Friday, December 30, 2011

Re ms of FLAWED TEXTS AND VERBAL ICONS--why diaries should be burned

—came across Christmas Day 2011. GG = Gerald Graff, then head of Northwestern University Press.

6 June 1983
Harry [on phone] . . . said at lunch wi GTT and GG last week he had suggested GG have Don Cook read the MS. I told HH I thought Cleanth Brooks or Wayne C. Booth might be more like it. I sd “It’s theoretical—its impact will be in critical theory,” and HH pronounced, “But it’s about editing.”. . .

Monday, December 26, 2011

Simon Morley's review of THE POWELL PAPERS in TLS 11 November 2011

My luck with the London TLS has been pretty erratic. They gave FLAWED TEXTS AND VERBAL ICONS to a Scottish versifier who had no idea at all what it was about. Then in 1997 there was ecstatic praise of the first volume of the biography by a man who had stolen the Hayford-Parker textual lists from our Norton MOBY-DICK years before. The 1997 review was for sale in all the book stores and news stands in London while we were there working in the British Library at Colindale, so it made for good ID. Later reviews have been pretty perfunctory. TLS gave THE POWELL PAPERS to a grad student, Simon Morley, who did not take time to read it, as his errors show. He was a Gloomy Gus who had absolutely no sense of fun. A reader of his review would gain no sense of its structure and never guess that the book contains much new material on topics such as Powell’s precipitating an American national re-evaluation of Dickens and pushing Herman Melville toward defining himself against Washington Irving. In one chapter, newly discovered documents show just how mercilessly, in the lack of international copyright, the Harpers exalted their cheap serialized Dickens while arguing that American writers like Melville must be sacrificed for the “public good.” The reader of the review would not guess that four pages of the book are devoted to a small comic masterpiece, Thomas Butler Gunn’s satire of Powell in his 1873 Paul Gower, the existence of which I discovered in 2008. There “Mr. Bowles” (a scatological pun Robert Browning also employed) is “an Englishman of whom there existed a curious tradition in the ranks of New York journalism: namely, that he had involuntarily set to Mr. Dickens for the portrait of Wilkins Micawber, or rather supplied the raw material for that immortal character.”

I had hoped reviewers would be entranced by the informative rogues’ gallery of an Index which features such figures as Augustus W. Clason, Jr., who beat the Scottish-born editor of the Herald with a dog whip; Valorous P. Coolidge, the Waterville, Maine, physician who murdered young Edward Mathews then took pay for performing the autopsy on him; David Russell Lee, the diminutive, febrile English-born reporter on theatre and law; and John Andrew Jackson Neafie, the carpenter turned actor who played Othello and toured with Forrest. Had he read this highly enjoyable Index, Morley, instead of referring to “the American novelist Thomas Gunn,” might have identified Thomas Butler Gunn rightly as belonging to the bustling cadre of British-born journalists and artists who flourished in late 19th-century Manhattan. Despite Morley’s gloomy report, I would like to recommend the sparkling Index and the rest of The Powell Papers as a tonic for the dark winter to come as well as an early contribution to the celebration of Dickens’s bicentennial?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Cousin Erica Rollings, the genius in the family--used in a Fuji ad

Head cousins, she is a Tindall.

Doris Miles and her mother, Ida Costner Edwards

This is Bonnie McMullan's picture.
It's her mother, Doris Miles, my mother's first cousin, and her mother, my mother's Aunt Ida.
Doris's husband was a Bell, so Bonnie and I are kin as Costners and Bells. Ida was kin to her stepchildren because she was a Stewart cousin of their late mother.
Doris lived to be a hundred, early this year--I think the longest living of any of her brothers and sisters and dozens of cousins.

Mother's Aunt Ada Costner

There is a strong resemblance to my mother, Martha Costner, and to me. Her sister Alice in old age looked even more strongly like my mother.

Ada Costner

This is from Bonnie McMullan's copy. Ada's niece Martha Costner, looks much like her, as I do.

Uncle Mode Costner and some of his family

This is Bonnie McMullan's picture of her grandmother's brother and some of his children. This is much clearer than the copy my mother (Mode's niece) had.

(Kevin Costner's great grandfather, the generations go so fast.)
This must have been taken in Guymon OT or Guymon OK--around the time of statehood.

Ad for the book version of AGAINST THEORY

This is to be read with the recent post on how critics have used FLAWED TEXTS AND VERBAL ICONS after the reviewers had dismissed it.--I mean the Sunday, December 18, 2011 piece
"How Critics in Fields Other than American Literature Have Applied FLAWED TEXTS AND VERBAL ICONS."

My article in CRITICAL INQUIRY which was reprinted as a chapter in AGAINST THEORY was an attempt to show literary theorists how literary authority can be lost so that even familiar literary texts at some points may "have no meaning, only partially authorial meaning, or quite adventitious meaning unintended by the author or anyone else." I thought that was fairly clear, but in their "Reply to Our Critics" Steven Knapp and Walter Benn Michaels declared, "Hirsch, Dowling, and Hershel Parker all agree with each other and with us that there can be no meaning without intention." Well, no, I said at some points some texts have no meaning or have quite adventitious meaning unintended by the author or anyone else," and gave specific examples. Were Knapp and Michaels so indoctrinated with the New Criticism that they simply could not read the words on the pages of my article?

No one understood FLAWED TEXTS AND VERBAL ICONS in 1984 and 1985. You see how astonished I have been in the last few years in seeing that Biblical scholars, medievalists, Shakespeare scholars and scholars of other Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, scholars of modern British fiction and others have found my arguments applicable to textual-aesthetic problems they have encountered.

It's a terrible thing to be ahead of your time but a good thing to live long enough to see people understanding perfectly well what you were saying a quarter century earlier!

P.S. Here's an example of a journal editor's making a change which blurred a distinction I was making.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Joe Jim Corbette Edwards, later the Indians baseball player

My mother's first cousin.

I am on the search for a totem for the composition of ORNERY PEOPLE. Corbette doesn't fit the category.

You can buy a 1993 reprint of one of his baseball cards.

