By Fredson Bowers
The literary critic has a tendency to imagine that the textual student or bibliographer, fortunately occupied in his trip drudgery, has now not a lot to assert that he might care to listen to, so there's a gulf among them. Professor Bowers advances to the sting of this gulf and says numerous forceful issues throughout it; they develop into very important and engaging, even though sometimes scathing. the 1st bankruptcy reminds us that the literary critic can simply criticise with self assurance whilst the textual critic has tested what the writer wrote; Professor Bowers exhibits how a great deal has but to be performed. the second one bankruptcy takes a selected case, Walt Whitman's reproduction' for the 1860 variation of Leaves of Grass, and exhibits how the bibliographer can, via inventive yet rigorous deduction, provide an perception into the expansion of an author's notion of the character and target of his paintings. the opposite lectures, on Shakespeare and different early dramatic texts, will exhibit non-specialists the outstanding advances in editorial process, and the expansion of criteria of scholarship in those stories.
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If a second impression is much delayed, and the book has not been plated, the type can be distributed in the interval, since for a second printing all one need do is run the tape through the caster again to secure an exact duplicate of thefirst-impressiontypesetting. Of course, the publisher must carefully repeat all the stages of corrected proofs, or conflate them into one; for all proof changes made in the first typesetting must be repeated by hand in the second. If, as was possible, the revision of the lines in question had been made at a late stage and there had been a slip-up in preserving or conflating these proofs, the situation would be brought about that the first printing had 20 Textual Criticism and the Critic given us the revised lines but the second printing the original lines before revision.
The whole problem of the meaning or meanings of any poem is raised by this example', he writes, ' . but in one form or another much of Yeats's verse raises the same questions for any reader, namely, what are the limits which define legitimate interpretation? ' The answer he finds puzzling. Quite rightly he rejects the Empsonian attitude that the more simultaneous 27 Textual and Literary Criticism interpretations one can give to a poem the better. He also rejects, though more reluctantly, the thesis that an interpretation is valid if it is consistent with the whole context of the poem taken as a literal statement.
Let us pause now and turn to the manuscripts. Among them is a leaf containing a rejected poem, and on its back is a list of numbered poems, the list starting with number 33 and continuing to number 72, at which point the list must have continued on another leaf, but this is lost. When we compare this list and its titles with various of the manuscript poems, we find, with some few omissions, a complete concordance of number and of title. And from the manuscripts we can continue the list, with only a few gaps up to 100 and then on to 102.