The Taming of Matter: Jalmari Finne and the Typewriter

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Veijo Pulkkinen


This article examines the role of the typewriter in the genetic process of the novel Vuosisatain vaatimus (1918) by the Finnish novelist Jalmari Finne (1874–1939). Finne is a rare example of an early twentieth-century author who mastered touch typing and composed directly on a typewriter. He claimed that he used the typewriter because it enabled him to keep up with his thinking, a claim that challenges Friedrich Kittler’s (1990, 193) thesis that the most remarkable feature of the typewriter is not its speed but its “spatially and discrete signs”. A genetic examination of Finne’s typescripts suggests that he had developed generative typing into a kind of  “blind revision” in that he did not read and correct previous drafts but rather inserted a blank paper in the machine and typed an altogether new version of the text without copying the previous version.



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