By G. Thomas Tanselle
Textual criticism—the conventional time period for the duty of comparing the authority of the phrases and punctuation of a text—is frequently thought of an project initial to literary feedback: many of us think that the task of textual critics is to supply trustworthy texts for literary critics to research. G. Thomas Tanselle argues, to the contrary, that the 2 actions can't be separated.The textual critic, in settling on between textual versions and correcting what seem to be textual blunders, unavoidably routines serious judgment and displays a selected perspective towards the character of literature. And the literary critic, in studying the which means of a piece or passage, has to be (though infrequently is) severe of the make-up of each textual content of it, together with these produced via scholarly editors.
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Extra info for A Rationale of Textual Criticism
In moments of flippancy, we may profess to be delighted by the destruction of certain material, for it lightens our labors as scholars. But we remain convinced, all the while, that we would have learned something from the material and would have moved a step closer to understanding a past moment. If all the lost documents had survived instead of those we have, we would feel no better off: we could not be satisfied unless we had everything. And having "everything" is an impossibility, because even if we had every documentary text of a work that ever existed, we would still not know how many other versions had once existed in its author's mind, versions that could be relevant to questioning the texts of the documents.
No doubt few fifteenth-century readers, unless they were friends of printers, knew how different from one another the printed texts in copies of current editions wereeven though they were well aware that defective printed sheets were often corrected or completed in handwriting and were not identical in these respects. But wealthough we may have the same desire to believe that printed copies with identical texts can, magically, be producedought to know better. Five hundrd years of intensive use should have enabled us to see the printed book somewhat more realistically.
The physical evidence in books is often ambiguous, and some analytical bibliographers have drawn unwarranted inferences from it; but these circumstances do not distinguish such evidence from any other kind of evidence, including that found in archival records. The history of the production of individual books, and the larger history of scribal practice and of printing and publishing that is built up from it, cannot be based solely on internal physical evidence; but that evidence is fundamental and cannot be ignored.
A Rationale of Textual Criticism by G. Thomas Tanselle