A Rationale of Textual Criticism

A Rationale of Textual Criticism

A Rationale of Textual Criticism

A Rationale of Textual Criticism

Synopsis

A philosophic grounding for textual criticism that shows how textual criticism is an integral part of the activity of reading. "No one writes more knowledgeably or brilliantly about textual criticism than Tanselle."--

Excerpt

The three lectures printed here have been revised only slightly from the form in which they were delivered, on April 21, 23, and 28, 1987, as the Rosenbach Lectures at the University of Pennsylvania. My aim in these lectures is to present a rationale of textual criticism and scholarly editing, focusing first on the aesthetics that underlies textual study and then exploring in turn, in the other two lectures, the implications of that aesthetics for the treatment of documentary texts and for the production of critically reconstructed texts. Most of the points I raise have been touched on repeatedly during the two and a half millennia of recorded textual scholarship in the West: the issues have not changed, though the approaches to them have fluctuated. But I shall not here attempt a historical account or engage in debate with particular scholars, for the questions to be discussed are ones that must logically be faced, regardless of which writers have previously taken sides on them. Those questions, after all, are not simply the concern of specialists; they are of fundamental importance to all who read books, or attend lectures and plays, or listen to music and folk tales, or watch dances and films, or use printed and written matter in their daily lives.

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