McLeod 1994

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McLeod, Randall M., ed. Crisis in Editing: Texts of the English Renaissance. Papers given at the twenty-fourth annual Conference on Editorial Problems, University of Toronto, 4-5 November 1988. New York: AMS Press, 1994.

Introduction, by Randall McLeod (ix-xiii)

Manuscript into Print, by Nicolas Barker (1-18)

"All manuscripts are copies: all printed books are unique." (1)
"All printed books lead lives independent from others, starting in the womb, so to speak, before the press has finished its work, during which some copies but not others receive the compositor's correction. When they issue into the world, each one (in our period at least) to be bound independently of the others, they set off on a pilgrimage that may ultimately -- but so many more meet an untimely end -- bring them to an editor's hands." (2)
"a view of the stemmatic plan, a family tree, is apt to force the editor into decisions too narrowly based and perhaps even wrong. It is better reflected, not by the familiar pyramid of the stemma, but by a series of parallel lines, sometimes overlapping, with occasional transverse lines. To vary the geometric metaphor, the editor needs to apply lateral thinking. ... What I mean is the recognition that texts can proceed vertically (or chronologically) by different routes using perhaps differen technologies, without contact or with contact only casual or partial in application." (13)
"Tracing texts is the tracing of dissemination. Dissemination takes two forms": transmission, the single passing on of a text from place to place or age to age; and multipliciation, the same process achieved by creating many copies. Books as families, whether viewed contemporaneously as 'extended families' or genealogically by tracing descent, bring us to the same task: the tracing of the line that links us to the original idea and form of a work through the successive or simultaneous copies made of it." (14)

The Rhetorics of Reaction, by Gary Taylor (19-60)

textual criticism is "unavoidably intertextual and rhetorical: it has its own characteristic genres and tropes" (19)

Taylor traces the rhetoric of reactionaries within textual criticism

FIAT fLUX, by Random Cloud (61-172)

1633, Herbert dies; two "look-alike editions" of The Temple appear, with two different "Easter-wings"

"modern editing and criticism have joined to bring us only one 'EASTER-WINGS' poem, 20 lines long" (66)

traces the reading of different versions -- what constitutes the "poem" (or "poems") order, how one interacts with the page to read it -- does the left wing or right come first? does the text read, down, left, or right?

"As the printed shape-poem is inherently an object of both reading and gazing, it cannot exist wholly in a single spatiality and temporality. In our performative processing of this poem-that-is-a-picture, we cannot be in all modalities at once." (72)
"Untied, the wings of the book unfold as an agel in the grasp of the woman to whom the book was given. The diptych is not a merely visual field; it is also tactile and metamorphic." (72)

manuscript -- is an adaptation "and not a mindless transcription: for this fact argues that what we modern readers are conditioned to think is the wrong sequence of stanzas seems to have been right for an engaged 17th-century sensibility" (74)

different leading of editions; "for those who like to think of poetry either as eternal, ghostly forms or as scattered generations of leaves, it will be a challenge to countenance the mediation of "Easter wings" in metal over these seven years" (78)

reading of punctuation within printed book indicates how the first edition was pushing the reader to read the poem -- as two different poems (79-82)

traces how the deathbed ms. could have traveled, and what authorities it could be said to have (84-5)

  • "The different orientations and styles of indenting in the manuscripts and first printed edition give no evidence which of them is correct, or indeed that any of them must be wrong. The differences could have expressed the will of the poet on different occasions in different media. Moreover it is not clear that authority is to be restricted merely to him. Insofar as one sees the labour of production as collaborative, the author may be deemed only one determinant among many. In some, it now seems impossible to find the single authoritative layout for the 'Easter wings' poems, if ever it existed." (85)
  • "Everything points clearly to the rotation and the diptych format as esthetic choices. Nothing points clearly to who is responsible for them." (85)

Gallery of different editions of Easter Wings -- shows trans/deformations of the poem over the years

when the poem is flipped so you don't have to turn the page, the gutter disappears, and "the poems cannot be grasped each on a separate wing of the book: without the diptych-format, the poems no longer allegorize the book, the book no longer allegorizes our hands. The body goes under. The iconic fades." (87)

editors believe themselves to be revealing the author's intent, experiencing thoughts not as their own but as Herbert's (118)

