Smyth 2015

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Smyth, Adam. "Little Clippings: Cutting and Pasting Bibles in the 1630s." JMEMS 43.3 (September 2015): 595-613.

idea that LG is "retreat from the world" is a fiction, perpetuated by the novel John Inglesant and T. S. Eliot

was instead "part Anglican monastery, part domestic school"; tourists from Cambridge flocked there

"Little Gidding was also — and crucially — a thriving workshop of textual production, built on the domineering charisma of Ferrar, but dependent, too, on agents scattered across London, Cambridge, and beyond." (596)

"The deployment of images grew more sophisticated over time: later harmonies include a meticulous layering of discrete pieces cut from larger prints, reorganized into new compositions. Prints frequently break the frame of the margin, or intrude onto the space of the text, forcing the cut-out prose into a corner, or, by combining contrasting pieces, present shifting views that refuse any single perspectival vantage point." (597)

"The Ferrars sold Little Gidding in 1760 and their library vanished, but an archive of papers descended to Magdalene College, Cambridge, including thousands of letters and a collec- tion of approximately eight hundred loose, unmounted prints." (597)

"I would like to introduce a critical change of key to consider ideas of incompletion and process, and to restore a sense of the mobility that is sometimes obscured beneath the various shades of awe-struck criticism Lit- tle Gidding can induce. The two related terms enargeia and energeia, defined by George Puttenham in 1589 as, respectively, that which “giveth a glorious luster and light” (from the Greek argos, meaning bright), and that which is “wrought with a strong and virtuous operation” (from ergon, meaning work), combine to suggest a vigor of speech, both vivid and forceful, that ensures (in Quintilian’s words) “nothing that we say is tame,” and a power of description “which makes us seem not so much to narrate as to exhibit the actual scene.” 21 Knives and scissors function as a kind of material extension of this rhetorical mode, lending to the cut-out pieces a force and a sense of lively animation which means that the harmonies are never only themselves: they are books composed of pieces which, as a result of the compositional method that is suggested in the finished form (we see the blade marks, the dried glue, the scribbled corrections), seem only for the moment aligned into the shape of a book. (George Henderson’s characterization of these books as “the sublimation of scissors and paste” is thus not quite right: the materiality

"Cutting and pasting is not only about compilation, about the excising and collecting of pieces; it is also a mode that suggests that these pieces have past and future lives. The paradox is that what might be seen as bookish imperfection — the harmony’s parts do not cohere fully into the whole — lends these texts that quality which is often regarded as the mark of good writing: vigour, animation, life." (598)

depictions of Matthew

"The Little Gidding community seized on this iconic moment of the word made flesh to offer a representation of writing as the product of scissors and glue, reconceiving a founding moment in the history of text as a scene of cutting and pasting, découpage, or collage. ... Little Gidding thus reformulates writing by hand as the work not of pen and ink but of knives and scissors. Given the significance of Matthew’s Gospel as the earliest Christian text, Little Gidding’s reworking suggests that collage precedes inscription as Christianity’s written mode. Since cutting and pasting makes apparent the labor of book pro- duction, this scene is a double representation of creativity: Matthew pieces together his Gospel, while the Little Gidding community pieces together Matthew piecing together his Gospel. We are aware of both labors at the same time, because the cut-and-paste mode of composition is always visible in its product." (602)

"One important trait of cutting and pasting is its resistance to a complete integration of parts into a whole. As a consequence, cutting and pasting lends to (or retains for) its pieces the effect of a history, of anima- tion or life. Cutting and pasting produces a sense of units of language (qua printed letters) falling temporarily into an alignment from which they might soon break: of words as the momentary configuration of mobile letter parts." (602)

blank spaces in Ferrar prints where sections have been cut out -- describes them as "haunting" (? -- only black in microfilmed version -- holes, really)

"the process of creating harmonies was wasteful: to cut meant both to select and to leave behind" (603)

"Sixty-two prints in the Fer- rar Papers have excisions of some sort: about eight percent of the total." (603)

