Read e-book online A Rationale of Textual Criticism PDF

By G. Thomas Tanselle

ISBN-10: 0812214099

ISBN-13: 9780812214093

Textual criticism—the conventional time period for the duty of comparing the authority of the phrases and punctuation of a text—is usually thought of an project initial to literary feedback: many of us think that the activity of textual critics is to supply trustworthy texts for literary critics to research. G. Thomas Tanselle argues, to the contrary, that the 2 actions can't be separated.The textual critic, in making a choice on between textual variations and correcting what seem to be textual error, unavoidably routines severe judgment and displays a selected standpoint towards the character of literature. And the literary critic, in analyzing the which means of a piece or passage, has to be (though infrequently is) severe of the make-up of each textual content of it, together with these produced by way of scholarly editors.

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If that earlier document is destroyed, we are then forced to begin with the later one. We use whatever there is, but we must use the totality of evidence each document carries with it. The uniqueness of every written or printed copy of a text is the irreducible basis of every act of reading. These thoughts bring home to us with particular force the fragility of the thread by which verbal statements hang on to perpetual life. Those statements depend either on human memory (and a cultural climate in which they get repeated) or else, if written down, on the survival of documents.

Such cancellations and substitutions often occur after some copies have been sold or distributed, releasing to the world copies that differ from the earlier copies but that do not in any obvious way proclaim their distinction. Alteration can also easily occur between press runs from the same setting of type, and often the copies of the succeeding printing are not labeled as such or distinguished in any readily noticeable way from those of the earlier printing. 49 page_51 < previous page page_51 next page > Page 51 through wear and mishaps in such a way that some letters or marks of punctuation appear to be different ones.

There are peopleand frequently they consider themselves scholarswho work entirely with photocopies, making transcriptions from them and then proofreading against them. The results ought to be recognized for what they are: editions of the texts of photocopies, not editions of the texts of the original documents. All photocopies, and copies of photocopies, are separate documents, which are likely to mislead the editor who thinks they are adequate substitutes for originals. They can be interim substitutes; but to rely on them, believing that the originals need not be checked before an edition goes to press, is to display a profound misunderstanding of the nature of documentary evidence.

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A Rationale of Textual Criticism by G. Thomas Tanselle


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