P.S. This is a cousin of Kevin Costner's who really was "in the show."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

How Critics in Fields Other than American Literature Have Applied FLAWED TEXTS AND VERBAL ICONS

In 2007 while inching along a friend’s bookshelves in Manhattan I realized that my Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons had not, after all, been totally destroyed and forgotten. The general trashing was still vivid in my memory. Most of the reviewers quite rabidly tried to kill it--either to protect the New Criticism (at that late date) or to defend the not-yet discredited Greg-Bowers editorial theory and practice. In the Sewanee Review the critic said if I were right Western Civilization would crumble, since it is built on belief in the Word. Before and after 1984 several of my articles were suppressed after being accepted although all of them got into print eventually (one after 20 years in which editor after editor cringed in fear of Fredson Bowers). I have bought an IRIS scanner and hope to post at least one suppressed article on this blog.
After 1985 I had to make a new career as a biographer—not the worst of fates, it begins to seem. Remembering the comments I had seen in my friend’s books, in mid-July 2008 I glanced at Amazon's new list of anyone's books that cite references by relevance or date, in my case mainly books where the authors cite an edition of Melville I have edited, that sort of casual thing. You could, at least until recently, see from the listings on Amazon if anything of substance had been said about the book. I ended up spending several hours on the Amazon list for Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons, then I went down Google Books listings for it. I was astounded at what has been said in the years after the reviews were all in. Now, a quarter century later, the reputation of Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons is high, except with people who had committed themselves to praise of one seriously flawed text or another, and their loyal students.
What's most interesting is that an astonishing range of scholars--editors of the Bible! Classicists! Medievalists! Shakespearians! Musicologists! "Conservationists"! Students of the Modern British Novel—have earnestly applied Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons to problems they were grappling with. And in 2010 my 1981 ground-breaking preview of FT&VI, “The ‘New Scholarship’: Textual Evidence and its Implications for Criticism, Literary Theory, and Aesthetics,” was reprinted as the lead article in Ecdotica 6, Anglo-American Scholarly Editing, 1980-2005. I prepared this list in the hope that Northwestern would use it in an advertisement, a “Quarterly Report”—FT&VI, a quarter century later. That did not happen, but never mind--I’m glad to have lived long enough to see the book being used!

A STUDY OF DON QUIXOTE (1987), by Daniel Eisenberg, cited in Introduction on "the problem of validity in interpretation."

Jonathan Z. Smith, "'Narratives into Problems': The College Introductory Course and the Study of Religion," Journal of the American Academy of Religion (1988): "For a stunning set of examples of editorial and compositional histories, drawn from modern American literature, which I have used with profit as supplementary reading in my introductory, year-long course, 'The Bible in Western Civilization,' see Parker." The new (around 2000?) Dutton edition of EXODUS (the biblical Exodus) cites me in FT&VI as an authority on authority, so I am not surprised to be assigned in a year-long course in the Bible in Western Civilization!

LITERARY THEORY'S FUTURE(S), 1989, ed. Joseph Natoli. David Gorman writes here the most extensive treatment of my ideas in comparison with those of McGann and Tanselle--several pages, very intelligent. Gorman ends by saying: "I do not propose to adjudicate the debates between Tanselle, Parker, McGann, or their colleagues, but only to point them out to critics who may not be familiar with this material. The level on which their theoretical debate is taking place is very high indeed, and one that should put many theorists of interpretive criticism to shame. "

NEW CRITICAL APPROACHES TO THE SHORT STORIES OF ERNEST HEMINGWAY (1990), Jackson J. Benson: . . . "Their work and that of their colleagues cited earlier has enlivened criticism of the stories, but it still faces the demanding theoretical questions raised by Hershel Parker (1984).

THE THEORY AND PRACTICE OF TEXT-EDITING: ESSAYS IN HONOUR OF JAMES R. BOULTON, eds. Ian Small and Marcus Walsh (1991): . . . "questioning by theorists of the stature of Bowers and Hershel Parker" . . . .

PEDAGOGY IS POLITICS: LITERARY THEORY AND CRITICAL TEACHING (1992), Maria-Regina Kecht: She's talking about standard New Critical close reading, and continues: "It [the New Criticism] further assumes that the texts we have are the texts the authors wrote, thus conveniently ignoring the interference of publication as an economic and cultural institution, including the effects of both editorial intervention and simple error in transmission, which, as Hershel Parker has argued, has been considerable. I am not talking simply about textual cruxes in historically distant works like Hamlet or the lyrics of Sappho."

THE EXCLUDED AND COLLABORATIVE STORIES OF THOMAS HARDY (1992), ed. Pamela Dalziel: She writes about "the vexed issue of subsequent authorial revision," the "question of whether or not authors (to use Hershel Parker's terminology) fail to 're-enter' the original creative process and thus violate the integrity of their work, producing 'maimed' texts. The most comprehensive statement of Parker's position is [FT&VI]. . . . Simon Gatrell maintains a much more conservative position than Parker's but does demonstrate that many of Thomas Hardy's late revisions fundamentally alter the direction of the novels."

THE TAO AND THE LOGOS: LITERARY HERMENEUTICS, EAST AND WEST (1992), Zhang Longxi, Lung-hsi Chang, Longxi Zhang: "The Testimony of Praxis": "Among the critics who contributed to the collection of essays written in response to Knapp's and Michaels' intentionalist argument, Hershel Parker contends from a textual scholar's practical point of view that a literary text is not an immutable arrangement of words and that its meaning is much more complicated than Hirsch, Knapp, and Michaels have taken it to be. Parker cites as evidence alterations in the novels by Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Theodore Dreiser, Norman Mailer and others to show that sometimes, because of authorial revision or editorial patching, a passage in a text may embody 'two different and contradictory authorial intentions rather than one,' and that 'non-meanings, partially authorial meanings, and inadvertent, intentionless meanings coexist in standard literary texts with genuine authorial meanings.' Such emperical evidence should make it clear that a text does not always mean what its author intends . . . ."

CRUX AND CONTROVERSY IN MIDDLE ENGLISH TEXTUAL CRITICISM (1992), Alastair J. Minnis and Charlotte Brewer: Substantial paragraph including: "The problem for the New Critics of more recent literature, Hershel Parker has argued, was that they were confronted by a plethora of facts which belied the transhistorical permanence and organic unity of the text."

POLITICS AND VALUE IN ENGLISH STUDIES: A DISCIPLINE IN CRISIS (1993), Josephine M. Guy and Ian Small: . . . "All of these questions implicate, in different ways and to varying degrees, the contested concepts which we have discussed in the previous chapters, those of literary value and literary identity, authority and canonicity. In other words, as Hershel Parker has pointed out, text-editing, far from being marginal to English studies, forces us to confront the central problems in the discipline."

THE PAST AND FUTURE OF MEDIEVAL STUDIES (1994), John H. Van Engen: In his bracing book, Hershel Parker demonstrates . . . .[ck p. 236]

WRITING "HUCK FINN": MARK TWAIN'S CREATIVE PROCESS (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993), 272. Victor A. Doyno quotes a paragraph from FT&V as "a cogent statement on the role of intentionality in the creative process."

"Ethnopoetics, Oral-Formulaic Theory, and Editing Texts," in Oral Tradition 9/2 (1994), Dell Hymes, in a section on "Editing and Value": "Discovering Cultee's handling of omissions, discovering Lewis Simpson's ordering of lines, are examples of recovering intention (cf. Gorman 1989:194, discussing Parker 1984): "One is concerned with what the narrator actually said, with authenticity. This has been a primary value for many. In these cases the recovered intention supports a form of the text that has greater aesthetic value, if, as I believe is the case, there is aesthetic value in the shape the narrators have given what they say."

