Sunday, December 13, 2015

A visit to W. F. Hermans' typewriters

Correspondent Hans Boersma reports on a mechanographo-literary pilgrimage.










9 comments:

  1. Great report on a wonderful collection. Good to see it is getting proper care and best of all a museum that allows visitors to use the machines.

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  2. Fantastic report of a wonderful collection! (:

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  3. Great pictures (!) and very interesting story.

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  4. I'm genuinely surprised to hear of a European nation that is so flippant about its own legacy. Guess I don't know Europe well enough. Did you ask the custodian which one was Herman's favorite?

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    1. I didn't need to ask — Hermans' red IBM became iconic. This was the only machine some Dutch institutes/museums were interested in when the collection had become homeless.

      It is, I think, a 1970 IBM Selectric I (serial number: 721-58257291). This is the typewriter he appears to have used most in the last years of his life. Whether it was his favourite? In a 1993 interview he said that he would really prefer writing on all machines simultaneously. He also found that collecting had a downside: "...the collection turns itself against the owner. I hear little voices: me, me, me, me also write a masterpiece!"

      (http://www.wfhermans.net/interviews/90/webeling293.htm)

      The typewriter he probably had the strongest bond with was his first, the Underwood Portable he inherited from his sister (see my letter from last August).

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    2. As you know, I love a good Belgian typewriter story, and this one's a corker. Great post. :)

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  5. As promised, some links providing more detail on how the collection eventually found its new home in Ghent:

    http://www.onterfdgoed.nl/?s=hermans&searchsubmit=
    http://www.wfhermans.net/typemach/index.htm

    It appears I was a bit too optimistic about the capabilities of translation software; Google Translate at least seems intent on creating hermetic poetry. Perhaps there's something better out there. Oh well, one can still enjoy the pictures.

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  6. Oh wow. And I was just in Ghent last year! I'll have to go back. Great story and pix. rino

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