"Together these examples, like the repeated presentation of 'Easter wings' as a single poem, tell a predictable tale of editorial ineptitude and plagiarism. But to suggest that each of these editors is merely a stupid scoundrel is really to miss the broader point: their culpability is institutional. It lies in the tradition of editing and editorial commentary itself, which exists in the creation of culturally palatable displacements of the evidence. Thus, the editors' derivations one from another essentially manifest their cultural loyalty -- loyalty to the substitute, which their actions over the generations render incrementally more and more familiar and credible, as the evidence becomes excrementally more and more quaint and disregarded. The consequence is that the evidence, and the culture that produced it, appear alien in the culture of editing, even as it claims to bridge it to us." (127-8)
"I want a criticism grounded in the paradoxical interaction of what we say and what we mean -- grounded in surprise and open to contradiction. I want to know why criticism makes Herbert's poem as safe as its Meaning, rather than as dangerous as our experience of it -- why, in explaining it, criticism explains it away." (131)
"Endless deferral. Endless deference. We live by communal pieties, which are deemed to be legitimized by their derivation from texts, be they scripture, dictionaries, or editorial notes. But these texts see mto be necessary largely for the general assurance that they somehow back us up; they don't seem specifically to be textually necessary, and, in fact, are very often textually dangerous -- for they threaten to unmean their own meanings. When they do so, to try and make them mean what they are supposed to is to twist one's mind the way editors twist wings." (133)

examines other printed shape poems that may be precursors for Herbert

transformation of information (147)

  • "The history of Indo-European reveals the immense staying power of linguistic codes. but they have held on only by letting go, for over time language has mutated, multipleid and diversely adapted to the cultures in co-evolution with them. Understandably, when we read Yeats or Shakespeare with etymological awareness, it may be difficult to bring ourselves to regret this awesome inefficient efficiency of communication over the ages -- because of the cultural diversity and intelligence and ignorance that muddles out of it, and which, since our very identities are rooted in language, sets us diverse, intelligence, and ignorant before it, absurdly pondering whether to regret it or not. Similarly, it is difficult to be objective when we contemplate the mutation of DNA codes, which fills the evolving earth with cognate species, simultaneously identifying and differentiating us. Well, if mutation of messages is the way of this world, how are we to react to Herbert's editors? Does their inexhaustible fertility issue in sublime adaptation or merely befuddled degeneration?" (148)

different editions show "appropriation drifting inappropriately according to fashion; this drift forestalls literary criticism's approach to a science. This is not to say that editing is not a highly intellectual practice, for it is. But its intellect is self-absorbed; it is virtually cut off fro mthe objects it needs to contemplate." (148)

"plainly, authority itself is multiple. Not only do the documents lie in layers, then, but a given document may itself be layered. At the core of the evidence there beats more than one heart, and textual science cannot reduce this pulsing multiplicity to a solid unity -- if that is what the scholar in us hopes for." (149)
"If his [Herbert's] inspiration and expression appear complicit with the very evolutionary drift that textual criticism stands opposed to, might not textual criticism seem to point the way of detachment, of sterility and of extinction?" (149)
"Taken as a whole, the body of editorial modification and commodification can constitute a map of misreadings, not only those of our naive selves, but also those of our culture at large. I think it takes exacting textual criticism of authoritative documents to force editing to disclose such a map, for without an external discipline those who wander in editing will simply become what they behold." (150)
"Editing can scarcely be expected to divulge its own structures, until it is juxtaposed critically to the evidence it claims to report. In the contradictions that become vivid in such a juxtaposition, we can measure precisely the difficulties of Herbert's poetry and our resistance to it." (150)

"What? in a names that which we call a Rose," The Desired Texts of Romeo and Juliet, by Jonathan Goldberg (173-202)

desirous passage of Juliet -- "name" we call a rose vs. "word" we call a rose; Bowers prefers "word", though name has become canon (and first folio has "names")

"bibliographical logic cannot be divorced from desire, and that the editorial aim, to give us 'What Shakespeare Wrote' ... cannot be separated from a desire to clothe an interpretaion with authority." (174)

Shakespeare editing as a "tradition of performance" (174)

"When questions about Shakespeare's text -- or texts -- become questions about the manuscript -- or manuscripts -- behind them, we pass, inevitably, into the sphere of desire, the desire for the missing object, which in certain post-Freudian accounts defines the nature of desire." (181)
"What these two versions of the lines intimate is that there were as many more Romeo and Juliets as we might imagine within the plausible life of the play in Shakespeare's time. An editor of the play, at least one following new Bibliographic protocols, will choose one of them, just as any actor playing Juliet chose one of the alternatives. There never was a final Romeo and Juliet, a single authoritative or authorial version of the play. These were only versions, from the start. Scripts to be acted, they presumed multiplicities and contingencies, the conditions of the theater" (189)

The Noisy Comma, Searching for the Signal in Renaissance Dramatic Texts, by Antony Hammond (203-250)

collaborative performed text: "the Play"

any individual performance of performances of the Play: "presentments"

the published text intended for private reading: "the Poem"

dramatist's foul-papers --> fair-copy --> prompt-book --> licence --> parts: line of authoirty to the Play