TEXTUAL CRITICISM AND MIDDLE ENGLISH TEXTS (1994), Tim William Machan: "The problem for New Critics critics of more recent literature, Hershel Parker has argued, was that they were confronted by a plethora of facts that belied the transhistorical permanence and organic unity of the work. For numerous nineteenth- and twentieth-century novels, for instance, there exist holographs, corrected proofs, letters, and several editions produced within the author's lifetime that provide evidence about the genesis of the work and that may reveal that the verbal icon is cracked and chipped. To use two of Parker's examples . . . . Hershel Parker, thus, has stressed the historical context of the creative act itself, which in his view has a beginning, a middle, and an end. An author, according to Parker, cannot return to a work years after its original composition without tampering with the initial intention . . . . Though Tanselle and Parker offer cogent arguments, they critique the specifics of socialized views without entirely abandoning the theoretical framework of humanist textual criticism..

In a chapter in David McWhirter's 1995 HENRY JAMES'S NEW YORK EDITION: THE CONSTRUCTION OF AUTHORSHIP, on the basis of FT&VI, I am treated in two pages as emblematic of one of two opposing views on James as a reviser, Parker vs. Horne.

EDITING D. H. LAWRENCE: NEW VERSIONS OF A MODERN AUTHOR (1995), eds. Charles L. Ross and Dennis Jackson. A couple of significant mentions including this from Michael Squires: ". . . when Jerome McGann, Hershel Parker, and Thomas Tanselle can challenge so differently the issues involved in creating a scholarly text, then assumptions about base-text, authorial intention, and forms of textual apparatus need to be clearly defined."

SCHOLARLY EDITING: A GUIDE TO RESEARCH (1995) (several references)

TEXTUALTERITY: ART, THEORY, AND TEXTUAL CRITICISM (1995), ed. Joseph Grigely: "The notion of textuality is recessive against a foreground of critical theory: Jerome McGann stands out not as a textual theorist, but as a political historicist; Hershel Parker not as a textual theorist, but as a hermaneut. There is nothing amiss here: as a purveyor of caveats, Bakhtin sounds almost like Fredson Bowers in the 1950s or Hershel Parker in the 1980s warning us that if we are to engage in textual excursions, we have the responsibility (to authors and to ourselves) to know where we are going before we go."

ANGLO-AMERICAN TEXTUAL CRITICISM AND THE CASE OF HANS WALTER GABLER'S EDITION OF ULYSSES, (1996) Genesis 9, Geert Lernout: Even more explicitly Gabler has analyzed the differences between Anglo-American and German approaches in 'Unsought Encounters' and there he explicitly refers to French critique génétique in order to reject Hershel Parker's historicist return to authorial intentons." [cites Gabler 1991]

SCHOLARLY EDITING IN THE COMPUTER AGE (1996), Peter Shillingsburg: "Authorial intentions for the whole work--the message or impressions, the organization, or the particular sequence of words and punctuation--may change in some ways, while they remain constant in others. (This point is illustrated several times over by Hershel Parker when, in the process of illustrating a different idea, he gives several instances in which the effect of an unrevised passage is changed radically when changes are made elsewhere in the text.) . . . . Parker gives a complicated example when he shows how certain changes in the book form of Norman Mailer's An American Dream had apparently unintended effects. The new version is complicated, since it contains at least one new set of intentions but leaves unattended the results of what might be judged incomplete, if not ill-conceived, [revisions]."

THE LIFE AND THE ART: A STUDY OF CONRAD'S UNDER WESTERN EYES (1996) by Keith Carabine: "A textual scholar's knowledge of the dramatically different MSS versions, including revisions, cuts, and additions, often made because of interruptions at different times, inevitably highlights, as Hershel Parker discovered, an author's writing habits and rhythms, his choices and decisions, his transformations, pervading thoughts, aesthetic and (dread word) intentions. . . . Like Parker, I also discovered that I could not 'avoid the test of 'reader response' in judging the effects of textual alterations."

CAMBRIDGE HISTORY OF AMERICAN LITERATURE, Vol. 6 (1996), Sacvan Bercovitch: "Though Hershel Parker . . . rejects many of the readings encouraged by recent theory, he encourages a similarly theory-informed editing practice . . . ."

David Holdeman, MUCH LABOURING: THE TEXTS AND AUTHORS OF YEATS'S FIRST MODERNIST BOOKS (1997): "Hershel Parker . . . might almost be regarded as McGann's 'anti-self' (to use a Yeatsian term). Like McGann, Parker contests the ontological assumptions of Greg-Bowers editing and of the criticism it underpins, but he interests himself entirely in authorial texts and meanings, constructing a hermeneutics that privileges manuscripts and those early creative processes that he believes are affected least by sociohistorical contexts. Unlike Parker or McGann, most literary and cultural thinkers have yet even to become aware that texts and works are materially unstable, let alone to consider a range of possible approaches to their textual constitution."

Peter J. Rabinowitz, BEFORE READING: NARRATIVE CONVENTIONS AND THE POLITICS OF INTERPRETATION (1997): "I am not referring here to the problems of interpretation that arise because authors simply fail at the act of writing, or because, when editors are allowed to muddle with finished texts, authors, as Hershel Parker puts it, 'very often lose authority, with the result that familiar literary texts at some points have no meaning, only partially authorial meaning, or quite adventitious meaning unintended by the author or anyone else.' Even beyond this . . . ."

Richard B. Schwartz, AFTER THE DEATH OF LITERATURE (Carbondale: SIU Press, 1997), 69: "I will discuss the position of the author in a later chapter. Here I would like briefly to look at the question of the creative process and to address it from the perspective of the bibliographer. Hershel Parker has argued that 'for all their cosmic recklesness, the deconstructionists hold to the bland New Critical assurance that any text is compete and ready for their manipulations' (p. 233). The comment comes from Parker's Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons: Literary Authority in American Fiction, a book that should be better known. Parker's point is that the 'text,' whose self-undermining the deconstructionist seeks to demonstrate, like the 'text' whose image clusters, ironies, and ambiguities the New Critic seems to explore, is, naively, actually believed to exist."

Jesus Tronch Perez, "New Old Readings in the Texts of Hamlet," SEDERI (1998). For FT&VI I am cited as one of 7 who have offered alternative "editorial approaches" which "focus on the social and collaborative aspects of the production of literary texts, on their cultural and historical dimension, or on their multiplicity, and their unstable, fluid nature."

