Lipton’s Journal/Editors’ Note

From Project Mailer

When Mailer made the final entry to Lipton’s, the journal topped 104,000 words divided into 708 numbered entries. Mailer numbered each entry consecutively over the twenty-one days he wrote in his journal, from December 1, 1954 to March 4, 1955. Occasionally he would skip a number and likewise repeat one. Sometimes entries were repetitive, redundant, or ridiculous. The archival manuscript is rough, like a first-draft that an editor might be privy to. It should not be published in its current form, but needed to undergo careful editing to present a cohesive, readable, and logical volume. We decided to approach editing the journal with two platforms in mind, the Web and the book, each with its own intended users: (re)searchers and readers, respectively.

In this digital project, the main users of the journal will be researchers looking for quick information, likely via Google or through keyword searches of this site. The journal, then, has been remediated to make search the most likely avenue of access. Users may search Lipton’s on any page of the project, either in the box in the upper-right, or the box above the navigation at the bottom of the page. The latter search box will privilege Lipton’s entries, while the other presents results form the entire site based on Google’s algorithm. Mailer’s original entries have been renumbered, eliminating errors in the manuscript. Each journal entry has its own page, often with linked cross-references to other entries. Blocks of text in the original have been logically paragraphed for readability, and a navigational box appears at the bottom of every entry for browsing.

Since the entries occupy their individual pages, annotations are repeated throughout. These annotations explain important people and events that might not be inferred from the text and often provide a greater intellectual and philosophical context for Mailer’s thought, especially to users who may be unfamiliar with or new to Mailer’s work. While readers would find this application of footnotes redundant, the nature of the digital presentation makes their repetition logical. To expand these notes for those who are interested, we have linked many names to Wikipedia articles. We have tried to keep these links in the footnotes for consistency and to avoid unnecessary interruption in the text of the entries.

We also employ hover notes: these clarify terms or ideas that Mailer discusses in earlier entries but continues to refer to or develop in subsequent ones. Again, the idea here is to provide the necessary context if a researcher lands on an entry in the middle of the journal. These glossed terms are often abbreviations or neologisms that would make little sense without knowledge of previous entries. Hover notes are indicated by a dotted-underline and can be accessed by hovering over them with the mouse pointer.

Finally, to preserve some of the feel of the manuscript, we have adopted a visual system that shows Mailer’s handwritten edits to the journal. We use a green highlight to indicate additions or marginalia, and a red line to show deleted text.

In this digital version of Lipton’s Journal, we decided to keep everything from the original manuscript to give researchers the most complete picture of the manuscript as possible, accessible via search. While this would be tedious for readers, for researchers and casual browsers, an edited but complete presentation seemed the best way to approach a Digital Humanities project. Of course, the original document is available via the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, TX, for those needing to see the yellowing, typewritten pages—perhaps a more authentic, albeit less-convenient, way that would likely have been Mailer-approved. Be that as it may, we hope users find this digital version valuable, accessible, and convenient. Of course, any suggestions for improvements are welcome; they may be sent to