A writer's obsession
Giovanni Pintori, Poster, 1962

Cormac McCarthy is selling his beloved typewriter. The Guardian website investigates writers' obsessions with this anachronistic and elegant device:
After five decades and 5m words, Cormac McCarthy is parting company with the faithful typewriter he bought in a Tennessee pawn shop for $50.

Despite his decision to auction his elderly Olivetti – offers around the $15,000 to $20,000 mark, please – not to mention the advent of the PC, McCarthy remains a devotee of the manual typewriter.

He is not alone. Will Self, Don DeLillo and Frederick Forsyth are also members of the small and select group of writers who find typewriters more conducive to the creative process than their electronic counterparts.

Self, who admits to "fetishising" the old-fashioned machines, says he enjoys the enforced discipline of the typewriter: "Writing on a manual makes you slower in a good way, I think. You don't revise as much, you just think more, because you know you're going to have to retype the entire fucking thing. Which is a big stop on just slapping anything down and playing with it."

DeLillo, meanwhile, says he needs to hear the words take shape as he "sculpts" his books. "I need the sound of the keys, the keys of a manual typewriter," he told one interviewer. "The hammers striking the page. I like to see the words, the sentences, as they take shape. It's an aesthetic issue: when I work I have a sculptor's sense of the shape of the words I'm making. I use a machine with larger than average letters: the bigger the better." [Read More]