TEXTUAL TRANSGRESSIONS: ESSAYS TOWARD THE CONSTRUCTION OF A BIOBIBLIOGRAPHY (1998). David C. Greetham. There are references all along, including this: "Some 'theoretical' journals have published articles by textual scholars [fn: "For example, the 'theoretical' journal Critical Inquiry first published part of chapter I of Parker's Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons under the title "Lost Authority: Non-Sense, Skewed Meanings, and Intentionless Meanings," reprinted in Against Theory, ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (1985), pp. 72-79. This collection, which will be used later in this essay to provide some of the terms for the theory/empiricism debate, included, appropriately enough, contributions by Hirsch, Mailloux, Fish, and Rorty."] and the more adventurous literary critics have, on occasion, included textual problems in their consideration of theory . . . [but] for the most part, the literary theorists have continued their work as if there had been no advances in textual-critical theory in the last few decades . . . .
And this: "Hershel Parker's recent textual career has been dominated by a concern for . . . self-contradictions in American fiction of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, where the argument is that these texts cannot be read as if they were single creative entities. However, Parker's 'knot of indeterminacy' could presumably be avoided with enough auctorial and editorial care and control, whereas (according to Hillis Miller at least), the deconstructor merely demonstrates the native aporia of the text--he does not create it, and it is, in fact, inevitable.

THE EDITORIAL GAZE: MEDIATING TEXTS IN LITERATURE AND THE ARTS (1998), ed. Paul Eggert: "But on these grounds--of ideological and intellectual consistency--could we not reject the religious apotheosis at the end of Chaucer's Troilus, undermining the values of fin amour in the body of the poem. And, as Hershel Parker has displayed in a series of close textual readings of various classics of American fiction--from Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson to Mailer's American Dream--if we were to demand the resolution of all narrative and perceptual inconsistencies before admitting a singular authorial presence to the multiform acts of composition, we would be left with a very small canonical list indeed. Sometimes authors may not even notice, or may not even care, that they are speaking in more than one voice. Does this matter? Well, yes, it does matter . . . .
PROCESSES OF LITERARY CREATION: FLAUBERT AND PROUST (1998), Marion Schmid: . . . "[See] from the perspective of textual criticism, Hershel Parker's powerful critique [FT&VI], in particular the conclusion, 'Textual Evidence and the Current Practice of Theory.'"

SHAKESPEAREAN ILLUMINATIONS (1998), eds. Halio, Richmond, Rosenberg: "Parker is particularly good on differentiating an author's intentions from both accidental and purposeful revisions that interfere with an author's clearest vision. He asserts that revision, even by the author alone, can lead to 'unintended, uncontrolled effects.' But [Roman] Polanski's scripts and film are amazingly free from 'stubs,' leftovers from early versions that disrupt artistic unity."

Andrew Galloway, "Uncharacterizable Entities: The Poetics of Middle English Scribal Culture and the Definitive Piers Plowman," Studies in Bibliography, 52 (1999):
Hanna's distinctions here [about "two different kinds of attention to the text--not 'authorial' versus 'non-authorial,' but different kinds of authorial intention"] resemble what Hershel Parker has argued about revisions of American fiction, when preexisting chunks are not reworked in detail and are left as vestiges of previous textual intentions that collide with new, often less meticulously integrated layers of material. In the case of Piers, this helps explain how the B text was the poet's only meticulously thorough revision, while RF and C were much more topically specific productions responding to more specific, and in part externally generated pressures.

TEXTS READING TEXTS, SACRED AND SECULAR: TWO POSTMODERN PERSPECTIVES (1999), Alison M. Jack, pp. 16-17--elaborate treatment of HP's ideas in relation to Biblical scholarship, the topic being "the parallel concerns of biblical and literary studies, and in particular the literary study of the Bible."

THEORIES OF THE TEXT (1999), David Greetham: 136-140, "Parker's Flawed Texts" and "The System of Signs": "And it is this personally emptied, iconic, and organic quality of formalism, redolent in Wimsatt and Beardsley's Verbal Icon and in the Neo-Aristolelians' rejection of history in favour of a concentration on eidos and synolon, that Hershel Parker confronts and attempts to undermine in a book whose very title is a direct assault on New Critical assumptions about artefactual unity and organicism . . . . I have emphasized Parker's giving privilege to process over static icon because his critique of the textual formalism of the ideal-text school specifically rejects ideality in favour of history. . . . [F]ormalist criticism of both literary and textual varieties is essentially synchronic, idealistic, and monologic. If it were not so, then Parker's attempts to reintroduce a Bakhtinian, polyphonic 'heteroglossia' into the simplification of text promoted by Greg, Bowers, and Tanselle would have already been subsumed into the modernist procedures of ideal-text editing. . . . 195-204, "Social Intention: McGann" and "Parker and Full Intentionality." More: "But Parker's and Derrida's concerns, while differently motivated, are not dissimilar in their application: both tend to take the specific image, scene, or fragmentary moment, and to work the implications and ambiguities of this moment in its reflective qualities throughout the text (back and forth), to allow it to accomplish the dismantling of the logic of the text as a whole. Both are interested in the 'traces' of meaning left in a text, and both are concerned with différance, the reader's continually having to 'defer' a conclusive, closed interpretation of a text. To both critics, texts are embarrassments, embarrassments of narrative and of logic."

Shakespeare, Richard III, ed. Janis Lull (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 218: "Like other scholarly editors, Shakespeareans have also begun to question the goal of reconstructing texts as authors intended them, finding that 'intention' and 'author' are more complicated categories than they once seemed, especially since the texts in question were written for performance. . . . For some editorial theorists, of course, 'best,' 'final' and 'most considered intentions are not necessarily the same things. See especially Hershel Parker, Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons . . . .

"A Defining Moment in Ezra Pound's Cantos: Musical Scores and Literary Texts," Mark Byron, in LITERATURE AND MUSIC, ed. Michael J. Meyer (Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi, 2002): "As Hershel Parker has observed, much literary theory and literary criticism proceeds on the tacit assumption of the text's cohesion as an integrated object of analysis: 'the text itself' or 'the words on the page.' In recent years, however, textual criticism has sought to construct a notion of the text that can accommodate fragments, variants, manuscript and typescript stages, and the contributing hands of several productive identities. . . ."

BECOMING MARIANNE MOORE (2002), Robin G. Schulze: "Many critics have noted the apparent complicity between the Greg/Bowers method of editing and the interpretive goals of the New Criticism. . . . See . . . Hershel Parker's account of the textual demands of the New Criticism in Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons . . . . In his analysis of a series of problematic and unstable nineteenth-century American texts, Parker argues that the New Critics suppressed accounts of the creative processes of nineteenth-century authors like Twain and Melville principally for the sake of the textual unity they demanded as the bedrock of their critical method--accounts that, in Parker's view, reveal that authorial intention "can be blurred or wholly lost." [Schulze in a 1997 book cites the 1984 FT&VI, implying that it was common to link Greg's theory of copy-text and the New Criticism. In fact, I believe, no one besides me was noting the apparent complicity between the Greg/Bowers method of editing and the interpretive goals of the New Criticism. Later, yes, others joined in.]

