website. Ford was amazed to see a landmark short story in the context of its first publication. I wanted to find classics that Project Gutenberg may have missed.

A New Yorker article about writer’s block turned me on to Anthony Trollope. I searched the online library and Google for a work the former had and the latter was unaware of. I found The Claverings serialized in three volumes of The Galaxy.

I began by copying the scanned pages of the novel in “View As Text” mode, one-by-one. Once I had all the text (in separate files per issue), I began to mark up the novel manually as HTML, correcting errors from the scanning as I went along. I also consulted the library’s image scans liberally while proofreading. Finally I divided the novel up by chapter instead of by issue number. And now The Claverings is on my site.

What’s next? There are probably typos and HTML errors in the novel, and the original serial had pictures which I left out, but which could easily go back in. I also have not created a plain-text version of The Claverings, which I believe is required if the novel is to appear on Project Gutenberg. But making a plain-text Claverings is beyond me. You see the plain text plays on this site? I am putting hard returns on each line to make the text readable. Doing that to a 52 chapter novel would take ages.

But The Claverings is up for grabs. Take it, change the format, add the pictures, and do what you’d like to it. And read it! It’s an enjoyable comic romance with a hilariously spineless hero.

And then go further. Find another work from Making of America, dust it off and show it to a new century. Paul Ford inspired me; I want you to look at our history from when it was current events and bring back something worthwhile.

PS: Judging by Monday’s entry on Harpers.org, Ford continues to visit the Making of America library. Although I can’t link to it, you can search for the original Harpers entry yourself; go ahead. The cartoon seems to have been just as bizarre and without context in 1885 as it was this week, but there the cartoon’s title was the less awkward “Our Cat Eats Rat Poison”. A new typo for the ages?

PPS: My makeshift stylesheet for The Claverings is heavily in debt to Steve Thomas and his stylesheet for the works at Adelaide University’s collection of Web books. I find this site to be quite a bit more enjoyable than Project Gutenberg, but I may only be hypnotized by pretty hypertext.

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