The Letters of Robert Burns

The Letters of Robert Burns

The Letters of Robert Burns

The Letters of Robert Burns

Excerpt

The present edition represents the first systematic attempt to edit the letters of Robert Burns from the original manuscripts, and to present the entire body of his correspondence on its own merits, instead of treating it as supplementary matter to the Complete Works. The term 'letters' has been interpreted to mean all the poet's communications with other persons, including, when these are in the nature of messages, dedicatory inscriptions in books. The Journals and Commonplace Books-- already adequately edited and easily accessible--are omitted, as are the Notes on Scottish Songs and other fragments of miscellaneous prose. More than fifty letters are here collected for the first time, and nearly twice as many more are not accessible in any one standard edition of the Complete Works.

In every case where the originals can be traced the text of the previously printed letters has been collated with the manuscripts, with the result that many omitted passages, some of them of the highest biographical interest, have been restored, and innumerable minor corrections have been made. Where more than one manuscript exists the posted copy of the letter has always been taken as the standard text, but in general any manuscript text has been preferred to any printed one. About one-fourth of the letters have not been traced in manuscript. Of these, it is probable that the originals of some thirty-five or forty no longer exist. In the absence of the manuscript, the earliest printed text has been followed except where later editors had access to the original and used it to produce a completer version.

The entire prose text of the letters is always given, but considerations of space have compelled the omission of most of the poems. Such omissions are always indicated, and page references are given to a standard edition in which the verses may be found. A few extremely ribald verses have likewise been omitted. Exception to the general rule of omitting poetry has been made in the case of very short pieces, of a few texts exhibiting important variants from the usual printed versions, of the successive revisions of a few familiar songs, and of verses which form integral parts of the prose passages which accompanied them.

Every effort has been made to preserve the details of the originals. In his mature years Burns spelt and punctuated with . . .

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