NARRATIVE DYNAMICS: ESSAYS ON TIME, PLOT, CLOSURE, AND FRAMES (2002), Brian Richardson: "It is, though, risky to talk about coherence in a work as textually tangled as this one [Pudd'nhead Wilson]; for a discussion of the problems, see" [FT&VI] . . . .

THE BOOK HISTORY READER (2002): in McGann's "The Socialization of Texts": "Nonetheless, Parker, like Aristotle, would not want to collapse the distinction between these two kinds of work because they epitomize the difference between a form of writing that is committed to facticity and information, and a form that is, by contrast, devoted to creation. History and literature differ, that is to say, along the line of their intentionalities. This being the case, we find in Parker's work a passionate engagement with the issue of literary intention. . . . Contemporary text theory, in the arena of literary scholarship, founded itself on the idea of authorial intentions. . . . For Parker, the sole criterion on which a literary-editorial project ought to be based is the criterion of authorial intention. . . . Parker criticizes the eclectic approach because it violates his notion of artistic integrity. The creative process for him is the artist's rage for order, which cannot be well approximated when an editor seeks for rationally derived compromises. . . ..

"The Close Reader; Get Me Rewrite," Judith Shulevitz, New York Times 6 April 2003: "In a 1984 book called Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons, Hershel Parker, the great Melville scholar, explains why original versions often do seem so superior. Parker advances a theory of the creative process borrowed from the philosopher John Dewey, who believed that meaning is built into a text as it is composed, step by step. Meaning is a function of all the choices made and problems solved in the act of creation, not of prior intentions or after-the-fact conclusions. Great artists, Dewey said, 'learn by their work as they proceed, to see and feel what had not been part of their original plan and purpose.' Emily Dickinson, in a poem . . . called inspiration 'the White Heat.' For Parker this is an almost technical description of how literature is forged. Writers do what they can while the metal is hot, and should not attempt patch-up jobs after it has cooled."

"The Thick Style: Steady Sellers, Textual Aesthetics, and Early Modern Devotional Reading," Matthew P. Brown, PMLA (January 2006: "Book history has tended to investigate questions of literary merit in the light of the social uses of aesthetics, examining the contingencies that construct the value of particular texts. If book historians and bibliographers throw cold water on the literary critic's passion for certain authors and genres, they nevertheless remain fairly mute on qualities of a text that foreground the imaginative and the interpretive. This is perhaps a legacy of the scientism behind W. W. Greg's 'pure bibliography' and the quantitative emphasis behind book history's macrological approaches. Within book studies, editorial theory has been more propositional about the literary. Whether implicit in D. F. McKenzie's belief in an aesthetic of decorous professionalism--embodied in William Congreve--or avowed in Hershel Parker's defense of creative frenzy, editors refreshingly document relations between the materiality of a text and its aesthesis.

"MARK TWAIN, CRITICISM, AND THE LIMITS OF CREATIVITY" Creavity Research Journal 15 (July 2003), Gary P. Henrickson, cites FT&VI as criticizing “the persistent tendency to treat any literary text as a verbal icon, a unique, perfect, and essentially [rest of quotation not recovered yet!]. . . ."

NOW I KNOW ONLY SO FAR: ESSAYS IN ETHNOPOETICS (2003), Dell H. Hymes: "Editing and Value": "Discovering Cultee's handling of omissions, discovering Louis Simpson's ordering of lines, are examples of recovering intention (cf. Gorman 1989, 194: discussing Parker 1984). One is concerned with what the narrator actually said, with authenticity. This has been a primary value for many."

VOICE, TEXT, HYPERTEXT: EMERGING PRACTICES IN TEXTUAL STUDIES (2004), Raiomonda Modiano, Leroy Searle, and Peter L. Shillingsburg; reprinted in FROM GUTENBERG TO GOOGLE (2006): "In their very different ways, Hershel Parker and Jerry McGann have done as much as any of us to focus attention on the interpretive significance of textual histories. They have accomplished this primarily through critical analyses of texts, rather than through the production of the works they have edited. It is the essays and books they have written that have brought the consequences of textual insights to the wider attention of literate people."

PUDD'NHEAD WILSON, ed. Alyssa Harad (New York: Pocket Books, 2004): "In his witty and much-cited essay on the construction of Twain's novel, Parker provides a detailed history, based on his own archival research, of the composition and revision of the manuscript that was eventually published as Pudd'nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins. He exposes both Twain's deceptions and the biases of various critics . . . toward a search for unity.'"

THE TRAGEDY OF KING LEAR: THE NEW CAMBRIDGE SHAKESPEARE (2005), Jay Halio: extensive paragraph on problem in the text of King Lear and how FT&VI is applicable to those problems. "Much of his argument is of course applicable to other forms of literature, perhaps even--or especially--to plays which are above all forms of literature highly susceptible to the pressures of production, box-office concerns, shifts in taste or decorum (not to mention morality), and so forth."

James J. O'Hara, TRYING NOT TO CHEAT: RESPONSES TO INCONSISTENCIES IN ROMAN EPIC (Transactions of the American Philological Association, 2005): "Parker presents some pretty funny examples of elaborate theories worked out to interpret inconsistencies . . . where he can prove, using diaries and other documents, that the inconsistencies were introduced by lazy revisions, poor or puritanical editing, or even typesetting errors. Classicists may well think of Timpanaro's discussion of The Freudian Slip and his contention that many of the errors that Freud described as signs of repressed unpleasant memories are instead the kind of simple mistakes of banalization, haplography, or simplification that are familiar to anyone who has worked with either the manuscripts of classical texts or the proofs of journal articles. After bringing up Parker's work, let me mention . . . other work that has been useful to me."

THE BOOK AS ARTEFACT: TEXT AND BORDER (2005), Annenette Hansen: "Some significant efforts have actually been made to bridge both the theoretical and practical divisions between textual critics and literary critics. Fredson Bowers's Textual and Literary Criticism (1959) put the case from one side, asking that the views of textual critics concerning the interpretive enterprise be acknowledged by literary critics. Hershel Parker's Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons presented the case from an interpretive critic's point of view, but he managed to alienate both sides of the debate, telling textual critics that they had been pursuing the wrong goal and telling literary critics that adventitious readings plagued their work. There was more than a little truth in Parker's remarks on both sides, but his work failed to reconcile the disparity of views.

