Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Jane Millgate's Great Essay on Scott's THE SIEGE OF MALTA

I am looking at my cherished offprint of Jane Millgate's article in the BULLETIN OF RESEARCH IN THE HUMANITIES (Summer 1979), the glory days of David Erdman's editorship. I think this is still the best study of "a document over which its author did not have full mental or physical control and which does not make complete sense phrase by phrase." Millgate's work complements the work being done at the same time by Albert Rothenberg in THE EMERGING GODDESS (1979) on the way authors in normal health, not authors who have suffered a debilitating stroke as Scott had, tend to lose control of their works soon after finishing them because the creative process is finished and they are already absorbed in their next production. Millgate's pioneering work demonstrates how an author's physical debility can cause gross textual anomalies and impossibilities even while the author's characteristic broad vision of his plot is still evident. If her contemporaries had admitted the existence then only whispered about as "the creative process" they might have made her work the foundation of many extraordinary studies . It's an astounding essay: "The Limits of Editing: The Problem of Scott's THE SIEGE OF MALTA."

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