NF disliked images of God being used

"Do images with cut-away sections represent too much, or too little? Do they give us something (an image of the Final Judgment), or do they withhold what we really want (the complete page denied by the cut-out holes)? One answer is that cut images toggle between presence and absence: the cut surface of an altered print — whether an unused loose page, or a glued-in harmony part — is, through its overt materiality, vividly present (indeed, is felt to be more present because of the excisions); but it also con- veys a gap, a space where something else once was. To read a print with an excised part is to feel an uncertainty about what is primary (or essential) and what is secondary (or supplementary): about what is the part, and what is the whole. The effect of this toggling is to generate a flickering sense of some- thing like motion, an oscillation between a before of presence and an after of absence, and back again, rather like the experience of reading flip books in which the reader, flicking through pages of gradually varying images, and keeping her gaze on a fixed point, perceives the impression of animation." (604)

"The experience of reading the harmonies is an odd combination of marveling at the assembled text, but also of being aware of the act of destruction that lies behind that assembling: like all examples of collage, these books are awkwardly placed on the bor- der of destruction and creation, or, to put that more precisely, these books derive their liveliness in part from an entangling of the two. This ambi- guity becomes particularly potent when placed in a Reformation context." (605) -- Ferrar Prints misidentified as the work of an iconoclast

connection between cut prints and careful removal of some images from stained glass windows

"The other power that these loose prints possess is the capacity to conjure the process of harmony manufacture. Leafing through the boxes of prints — which include, for example, a printed border of roses, designed to frame a never-completed central harmony scene — one gets a sense of a vibrant, com- plex textual operation that has been packed up, suddenly, but which might resume at any point." (605)

"Many of the Magdalene prints are augmented with handwritten notes. 192 prints in the Ferrar Papers (about twenty-four percent) have some form of annotation, usually, as far as it possible to tell, in the hand of Nicho- las or John Ferrar. These notes relate to the business of acquiring, catalogu- ing, and selecting prints for use." (606)

suggests that NF probably didn't get prints during travels on continent but "the LG community was in fact engaged in an ongoing process of ordering and receiving prints" (607)

letters show "traffic of goods into LG" -- including many bookish items (607)

"Many of these letters relate directly to harmony production and convey the busy, networked labor of Little Gidding’s bookmaking. “I received your let- ter yesternight & immediately went to Mr Tabor,” wrote Ferrar’s relative Robert Mapletoft. “The Concordance I promised you is not yet come out to the booksellers, but Mr Tabor by spetiall fauour hath promise of one.” Or: “The fayrest Latin Bible of the Vulgar edition and of you[r] size is that of Amsterdam by Johnson 1632.” Or, as goldsmith Arthur Wodenoth noted in 1632: “I was yesterday att Printing Hows, when I understand that the Bible of the Romane letter is finished.”" (607)

"Prints, along with other book-making goods, flowed in, and once acquired, they were sorted and often labeled: thus the many prints with, on their reverse, numbers or identifying titles such as “Parable of the Sower in Ovalls.” 57 The appearance of the same title or figure on a number of prints shows Ferrar’s interest in acquiring various, often identical, depictions of the same scene. Sometimes these similar images are bound together with string, creating a little book: and where the string doesn’t survive, the holes can be matched up to evoke this improvised binding. It seems likely, but not cer- tain, that there was a register, now lost, providing a central index — creating an archive to draw on for future, as yet unidentified, work." (608)

process of composing -- "this may be used" scrawled on back of some Unused prints

"Restoring a sense of this labor is worthwhile, partly because it can begin to overturn gendered assumptions about Nicholas Ferrar’s dominance and restore to the narrative the work performed by his nieces: Margaret, Anna, and Mary Collett, and Virginia Ferrar. These women sometimes planted, within the harmonies, tiny images of collective female textual labor: pictures of women sewing and writing, and a desk, book, and scroll. 62 This spirit of collaboration also provides an alternative to a post-Romantic idea of the author as a dematerialized individual: the Little Gidding texts are about many hands, working together to cut, reorder, glue, and make." (608)

"An awareness of harmony production also matches Ferrar’s original conception of the function of these books: he wanted his community to make harmonies as a means to memorize the Gospels — so the making, not the finished coherence, was the point. ... This in turn suggests an answer to the question of why the community did not simply write out the books by hand, illustrating with prints. Why laboriously deploy cut-out printed text? One answer must be to do with speed, and the kind of meticulous, slow, and therefore pious labor that the cut-out books demanded. While we, today, are perhaps struck by the finished splendor of these volumes, for the community at Little Gidding, the process of harmony- making was at least as important as the product. The unused or half-used loose prints constitute not an unseemly collection of leftovers that sully the finished project, but rather an expression of the Ferrars’s conception of their harmonies as most alive when in the process of being made." (609)