THE ACADEMIC'S HANDBOOK (2006), eds. A. Leigh DeNeef and Craufurd D. Goodwin, fn says in FT&VI I "recurringly make this point among much more substantial reasons." [need to see the book to know what the point is]

Kelly Lynn Tully-Needler, LAST WORD IN ART SHADES: THE TEXTUAL STATE OF JAMES JOYCE'S ULYSSES (2007): "Hershel Parker also issued a challenge to the Bowers-Tanselle notion of final authorial intentions. . . . Parker privileges initial intentions above final in some case studies . . . . Parker also engages the psychology of creation, and the economic and political factors of publication, to situate an author in a social continuum."

Robert S. Kawashima, "Comparative Literature and Biblical Studies: The Case of Allusion," PROOFTEXTS 27 (2007). Comparison to Robert Alter. Cites FT&VI as authority for this summary: "Certain novels actually contain internal inconsistencies and tensions, analogous to those incongruities discovered by biblical source criticism, that can only be accounted for in terms of the artistic process--an interruption in writing, editorial, intrusion, and so on."

In the MLA GUIDELINES FOR EDITORS OF SCHOLARLY EDITIONS (2007): Parker, Hershel. Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons: Literary Authority in American Fiction. Evanston: Northwestern UP, 1984. "Starting from analyses of revisions by Herman Melville, Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, and Norman Mailer, Parker pleads for more attention to textual composition and the development of (sometimes self-contradictory) authorial intentions, which an institutionalized editorial method is often unable to represent."
THE PILGRIM AND THE BEE: READING RITUALS AND BOOK CULTURE IN EARLY NEW ENGLAND, Matthew P. Brown (2007): "Whether implicit in D. F. McKenzie's belief in an aesthetic of decorous professionalism--embodied in Congreve--or avowed in Hershel Parker's defense of creative frenzy, editors refreshingly document relationships between the materiality of a text and its aesthetics. . . . George Borstein's contribution . . . like [that of] McKenzie and Parker, lucidly blends practical criticism and theoretical insight."

PALGRAVE ADVANCES IN HENRY JAMES STUDIES (2007), ed. Peter Rawlings, "Mastering Critical Theory," by Sheila Teahan: "As Hershel Parker comments about James's ambivalent and emotionally fraught reunion in he prefaces with his earlier works in particular, the James who emerges in such pages is 'more interesting than James the master-reviser, or even James the aesthetic law-giver. . . . In remounting he stream of time James was recapturing, however imperfectly, not only something of what existed on the printed pages before him but also much that had never known the permanence of ink. He was entering into a life not just of visible achievement but also of pervasive if invisible loss.'"
Linda Simon,The Critical Reception of Henry James, (Rochester, Boydell & Brewer, 2007).
The New Critics, writing generations later [than Percy Lubbock and Richard Blackmur], did not contradict such portrayals; as Hershel Parker argued in Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons: Literary Authority in American Fiction (1984), they focused exclusively on James's formal and aesthetic choices in revisions for the New York Edition and did not question James's claims in the prefaces. . . . Formalist critics, Parker saw, produced "a string of more or less mechanical studies in which James is found to be a good reviser, or, very seldom, is found to have revised incautiously. . . .
In general, formalist critics who wrote about the prefaces did not correlate textual variants of James's novels to come to their own conclusions about James's achievements, nor did they relate the different stages of revision--and often there had been several--including the New York Edition, to James's life and goals at the time; they did not consult James's notebooks, which were published in 1947, nor his letters, a selection of which also apeared in print. Instead, they took at face value James's disclosures about his motivations, the various inspirations for his stories, his aesthetic goals, and his hopes for his readers' responses. "The enduring appeal of the old notion of achieving the archetype," Parker notes, "is obvious from the number of critics who espoused it, but it turns out under examination to be very curious indeed." No writer, Parker argues, "can intend to mean something before he is able to state that meaning in words." . . .
Parker [asserted] that publishing the prefaces as an edition in itself separated them from the novels to which they were attached and therefore distorted James's intention in writing them. In lifting the prefaces from their contexts, Blackmur insists that they represent a unified theory of literature that James did not elaborate on his own. What James did consider, Parker argues, was the act of creativity and his relationship to his reader. "Throughout the prefaces," Parker notes, "James describes his role as author in various ways, including bricklayer, builder, conjurer, craftsman, creator, critic of life, dramatist, fabulist, magician, painter, and parent." . . . James often accuses the reader of not reading correctly and of having expectations of the author that James will not meet. He resists the idea that the public can "own" a writer. In fact, Parker says, "James sees himself above most of his readers--sees himself as an artist, a poet--far different from the mass consumers of the commercial public." . . .
Parker echoed Bell's and Moore's complaints, regretful, especially, that many scholars and critics did not examine biographical evidence in their studies analyzing James's revisions. That perspective is understandable, Parker admitted, because "for biographical research James is a special case, a major writer on whom the biographical materials were, to an extraordinary degree, monopolized by one man, Leon Edel. The inherent danger in the decision of James's heirs to invest exclusive privilege in one person was infinitely compounded when the man so privileged came to be jealous of his territory and rather idiosyncratic in his literary judgments."

"Revision as a 'Living Affair' in Henry James's New York Edition," 2008 Henry James Review, J. Stephen Murphy:
"[The choice of the Library of America to print earlier, unrevised texts of James's works] is a decision that many contemporary editors would approve and that would surely be endorsed by Hershel Parker, the most vocal proponent of the earlier editions' superiority over the New York Edition. . . . [Philip] Roth and [Thomas] Pynchon treat their work as if it belongs to another time, as an historical event does, and, to another person. The early texts are treated as if written by someone else. So too do Hershel Parker and the Library of America regard James’s oeuvre. Parker accuses James of “impos[ing] himself upon a younger conception and execution” (170).

"Editing the Scholarly Edition of The Song of the Lark," Ann Moseley, American Literary Realism, No. 41 (Winter 2009), 133-153: Parker's observation that "Late revisions may . . . spring from a belated instinct to protect oneself from what was too recklessly conveyed during the throes of composition" seems to apply to this situation . . . . [149] Parker criticizes the New Critics for not going "beyond" the author's text to consider "rough drafts, manuscripts, contracts, and the like." My interpretation of the concept of relevant artifacts that go "geyond" the text includes any secondary document that contributes directly and significantly to an understanding of the text in question." [147]

Paul Eggert, Securing the Past: Conservation in Art, Architecture, and Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009) p. 106: "The artist-sculptor Liz Magor's "problem is the problem of all conservation, just as the problem of the author's revision is the problem of all editing. The latter activity (assuming its presence is established) is unable to be part of the original moment, whether or not undertaken by the same person. Hershel Parker has demonstrated the problems for scholarly editors who would attempt to conjoin in a single reading text the results of radically separate acts of composition or revision."

Text as Process: Creative Composition in Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Dickinson, Sally Bushell (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009): "Jack Stillinger and Hershel Parker require further consideration here as the two Anglo-American scholars whose work seems most to anticipate this study . . . ."

