Friday, January 20, 2017

Looking at my file of essays accepted then suppressed

Edna L. Steeves bravely published my "Reviewing of Scholarly Editions" in EDITORS' NOTES after the editor at the University of Virginia Press had refused to publish a collection if it were in it because it looked (coolly, politely) at some of Fredson Bowers's sloppiness and irrationality. It was a fine essay. This is the concluding paragraph.

And while textualists and reviewers alike have been confused or flippant, or merely ponderous, on most of the textual-editorial issues, both of theory and procedure, they have seemed almost unaware of a much more important area, that ambiguous terrain where textual and biographical evidence create aesthetic conse­quences. Biography has been kept away from editorial theory; creativity theory has been kept away from editorial theory-and is banished in Jerome McGann's modish A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism (Chicago 1983), an influential pastiche of the views of James Thorpe and Donald Pizer; cognitive psychology (with its rich new discoveries about human memory) has been kept out of editorial theory. Until editors care passionately about literature again, until editors approach the creative process with wonder and awe, we are not going to have great triumphs of textual editing and we are not going to have great new reviews of scholarly editions.

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