Reading Revision: The Archival Imagination in Marianne Moore's Early Poems
Frey, Lauren Carol
In order to better understand Marianne Moore’s revision practices, my thesis examines Moore’s copies of Poems and Observations, which are currently held in the Rosenbach Museum and Library, as well as the unpublished and published revisions of three poems that have some of the most protracted revision histories: “Poetry,” “When I Buy Pictures,” and “A Grave.” Moore made myriad revisions to both of these texts and poems, from radical omissions and minor substitutions, to corrections of spelling and textual errors. Some of these revisions ultimately become variants in her many published versions of the poems, while others are like ghosts, never appearing in publication. My thesis traces the changes that took place between each draft and typed manuscript of these three poems. While it is both difficult to locate these revisions within a timeline, Moore’s archive nonetheless facilitates an authoritative reading of these revisions. Moore’s revisions can be understood both as a practice and a theme in her work, enabling readers to resist narratives of textual and compositional closure and concision. Finally, Moore’s revisionary practice and archival habit informs the contemporary experience of the public-facing writer on digital sites of composition, curation, and archiving.
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