Texts in Multiple Versions – Histories of Editions
Edited by Luigi Giuliani, Herman Brinkman, Geert Lernout and Marita Mathijsen
Texts in multiple versions constitute the core problem of textual scholarship. For texts from antiquity and the medieval period, the many versions may be the result of manuscript transmission, requiring editors and readers to discriminate between levels of authority in variant readings produced along the chain of copying. For texts of all periods, and particularly for more modern authors, there may also be multiple authorial versions. These are of particular importance for genetic criticism, as they offer a window on the author’s thinking through the developing work. The different contexts in which multiple versions may occur – different languages, different genres, different cultures, ranging in this collection from ancient Greek texts to novels by Cervantes and Aub, dramatic texts from Portugal and Germany, poetry from The Netherlands and Lithuania, scientific texts from the 19th century – provide further layers of complexity.
The histories of countries are reflected in the histories of editing. In Europe, this can be seen particularly in the great period of ‘nation-building’ of the 19th century. Essays in this volume survey editorial activity in The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany in the nineteenth century, concluding that nation building and scholarly editing are twinned. As a nation searches for its own identity, textual scholarship is pressed into service to find and edit the texts on which to establish that identity.
The two strands of this volume (multiple versions of texts; editions and national histories) testify to the centrality of textual editing to many fields of research. There is material here for literary scholars, historians, and for readers interested in texts from Ancient Greece to modernist classics.