"I believe that every effort must be made to reconstruct and interpret the purposive decisions made by the printer and his employees, in order to determine whether these decisions are features of the collaborative text which ought to be admitted into a modern critical edition, or rejected from it. The collaborative text should be taken as the basis of authority" (207)

Greg's "substantive" and "accidental" --> think of them as "signal" and "noise" from communication theory (207)

  • "It is perfectly possible to make a signal by accident, as anyone who has dialed a wrong number knows; but the intention was not to dial the wrong number." -- signals have purposive action

most dramatic manuscripts before 1620, sparsely punctuation, and punctuation based on conventions different from those being established by printers (214)

"if a single generalization may be made about their punctuation, it is that theatrical scribes, preparing a MS for use in the theatre, felt no need to punctuate what was to them self-evident" (221)

after 1610 or so, punctuation was part of the signal in the published "poem"

"there is little if any evidence that the punctuation of authorial and scribal dramatic manuscripts was purposefully selected before 1610 or so; rather, that its very casualness until the influence of the compositors began to make itself felt suggest that it is a 'noisy', or 'accidental', element in the text" (222)

authorial self-education: "authors were learning new possibilities for intellectual control not only of their own MSS, but also of what was printed in their texts from the very people who held that control, the members of the printing profession. If an author took control of certain aspects of the collaborative text which hitherto he had delegated to his unknown collaborators in the printing house, that is no more than a re-adjustment of an internal arrangement for producing the text, and should present no great problem to editors" (232)

"All editors are, or try to be, collaborators. The traditional role of the editor has been to recover the author's text from the corruptions of the printing house, and thereby restore the author's linguistic and lexical intentions. I venture to suggest that this motivation needs re-consideration, and that one valid editorial role in attempting to perfect a text of the 'Poem' should be to collaborate with the original printing house, rather than to ignore its vital function i ndressing for the public what the author entrusted it with." (235)

Acting Scripts, Performing Texts, by Stephen Orgel (251-294)

page vs. stage -- page longer than stage

  • "The text, then, was not the play, and all plays would have been cut for performance."
"My subject is the tension between text and performance, and my contention is that as editors and critics, we share, in profound and unexamined ways, that original divided loyalty."\

early editorial revisions -- the concept of the individual plays "included broad areas of possibility and difference, and was not at all limited to the text of 'the true original copies.' what the reviser is producing are apparently not, moreover, being thought of as adaptions of Shakespeare." (265-7)

"These all suggest that the text of a play was thought of as distinctly, essentially, by nature, unfixed; always open to revision. This idea makes us very uncomfortable, and even critics who are willing to acknowledge the necessary instability of playhouse scripts in the Renaissance, would probably want to argue that, at least after Shakespeare's death, the 'real' Shakespeare play was always what is preserved in the printed text, because all productions ultimately exist in reference to that. This makes perfectly good sense, but it seems to me that it makes sense only because of certain anachronistic assumptions we have about text; and I therefore what to argue here first tha tit isn't correct, and second -- more subversively -- that when the chips are down we don't really believe it at all." (267-8)

examines few surviving responses of theatergoers from 17th century

  • problematic, since some recalled scenes don't match the texts we have; can we "trust" these viewers?
"it is a mistake to believe that our sense of Shakespeare, whether we are scientific bibliographers or casual playgoers, is not 'contaminated', and indeed determined, by a myriad of other texts" (273)

verse vs. prose -- how to tell the difference in manuscript copies of plays?

  • "in dramatic transcripts, Crane did not make much of a distinction between prose and verse" (278)
  • "the shape of the text is dictated not by metrics, but by what the scribe wants his page to look like. The rule in dramatic manuscripts would seem to be that if it looks like prose, it is; and if it looks like verse, it may or may not be." (280)
  • "All this suggests that the questino of verse versus prose was a less pressing one to Jacobean playwrights, and to those concerned with the transmission of their texts, than it has been to the subsequent editorial tradition." (284)
"the instability of the texts, which the editorial tradition has consistently undertaken to control, is in fact what licenses it. Without recognizing that instability as evidence of anything at all, editors repeat precisely what they claim to guard against. The testimony of the text, in editorial practice, dissolves when contradicted by modern assumptions about verse and prose, by wholly anachronistic principles of taste and decorum, by notions of the disagreeable, the excessively conceited, the implausible, the incommunicable. As editors, we stage the plays we contemplate, and in the rpocess they become our own. We are closer to the Padua scribe or to Simon Forman than we may care to admit." (290-1)