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Text Formation Before Publication

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  • E Bruce Brooks
    To: WSW Cc: Synoptic On: Text Formation Before Publication From: Bruce Those interested in Text Typology (and my apologies to those who found the link to the
    Message 1 of 3 , May 8, 2010
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      To: WSW
      Cc: Synoptic
      On: Text Formation Before Publication
      From: Bruce

      Those interested in Text Typology (and my apologies to those who found
      the link to the Project site, namely

      http://www.umass.edu/wsp/philology/typology/index.html

      recently inoperative; the UMass server, at last report, is back in
      operation) may find extra food for reflection in the current New York
      Review of Books, where the question of Raymond Carver, celebrated in
      certain circles for his short stories, has come up in spades. The
      occasion is the Library of America's publication of Carver's original
      draft of his story collection What We Talk About, alongside the
      published version as edited by Gordon Lish. As the reviewer describes
      Carver's reaction to Lish,

      "He had just spent the whole night going over Lish's edited version of
      the book and was taken aback by the changes. His manuscript had been
      radically transformed. Lish had cut the total length of the book by
      over 50 percent; three stories were at least 70 percent shorter; ten
      stories had new titles, and the endings of fourteen had been rewritten."

      Few who compare Carver's version of Carver with Lish's version of
      Carver, as everyone is now able to do, will prefer the former. But
      preference is not the deep question; the deep question is whether, on
      the way to its first public version, there may not be events of
      interest and importance in the prepublic history of a piece of
      writing. It has been my contention that this may be so.

      The case of Carver, adding another to a genre already populated by
      Stephen Crane's Red Badge of Courage (wildly successful in a published
      version that was also drastically cut from its author's manuscript),
      supports the idea that this is not infrequently the case. Then there
      was Maxwell Perkins and Tom Wolfe, not to mention Pound and Eliot.
      Authorship is not as simple a process as either Sinologists or NT
      specialists are sometimes prone to assume. It is a process that can
      include second, or 14th, thoughts by the author, and one that can
      sometimes be co-inhabited by persons other than authors.

      Sinologists may know that the late J R Hightower's wife ("Bunny") was
      a writer of children's stories, at first loosely based on her own
      children. She and Hightower (as she called him) would argue, sometimes
      vigorously, over his suggestions about her manuscripts. She usually
      wound up agreeing that the stories were better afterward. It is
      sometimes hard for a mere author to glimpse the book within the
      manuscript. I wrote a letter of thanks just this afternoon to a
      student first reader who had filed pages of criticisms of our next
      book. In this, as all cultured persons will be aware, I am merely
      keeping alive a tradition already established by my namesake in middle
      antiquity, Bwo Jyw-yi.

      In the same issue of NYRB is yet another review of the Shapiro book on
      the Shakespeare authorship madness. As earlier noted by myself, and
      despite the claims of Shapiro (gently queried by the NYRB reviewer,
      one Stanley Wells), authorship does matter. It is just that authorship
      can be a more complex issue than some are intuitively inclined to
      assume. How much of [J S] Bach is really Vivaldi; how much early
      Mozart is really [J C] Bach? How much of the immortal Paraphrases did
      Borodin actually write? Who cares to disentangle Wordsworth from
      Coleridge in the Lyrical Ballads? And exactly how many Wordsworths are
      they planning to reckon with?

      Perhaps few will be inclined to push into these realms, but as far as
      I can see, only those few have any business talking about authorship,
      or defining the concepts "authorship" and "author's original" for
      purposes of general philology.

      Bruce

      [E Bruce Brooks
      Warring States Project
      University of Massachusetts at Amherst]
    • David Mealand
      Kloppenborg cites Pliny (Ep.3.15; 5.3) for this kind of practice - (reading a work to a group of friends and then revising it), in a well documented section of
      Message 2 of 3 , May 8, 2010
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        Kloppenborg cites Pliny (Ep.3.15; 5.3)
        for this kind of practice - (reading a work
        to a group of friends and then revising
        it), in a well documented section
        of his article on variation in Q
        See Kloppenborg, 'Variation.....'
        Eph. Theol. Lov. 83 (2007) 53-80
        esp. p.62. This is available in pdf
        (I think via ATLA for those with access).

        Robert Burns did something similar,
        reading poems to his cultured friends
        when in Edinburgh, sometimes with
        the result that some poems are around
        in versions with differing linguistic
        features, or so I am told.

        David M.




        ---------
        David Mealand, University of Edinburgh


        --
        The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
        Scotland, with registration number SC005336.
      • E Bruce Brooks
        David, Thanks for the additional examples; it all helps in consciousness raising. Those who write under censorship (Soviet and other) probably offer still
        Message 3 of 3 , May 8, 2010
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          David,

          Thanks for the additional examples; it all helps in consciousness
          raising. Those who write under censorship (Soviet and other) probably
          offer still other illustrations. Less benign, but less benign
          situations do exist.

          Sometimes what is not in a work speaks as loud about the environment
          from which it comes as the stuff that is in it, and prepublication
          activity on the text may sometimes result (as in the editorial
          examples earlier given) in less text, not more text.

          I have the uncomfortable feeling that there are things left out of gMk
          by its early author(s), or maybe removed or overwritten by its late
          author(s), all of whom may or may not be the same person (my
          statistical sense is that the last one or two are not the same guy as
          the first three or four). I can see the later Gospels working to fill
          some of what they saw as narrative or theological holes. Not that they
          knew what would have been there, it seems to me that they are
          improvising, but that their sense of deficiency is intelligible, and
          maybe even in some cases points to real lacunae. The parts of Mark
          that seem to me to have maybe suffered the most are the probably much
          overwritten ones, especially those with later liturgical significance
          (strongest example, the Last Supper). It's interesting to me that the
          late layers of Mark are concerned to provide lifetime sanction for the
          Lord's Supper, but I don't detect any equal interest or activity in
          the area of Baptism. Not at least in the fraction of the early Jesus
          movement subtended by Mark. I think this sort of thing should have
          interested Lietzmann more than it seems to have done.

          The Western Non passages in Luke tend also to have liturgical
          significance. There is, to me, a lot of church history contained in
          these various passages, and the exact times at which they entered the
          authority texts.

          Bruce

          [E Bruce Brooks
          Warring States Project
          University of Massachusetts at Amherst]
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