Monday, 20 January 2014

On Three Books With The Same Name

The original 'book' named The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (La Mariée Mise à Nu Par Ses Célibataires Même) was Duchamp's somewhat book-like collection, also known as 'The Green Box', which was published in 1934 in an edition of 320 copies. It consists of a compilation of facsimiles of Duchamp's enigmatic notes (written between 1911 and 1915) for his sculpture The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even, after which I named my novel

Duchamp claimed to have gone to what seems like absurd lengths to reproduce the notes exactly like the originals, down to the type and shape of paper, and the ink. However, modern scholarship, which has access to the original notes as well as his allegedly 'exact copies', has cast doubt on this claim. Many of the ink and paper types simply don't match and have perhaps even been systematically changed (details are here). 

The notes in The Green Box have been republished in various forms, perhaps most notably in Richard Hamilton's excellent typographic English translation, also titled The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (though subtitled A typographic version), which the characters in my novel make sure they have with them when they go on a road trip from Medford, MA to Philadelphia, PA.

It seems to have clearly been Duchamp's intent that his notes to The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even should be considered in some sense as part of the sculpture, to prevent anyone from thinking they might have just a purely visual relationship to it. You can't just look at the piece. You have to think about it. That is what makes it great.

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