For A Humument, the artist
Tom Phillips took the Victorian novel A Human Document and treated the pages - working over the top of them so that only some of the original text and none of the original meaning remains.
It isn’t an unnecessary gimmick,
either – making it into an obsessive clippings book of borrowed phrases constantly reinforces the narrator’s obsession with these magazines and the womanly concerns to which they are devoted.
Four books (to be read
in the order 3,1,2,4) telling two very diﬀerent stories (Gray perhaps combining them, the text itself suggests, because ‘the author thinks a heavy book will make a bigger splash than two light ones’) there’s plenty brilliant oddness about Lanark that could be discussed.
But, as this list’s about
typographical storytelling antics, I will direct you to the fourth book, where a fraught meeting occurs between protagonist and author.
Here Gray inserts an embedded
column indexing the works he has plagiarised, while simultaneously hijacking the running heads to narrate a condensed account of the doings of each page.
ere are two narrators, each
with their own typeface, there are footnotes referencing footnotes referencing footnotes that you have to chase around the page, there is writing mirrored, sideways or upside down and layouts that mimic the events of the story or the handwriting of a distressed, frantic hand. e word house always appears in blue, the word minotaur always in red.
e story concerns a house
that starts out inexplicably a quarter of an inch larger, when measured from the inside, than it is when measured from the outside, which then becomes infested with other unreliable spaces. It’s very good.