Greg 1932

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Greg, W. W. "Bibliography -- An Apologia." The Library. 8.2 (September 1932): 113-143.

  • quotes Areopagitica on 2
  • describes book as "link with past", "repository of the thought", "precious inheritance"
"The record is defaced in a hundred ways which it is the patient task of criticism tod etect and to correct. Thus the material study of books is of importance just in sof ar as it helps us to read their record, and so enables them to fulfill their function. The essence of bibliography is therefore the science of the transmission of literary documents: it is this, and this alone, that gives it a claim upon the attention of serious students." (115)

bibliography -- has tended to "overlook this essential function of books, and has concentrated on one or another accidental character"

"Books are the material means by which literature is transmitted; therefore bibliography, the study of books, is essentially the science of the transmission of literary documents." (115)

take a catholic view of importance of different disciplines: illustration, binding, ornamental binding, library history all can have something to say about books

"text-transmission is a bibliographical fact, and that the study of textual variation is a strictly bibliographical study, quite independent, theoretically, of the meaning of the text" (123)
"I am much mistaken if more and greater critical mistakes ahve not arisen from reliance on the supposed meaning of the text than from all other sources of error put together." (124)

textual criticism -- editing the text by "correcting" it

  • metacritical work

study of textual transmission -- not correcting

  • critical
"I incline to emphasize rather the humbler function of the critic, in the belief that it is here that the more certain results may be attained, and that until a firm foundation has been laid by these methods, any metacritical superstructure is so much building in the air." (129)

critical bibliography is the same as textual criticism, or should be

  • "whole of their [textual critics] textual apparatus needs to be approached from the bibliographical point of view" (130)

failure to distinguish between critical and metacritical problems, and failure to realize that critical problems are essentially bibliographical (130)

"It may be said with confidence that no sound basis of textual criticism will be established until critic sgive up looking on variant readings as literary counters, and treat them primarily as evidence for the reconstruction of the steps in the transmission of the text, reducing the whole process to a question of pieces of writing material covered with certain conventional signs." (132)

scribe "leaves many traces of his operation beyond the actual differences of reading, traces which having no literary bearing or value are commonly unnoticed or ignored by the old-fashioned textual critic, but which may be of crucial value as evidence of manuscript descent" (133)

"If, then, I have made good my contention, it follows that bibliography necessarily includes, as its most distinctive branch, the study of textual transmission, and that textual criticism, up to the point where it changes its nature and becomes metacritical, is essentially nothing but the application of bibliographical analysis." (136)
"None but the bibliographer, trained in the material analysis of books and the signs that fill them, can be trusted to extract from their silent record the full testimony for the determination of the text." (136)
"In other words, he [bibliographer/textual critic] would need a thorough general knowledge of bibliography, and especially of all the material conditions, processes, and accidents that may affect the transmission of the text. It is, I am convinced, i nthe hands of such scholars that the future of textual criticism lies -- and the text is the central problem of all literary study." (137)