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D. J. Enright's poem "The Typewriter Revolution" (1971) is a text in which a typewriter appears to revolt against its owner (?), resulting in the distortion of texts and literary allusions. Below is an example:

TAB e or not TAB e
i.e. the ?
Tygirl tygirl burning bride

The poem ends with the following line:

FACIT cry I!!!

Can anybody please explain what this means?

16

Facit was a brand of typewriters made by the company of the same name in Åtvidaberg, Sweden. The poem says so in the second stanza:

Mine is a Swetish Maid
Called FACIT
Others are OLIMPYA or ARUSTOCART
RAMINTONG or LOLITEVVI

“Swetish Maid” = “Swedish-made”. The other references are to Olympia-Werke, the “Empire Aristocrat” brand of British Typewriters, Remington and Olivetti.

(Note that I don’t think it makes sense to interpret the poem as being written by the typewriter itself: the typewriter would surely write, “I am a Swetish Maid called FACIT”, not “Mine is”. I interpret the speaker as representing a fictionalized version of the poet.)

There are a couple of puns in the last line: “facit” is Latin for “it makes”, so that “FACIT cry I” implies that the poet blames the typewriter for all the errors: “it makes” them, not me, he says. And “FACIT” sounds like “fuck it”, which expresses the poet’s frustration at the state of the poem.

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  • I guess you're right that that's the way D. J. Enright would have been taught to pronounce Latin... Oct 18 at 17:28
  • 1
    @MichaelKay Yes, reconstructed Classical Latin pronunciation began to be taught in English schools from the early-to-mid 20th century, which probably included Enright (born 1920). Oct 18 at 17:37
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The poem mentions several brands of typewriters, some of whose names are actually jumbled up by the typewriter:

The cry "FACIT cry I!!!"—presumably by the author, who gets frustrated by the typewriter's "revolution"—reuses the name of the typewriter company. FACIT may actually be "Fuck it", facetiously distorted by the typewriter to mask the vulgar language.

[1] Some online versions of the poem have the spelling FRAMINGTON, but Enright actually wrote RAMINTONG. See The Typewriter Revolution: The Poetic Prequel - Two Professors, Two Pre-Eminent, Peerless Poets on the oz.Typewriter blog (6 May 2016).

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