Politics and Value in English Studies: A Discipline in Crisis, Josephine M. Guy and Ian Small (2009), 138-139:
"Here . . . the term 'textual pluralism' is misleading, for it does not refer to textual pluralism, but only to 'interpretative' pluralism; as Barthes's reading of 'Sarrasine' demonstrates, it refers only to the plural readings of a single, stable text. . . . On this point see Hershel Parker . . . ."

[gap of a couple of years here—need to add recent comments]

Jennifer A. Low and Nova Myhill, eds., Imagining the Audience in Early Modern Drama (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), a chapter by Jeremy Lopez, “Fitzgrave’s Jewel: Audience and Anticlimax in Middleton and Shakespeare” (p. 204): “Parker’s book is about the relationship between textual variation and critical interpretation in American literature, but his method and his conclusions—particularly chapter 2, ‘The Determinacy of the Creative Process’—have been very influential for my thinking in this essay and are pertinent to the study of early modern drama in a way few critics have recognized.”

The 17 April 2009 TLS complained about the "Anniversary Edition" of Terry Eagleton's Literary Theory: "While the Afterword catalogues, in desultory footnotes, some more recent work, none of these was published after 1995. This means that there is no real discussion of developments in the field since 1983, and nothing at all from the past fifteen or so years, so no trauma theory, memory studies, eco-criticism, cognitive literary criticism, identity politics, disability theory, renewed debate about authorial intention, sexuality, ethical criticism, the return of Romanticism, renewed interest in aesthetics or contemporary hermeneutics, to name only a few recent areas of interest." By contrast, FT&VI, published the year after Literary Theory, was built on memory studies (especially that of Ulrich Neisser), cognitive literary criticism (citing the work of the Gibsons), authorial intention, sexuality in creativity (using Albert Rothenberg), the ethics of literary criticism (expanded in "Auteur-Author Paradox" (1995), and aesthetics (in complicated relationship to textual scholarship, reader response evidence, and creativity studies). Judging from the list of "recent" areas of study, Flawed Texts and Verbal Icons, unlike Literary Theory, does not look outdated.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mark, Heddy, Hershel, Mert, in Landenberg

Mark Niemeyer, Heddy, Hershel, Merton M. Sealts, Jr.

The Bash Bish House

I could not imagine where a hotel could have stood in 1863 when Sarah Morewood took her last drive. A great Berkshire County Resource Person, Mandy Victor, found this advertisement and a great photograph. All Hail, Local Resource People!


I use a totem for every book. I've taken down and am putting away this one, which watched over MELVILLE BIOGRAPHY: AN INSIDE NARRATIVE. I have not decided what the totem for ORNERY PEOPLE will be. That may be why I have not started it yet.

Aunt Olive Glenn's family

Olive outlived her sister Amanda, my great grandmother, by decades, and told stories.

Her Scot-Cherokee father, a Mexican War volunteer, was six feet five and her Uncle George, who enlisted with her father, was six feet four. Her brother John was about that height, I remember, and topped it all with a black stove pipe hat. He was extremely dark, showing the Choctaw and Cherokee blood. Olive does not look particularly dark here, but her niece, my grandmother, did. Olive is doubly Glenn-Tucker, from mother and father, and therefore part of the Jarndyce vs Jarndyce Indian Territory lawsuits.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Brenda Wineapple's Repudiation of the Responsibility to do her Homework

Jay Leyda had taken the Virginian of the Mosses essay as speaking for Melville when he declared he had never met Hawthorne. When I worked through the 1850 Augusta Papers for 1850 for the 1988 Northwestern-Newberry Moby-Dick Historical Note I constructed, mainly from Maria Melville's letters, a day-by-day account of the first two weeks of August 1850. I had then far more evidence than anyone else had worked with and felt no joy at all in discovering that Jay Leyda had been wrong. Once a detailed narrative of early August 1850 was in print in the 1988 NN Moby-Dick, in my 1996 biography, and in the 2001 Norton Moby-Dick, I assumed that critics would take note of these latest findings. In my view, to take one example, Brenda Wineapple in her 2003 biography of Hawthorne had an obligation to work through the evidence and clarify or supplement it. Instead, she declared: "Though it's not clear when Melville began the review, whether before or after meeting Hawthorne, it's obvious that Melville was smitten with Hawthorne and his work" (224). The Harlequin Romance vulgarity of "smitten" aside, it's worth pointing out that accuracy here makes a difference for Hawthorne biography as well as Melville biography, and any biographer writing about the meeting of the two men and the composition of the essay has a duty to acknowledge the facts. It is perfectly clear that Melville met Hawthorne before starting to write the Mosses essay. Wineapple simply did not do her homework about Melville's writing of the Mosses essay. She thwarts the goal of all real scholars, which is to make an advance in knowledge that others will build on.

Essie Rogers Jones, who lived in 3 centuries but not very long in 2 of them

Essie on her 90th birthday.
Her father, she said, was a "full-blooded Irishman"--who unaccountably, I thought, had disembarked in Indian Territory, the Choctaw Nation, in the 1880s. He was, I figured out from censuses, a Scot, born in Arkansas from parents from Perry, Tennessee--typical Scotch-Irish. He was illiterate. Before meals he said grace in Choctaw, the language of his mother-in-law.

Essie looks Indian, but when she was young she was red-headed, like her white father.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Uncle Ed Tucker's Orneriness after the Civil War

Edward Tucker . . . was called upon by Chief McCurtain and his Lighthorse and told to pay or get out. To this demand Tucker replied,"You take your d--n Lighthorse and get away from here. I will not be run over any more by you. You robbed me of all I had during the War, and you are not going to rob me again. I had rather you would kill me, if you must, than to submit to your authority. If you are determined to put me out or kill me, I only ask that you kill me right here in the front yard where I can be decently buried."

Friday, December 9, 2011

Most Famous 19th Century Costner--Ambrose Costner


From list of War of 1812 deserters from North Carolina Regiments

JOHN DAUGHTERY, born in Northampton County, N. C., aged 20 years, five feet nine and a half inches high, ruddy complexion, blue eyes, dark hair, and by occupation a silversmith, latterly accustomed to the sea. He is remarkable for his extreme silence and downcast appearance, addicted to intoxication, and when drunk is both sullen and stupid - deserted from Rowan County, N. C., 20th
Nov. 1814

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Cousin Cephas Bell, CSA, grandson of Uncle Thomas Costner, King's Mountain patriot

Cousin L. M. Hoffman tells this story about Cephas Bell, a Confederate soldier in the 28th North Carolina Regiment:
“His comrades say of him that he was not unusually bright but that he was unusually brave. On one occasion his command was ordered to charge the enemy entrenched on a hill. The Federals scattered in confusion and Bell leading in the rush did not notice that his command had halted in the enemy’s abandoned position but went on after an officer in the rear of the rout. He overtook his man and ordered him to surrender. The officer said he couldn’t surrender except to an officer. Bell swore at him and said he’d blow out his d----d brains if he didn’t surrender quick . . . . He took his prisoner back and meeting some officers as he approached headquarters they told him they’d take the prisoner. He said, ‘No you won’t; if you want to go get you one, there’s plenty of them over there [pointing in the direction the enemy had gone]. You shall not have mine.’”


