Many of the ideas and sentences from the red notebook appear in Walking Home unchanged. By considering the notebook against the published book, we can explore ideas of authenticity and authority in relation to writing.
Do we value a handwritten text differently to a printed one and are there implications for how we read that text? Philip Larkin wrote that literary manuscripts have two kinds of value: the magical and the meaningful. The magic of handwritten manuscripts seems to come in part from their proximity to the author, who handled and wrote the pages. This proximity seems to guarantee authenticity.
In contrast, when we buy a travel guide we might value a different kind of text. Here, handwriting might suggest subjectivity rather than objectivity, and we might feel that such a guide lacks authority.
By comparing the red notebook to Walking Home we can identify the effects that printing, publishing and mass-distribution have on a work. They invest it with a degree of authority. Yet one consequence of printing is that each chapter of Walking Home looks the same on the page: the form of the writing is standardised. The proximity of the author to the page, and sense of authenticity seem to be lost.
Although we may experience them differently, the etymological roots of ‘authenticity’ refer back to ‘authority’ in the sense that the authentic or authoritative version is ‘original’, ‘genuine’ or ‘true’.