My FLAWED TEXTS AND VERBAL ICONS examined American literary texts which had been damaged in the process of composition or afterwards. The arguments ranged from the effects of taking the biggest chapter out of THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE to the effects of removing a few little passages which established the hierarchy of characters in AN AMERICAN DREAM (which has resulted in the weird situation in which the best critics cannot agree on who the four or five main characters are).
In THE SEWANEE REVIEW Summer 1985 Gary Davenport wanted, oh how he wanted, to believe in the perfection of any published literary text. "The idea of the text is absolutely necessary--even if it is only a necessary fiction--for the study of literature to make sense." My view was "inimical to the higher values of literary culture that have survived, somehow, from the beginnings of literacy to our Age of Information." If I was right, in other words, all Western Civilization would crumble, even the New Criticism.
Now, I say that is the most stupid thing ever said about me but perhaps I should acknowledge Richard H. Brodhead and Andrew Delbanco's accusations that I made up Melville's finishing a book in 1860 which he called POEMS. Only I in my "black hole" had known of it, Brodhead said in the New York TIMES.
No, those were just lies by very bright chaired professors. The winner is Gary Davenport.