[ilds] RG 1.6 -- the narrator meets Justine

slighcl slighcl at wfu.edu
Sun Apr 29 18:21:11 PDT 2007

On 4/29/2007 7:55 PM, Bruce Redwine wrote:

>All this is a variant on my email of long ago where I argued credit goes to the author, and I fully expect this will satisfy no one who likes multiplicity.
We know each other too well, I think, Bruce.  Yes, my friend, I hear 
your point, and accept your methods as a reader of LD who feels he must 
choose a single text, but as a bibliographer who must work with the 
ethic of a historian, I can no more elide LD "intentions" in 1957 any 
more than I can elevate his "intentions" in 1962.   He "intended" both 
versions.  The typescripts prove he "intended" a certain reading of 
/Justine /1.10 before publishing in 1957.  The revisions prove he 
"intended" another version of 1.10 in 1962.   Both are important parts 
of the historical record. 

Another example: I greatly admire Wolpe's jacket and binding designs for 
the individual Faber issues of the novels in the /Quartet/.  I even 
think that you can present "readings" of the /Quartet /through the 
bibliographical codes advertised in the look of the jackets, the 
binding, and the typeface chosen.  But if I insist on strict 
intentionalism, I would have to say that those resources are invalidated 
by the move LD made to a single volume 1962 /Quartet /or the 
paper-covered editions springing from that revision.  All of those 
various printings contain special histories, meanings.  I will leave it 
to the Vatican to decide where the "/imprimi potest/" can be stamped, 
which books to suppress or to approve.  We do not need more police.

Certainly, if I were writing thorough literary criticism on LD--please 
recall, I my interest is instead archaeological, textual--I would make 
the choice to use the Fabers, post 1962.  But to be conscientious I 
would also keep an eye on the author's movement's in his texts and admit 
those variants for my reader's consideration where they revealed the 
author having second thoughts or redrawing his work.  A historian of 
texts can do no less. 

None of this is "postmodernism," a word that I do not espouse or believe 
in.  And what happened with /Ulysses /is a separate matter, something 
that no longer needs to happen, given our recent gains in technology.  I 
am not for imposing 1962 or 1957--or the notebooks or the typescripts, 
for that matter--and conflating them into a "definitive text," while not 
forbidden, simply distorts the text according to the local view of an 
editor.   Instead, I look ahead to a time when all of those different 
texts of /Justine /will be available to readers and scholars as starting 
points.  For LD it will be many, many, many years from now, 
post-copyright and in a different archival moment that may seem 
impossible at present, but digital archiving will give us more access, 
less institutional policing.  It is already starting today, and I have 
already helped to initiate the change with my colleagues at /The 
Rossetti Archive/ (http://www.rossettiarchive.org/index.html).  That 
case--in which Dante Gabriel Rossetti, a maligned and forgotten and 
politically inconvenient author makes a sudden renascence after many 
years in exile--may in fact be a very good model for what can recuperate 
LD following what may be many years of declining readership.   In DGR's 
case, he has gone from one of the least available poets to now quite 
arguably the most available--the /Archive /now offers about 17,000 
digital scans of his printed works, manuscripts, and pictorial works, 
all annotated and transcribed and searchable.  Tennyson, Browning, 
Shakespeare &c. have no where near that availability for any variety of 
reasons--Shakespeare simply doesn't remain extant in the way that a 
nineteenth-century writer like DGR or a twentieth-century writer like 
LD, both of whom came after romanticism changed the way we think about 
authors and hold on to their mss and archival record--but most 
especially because the institutions owning those authors' core documents 
and the scholars overseeing those authors' criticism have not availed 
themselves of a new resource which they suspect and avoid.  Control, 
power, money--libraries, museums, and universities see the change 
coming.  Yes, the art of reading and the practice of scholarship will 
change in ways that all of us old-timers will not be able to understand 
and may not be comfortable with.  But then reading changed with Gutenberg.

Remember, none of what I am saying here precludes reading for 
"intention."  That is still an available strategy and, if rigorously and 
continuously self-monitored, may bear fruit as it has in the past.


Charles L. Sligh
Department of English
Wake Forest University
slighcl at wfu.edu

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