A Rationale of Textual Criticism by G. Thomas Tanselle

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 usually thought of an project initial to literary feedback: many folks think that the activity 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 opting for between textual variations and correcting what seem to be textual blunders, unavoidably routines serious judgment and displays a selected viewpoint towards the character of literature. And the literary critic, in analyzing the which means of a piece or passage, has to be (though not often is) serious of the make-up of each textual content of it, together with these produced via scholarly editors.

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And we must further remember that inked letterforms are part of the vessel, not its content. Once the ink is applied to the parchment or the paper, the two are fused into one physical object, the aim of which is to cause us to think of a particular sequence of words. For the crystal goblet of typography and calligraphy conveys a cargo that is abstract: letterforms provide the codes whereby we can attempt to recreate messages. 47 page_41 < previous page page_41 next page > Page 41 mind. Obviously, therefore, the process of reading a message as a product of the past entails the minutest examination of physical evidence, for there can be no characteristic of a document that may not have some bearing on the determination of the text of the work being conveyed.

There can be no identical copies of printed books, just as there can be no identical copies of manuscripts or of any other objects; but the differences in some cases may be such that one will consider them insignificant for the purpose at hand. ) The existence of variant texts in editions printed in the first two or three centuries after Gutenberg has become a fairly broadly known fact, but many persons who accept it still assume that nineteenth- and twentiethcentury books are not plagued with such problems.

We know the difference between praising the shape of an axe or a bowl for its efficiency and admiring it for its beauty, and we also know that any applied decoration is no less a work of art because it happens to be attached to an object of utility. When we come to objects intended to convey verbal messages, however, we sometimes fail to make these distinctions so clearly. 47 page_40 < previous page page_40 next page > Page 40 work with its physical embodiment, forgetting that manuscripts and printed books are utilitarian objects designed to perform a function.

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