Interesting stuff here from WriteElephant.
I picked up this hardback edition of Hitch-22, the memoirs of the late Christopher Hitchens (political journalist, literary critic, essayist, atheist) in a Salvation Army store …
… second-hand but in such near mint condition it seemed no-one had previously turned its pages, which is a surprise, because I found it to be very entertaining.
During a 2010 Australian ABC interview on the Lateline show which coincided with the release of his memoirs, “Hitch” (he had no problem being referred to as “Christopher” but hated the abbreviation “Chris”) was asked about his insecurities as a writer:
“There was a great journalist, a Scotsman called James Cameron who was a big figure in my youth when I was trying to read and imbibe good essayists and good reporters and he said … in his Dundee accent, I can hear him saying it … he said “Every time I roll the paper into the typewriter, I think ‘today’s the day…
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One of the things I enjoy most about collecting typewriters is the astonishing historical information that gets dragged behind each machine that was produced. While window shopping on Ebay this morning (always a dangerous thing for me to do- this activity often ends up with another typer coming into the house) I came across some listings for Consul typers. I went off in search of more information on the production of these machines and found this wonderful blog entry.
The Consul machines were made in Czechoslovakia. I found the following paragraph particularly intriguing. It speaks of self-publishing, a very hot topic among writers today, and the typewriter apparently kept some of these independent writers out of hot water with the government by typing and signing their work to avoid suspicion.
“Communism created a typewriter culture in Czechoslovakia. While publication of books without approval through the state censors was forbidden, manuscripts, monographs, and short stories were not illegal per se. Obviously, if the content was anti-state and it became widely known that you were participating in seditious activities, you could be arrested. But if you hand-typed your work, bound it, and signed the front you were merely distributing a manuscript. It was a tenuous precaution against being accused of spreading unauthorized publications, but it worked. Thousands of publications of Czech samizdat (Russian for self-published) were typed and distributed in a network of underground manuscript-sharing.”
The importance of the typewriter in offices all over the globe can not be overemphasized. They eliminated issues with legibility, documents were tidy and easy to file, they could be copied (using carbon paper), and they gave the appearance of professionalism.
Thanks to the many collectors out there that are keeping these machines pertinent through history and continued use. Large cyber shout-out to Ryan Adney for keeping the smell of oil and the sounds of typers going in today’s classrooms. ~TH~