De streek: Theorie van het schrift
The stroke: Theory of writing

English translation by Peter Enneson
[partial draft only]

Note: Peter Enneson's translation grew into a complete book and has been published at Hyphen Press. Order here: The Stroke, theory of writing.

This draft translation of parts of Gerrit Noordzij's De streek: Theorie van het schrift is based on its 1991 printing. The original text goes back to 1985, the year after Letterletter was launched. The translation was begun several years ago. In preparing it for posting on this site, I've done a quick re-reading of the posted chapters, and a spot comparison with the Dutch text. I think it holds up well as a readable text.

Gerrit Noordzij expressed his feelings about having the translation posted as follows. "I would not publish such unfinished work myself, but I do not want either to obstruct your [the List's, I think he means] communication. So do what you like. To keep the message simple and clear you might describe the translation as provisional and not yet authorized." A few days later he added: "You might add that your translation improved the text. At several places the concept has been formulated clearer than the Dutch original and some ideas have developed since the original edition." And still later, this comment about his connection now, with the book itself: "The stories of De streek are so far away for me now. They are more than 15 years old now. You seem to be engaged more than I am. This feeling made me say that I do not want to stand in your way. Again: do what you like to."

In The stroke the two chapters posted here are flanked on the one side by a chapter titled "The white of the word" and on the other by three more chapters on the word: "The word", "The invention of the word", and "The consolidation of the word". "[T]he white in the word is," as the final sentence of The stroke notes, "the point of departure for this theory of writing." Chapters 2 and 3, posted here, on "the stroke' and the direction of the front"' deal with "the black of the letter." The black of the letter is where Letterletter starts. In Letterletter the white of the word is discussed only briefly, in relation to the teaching of reading.

The two are posted here as a test. If they facilitate discussion about ideas explored in Letterletter and beyond, I will continue. If their unfinished nature becomes an obstacle, I will wait with posting the others.

Peter Enneson

Chapter 2: The stroke
Chapter 3: The Direction of the front