Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bowers's False Denial of Blackballing Hershel Parker from the CSE for asking the CEAA to rescind the Seal awarded to the Shoddily Edited MAGGIE

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1 comment:

  1. These were the days when editing was a blood sport and the suppression of criticism was commonplace. Bowers in fact had done what he here denied doing, and had done much more to be sure that no one published the article I had done with Brian Higgins, "The Virginia Edition of Stephen Crane's MAGGIE: A MIRROR FOR TEXTUAL SCHOLARS," which I had submitted to the CEAA in the hope that they would rescind the Seal awarded to MAGGIE, a Seal which was cheapening its presence on all other CEAA volumes.

    My response to this letter was not printed in A&EB for several years, not until I had appealed to the president of a university. When it was printed, a brave editor in the Antipodes read it and asked to see the article. Australian customs behaved badly, demanding to know the value of a floppy disk. The content of it, I tried to explain, was priceless, the disk itself negligible in value. Ultimate the computer wizard at Delaware wisked the article (that may have been the term, not zapped) to the editor. We all stood amazed as the wizard announced that what he had done had worked, that the article was (even as we stood there) in the computer of the editor far far Down Under. The article was printed in the BIBLIOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY OF AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND BULLETIN, 19.3, Third Quarter, 1995, after being suppressed and unpublishable in the United States for two decades.

    The article was not in any way intemperate. It proceeded more in sorrow than in anger, but it was relentless in showing the extreme sloppiness of the textual procedures and the extreme illogicality of the aesthetic arguments. Bowers had become, by the early 1970s, a caricature of his former self, but still wielding immense power over other textual editors and editors of journals. His denial in the letter pictured above persists as quoted in his biography.