Pfahl, Courtney A. "“after the / Unauthor”. Fragmented Author Functions in Tom Phillips’s A Humument." In: Studies in the Novel 47.3 (2015), S. 399–419.
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|Resource type: Journal Article
BibTeX citation key: Pfahl2015
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Keywords: "A Humument", Artist’s book, Authorship, Phillips. Tom, Randformen des Comics
Collection: Studies in the Novel
This essay is about Tom Phillips’s massive ongoing project A Humument, which was started in 1966, with the most recent edition published in 2012. For this project, Phillips began with an obscure Victorian novel—W. H. Mallock’s A Human Document (1892)—and by painting, drawing, and collaging over its pages, has created something completely new that lies somewhere between an artist’s book and graphic novel. I argue that Phillips’s radically creative reading strategy performs Roland Barthes’s critique of the Romantic author and enacts the transition from author to “scriptor” and “reader,” and from “work” to “text.” Phillips rejects Mallock’s authorial authority by selectively reading other possibilities into the available words, entering A Human Document into the “immense dictionary” of literary history and returning it to the illuminated manuscript tradition. By drawing on this tradition and fragmenting and inhabiting the conventional “author” role through his reading process, Phillips exposes the sociohistorical contingencies of the author function. However, when A Humument is published as a new work, the Romantic author figure is reborn in Phillips.
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