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Martin Paul Eve

Professor of Literature, Technology and Publishing at Birkbeck, University of London

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I have a new article out in Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction on how to read redaction in contemporary fiction.

In this work, I produce an initial taxonomy of redactive functions and the contextual restrictions that are placed on the withheld content, following the work of Lisa Gitelman and others:

  1. as limited linguistic structures; only certain types of term can fall into a redaction due to context (such as addresses);
  2. as spatially limited; signified by the size of the redacted block and the correlative length of the underlying word (“The Sun” newspaper, composed of two short redactemes, for example);
  3. as legal signifier; implying an underlying truth/falsity dichotomy (“it may be true, but we might be sued for it being untrue”) and a conspiratorial environment that would be repressed if expressed in toto (redaction of names);
  4. as part of novelistic tradition; implicitly demonstrating the fictionality of the device through the tradition dating back to at least the eighteenth century;
  5. as postmodern signifier of detective work allied to literary interpretation; an artifice that signals the reader’s role in attempting to uncover what lies beneath;
  6. as invitation to contextual or symptomatic reading; a way of signaling that the text is withholding contextual information that must be supplied by a reader.

I suspect this is far from comprehensive, but it’s as far as I got.

The piece is openly available and available for direct download. It’s also in Birkbeck’s institutional repository and available freely from the publisher.

Finally, I would only note that the conflict of interest statement is not correct yet. I provided this multiple times to Taylor and Francis, but it has not appeared on the final version: “The author works at the same university as Mark Blacklock, whose novel is one of the subjects of this article.” I hope this will be corrected soon.