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Costner Cousins--first cousins J. T. Costner, Clay Costner, Everett Parker, Hershel Parker, J. L. Balentine--Full Face; with a picture of John Mathis and his father Arthur Mathis added and two of Corbette (Joe) Edwards, Ida Costner's son

This is J. T. Costner, Ona and John's son.

This is Elbert's son Clay.

Clay, later on.

Everett Parker, son of Martha Costner


Hershel Parker--a lot older, but full face; don't have a high school graduation photo because I left to start working after the 11th grade. But see the photograph of our uncle, below, for resemblances.

This is R. G. (Pete) Costner, first cousin to J. L., Clay, and Hershel--but he is also our second cousin. J. T. Costner is Pete's brother but also--you figure it out. Ona and John were first cousins.

On New Year's Day 2012:
Thanks to his daughter Christi, here is John Mathis, a grandson of Ada Costner Mathis, sister of Gene Costner. John is second cousin to Clay Costner, J. L. Balentine, and Hershel Parker. Christi noticed the resemblance to Clay. I think the look of the Costner brothers and sisters (whether it was the Costner look or the Stewart look) carries very far down the generations.

J. L. Balentine

J.L. and Hershel:

Madine Simmons sent me a full-face picture of her brother, J. L. Balentine to replace the profile shot I posted at first.

Here is our uncle, Andrew Costner:

Arthur Mathis, son of Ada Costjer, was first cousin to Andrew Costner, first cousin once removed from Hershel Parker, J. L. Balentine, and Clay Costner. Arthur Mathis was the father of John Mathis. This picture courtesy of his granddaughter Christi.

Young Corbette (Joe) Edwards, first cousin once removed to J. L., J. T., Clay, Hershel, Everett, and R.G.

Young Corbette (Joe) Edwards again.

Corbette in later life. All baseball player Joe Edwards' photos courtesy of Bonnie McMullan.

photo booth posing

California girls

Saturday, December 3, 2011

All the Costner-Bell children except Helen

Euna on left, then in the back Andrew, Cora Lee,Elbert, Ethel, then on the right Martha, Ona in front, Mary partly behind Ona, then Euna on left. Cora Lee (Lee) is in front of Andrew and Elbert. On the right of Elbert, between him and Martha, is Ethel, the one who looks so much like her Aunt Mittie Costner.

Gene Costner, Alice Bell Costner, 9 surviving children

Gene, Alice,Lee,Mary, Helen, Ona, Martha (partly cut off by Ona), Ethel, Euna, Andrew, Elbert.


It's a terrible curse to be 20 or 30 years ahead of your time. My 1984 FLAWED TEXTS AND VERBAL ICONS was trashed by both the New Bibliographers and the New Critics and I thought for sure it was dead until 2007, when I pulled some books down from David Greetham's bookshelves and then looked on Amazon and Google Books for what had been said about it after the reviews died down. I was astounded to see that it has been used by people in many fields although it is still often put down by people in American literature, mainly geezers who had committed themselves to praise of a bungled text, or their students. Today I noticed several pages in Keith Newlin's new $150 OXFORD HANDBOOK OF AMERICAN LITERARY NATURALISM where my arguments about one book, THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE, are accurately described and where he says that to read Fredson Bowers's and my exchanges "is to witness a class of titans." (See more in Amazon by looking inside the HANDBOOK.)

Newlin knows I lost to the vested New Critical interests on RBofC, although I was right about readers being deprived of the true experience of reading what Crane wrote, and he writes sadly about that loss to a truncated and nonsensical text. He concludes that Bowers (and his followers, he might have said) were so powerful that Bowers's kind of eclectic editing prevailed as long as he lived, although "with his passing in 1991, the eclectic approach has fallen from favor."

Is this a family trait?--being right long before our time? It's a good thing most of us live a long time. If I had died in 1990 I would have thought that FLAWED TEXTS AND VERBAL ICONS was dead and forgotten.

Friday, December 2, 2011

"DID YOU KNOW . . .?" about Hershel Parker and Kevin Costner?

User Profile: jessicafischerqueen
P.S. Did you know that the person usually thought to be the world's leading Melville scholar, Hershel Parker, is actually Kevin Costner's first cousin. ...

Things you find on the Internet!


Kevin's father, Bill Costner, is my second cousin, Kevin my second cousin once removed.

You know what this means: Bill and I are twice the Costner Kevin is.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

From a dead man's wallet

ORNERY PEOPLE--"What is a Depression Okie?"

ORNERY PEOPLE is still in the planning stage but it is becoming clear that I can write it as a prequel to GRAPES OF WRATH.

We know what California thought of Okies in the 1930s, when the word was invented (wasn't it?) as a term of derogation. We know what prejudice Oklahomans suffered in later decades, up to the present. What we don't have, to my knowledge, is a book that answers the question "What is a Depression Okie?" in historical terms, what is the background in this continent of a representative Depression Okie?

Using Internet resources, primarily, I will tell stories about people I never knew about until I began looking for them online in 2002. Some of the stories start in the 1600s and all of them start Pre-Revolution, for a typical Okie is not a newcomer to this continent. I even have Dawes Commission testimony from part Indian cousins and a WPA interview with a part Indian cousin.

I am having trouble with a few families where I hit the genealogist's brick wall (for the Parkers, in 1818 Alabama) and having trouble with other families, like the SC and Mississippi Stewarts whose names I know but about whom I know almost nothing except a bit about some property they owned. No stories! Nothing like Aunt Kate Richardson's killing a Yankee who put his head in her apple barrel.

The broad historical themes of the book are emerging. One obvious one will be the dispersal of families after the Revolution and the strange gathering-in of families through the Internet.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

This blog has already brought me previously unknown photographs of great grandparents

So I just posted two partial listing of known ancestors up through great great great grandparents.

I believe in the power of the Internet.

The question I pose in ORNERY PEOPLE is "What is an Okie?" The assumption at the outset was that there would be no written record of ancestors. The book is in part a tribute to the mass of available documentation on the Internet for a typical Depression Okie--the people of GRAPES OF WRATH.

Parker and Ro[d]gers side

Corrections welcomed!
Filling in of blanks wished for!

Costner and Bell side

Corrections and supplementary evidence welcomed.