[ilds] RG 1.6 -- the narrator meets Justine

James Gifford odos.fanourios at gmail.com
Sun Apr 29 19:55:20 PDT 2007

Bruce writes (in response to Beatrice and Michael):

> I prefer to work with the text closest to the author's
> intent -- and that usually means the last one he or she
> personally revised.

I must admit that I like multiplicity, but to offer a more ridiculous
example, what of Milan Kundera?  He's known for taking back the text after
the reader has it, and then he insists on changes.  Why?  Because he's the
author, and it's his text, and he'll do what he likes with it...  Notably,
he also hates the archive, or for that matter, anything that restricts his
autonomy, such as history or memory.  If he had his way, every previous
version of works would be rounded up, burned, and replaced by his newest
ideas about it.  Perfectly revisionist, in many respects (just see his
latest column in the Guardian).

Between the two extremes -- the revisionist author versus the 'dead' author
-- how do we read Durrell?  I would personally like to know each state of
the text, from Faber's first, the Duttons, through to the omnibus.  Are not
some of the changes too superfluous to not call our attention to the fact of
variants in a book all about texts?

But here's the rub...  We don't need to exclude any of these options in
order to have them all.  Durrell was fully aware of how editors watch
variant editions, as his early thoughts on the Hamlet bad Quarto or his
UNESCO lectures on Shakespeare show.  With any author who knew each of these
variants would slumber on in the archive, I don't think we need to choose
between the omnipotent or the multiplicitous author.  The perfect option for
the author is to have his reader purchase each edition and each variant...

And, I think this is Beatrice's point.  The changes are variations in 'space
time,' so to speak, such as the objects that precipitate drama around them
(a watch key, a 'fingerstall,' eh Beatrice...), and the changes between
editions are not just revisions.  They are revisions that require we know
each variant, not simply replace the old with the new.  That said, I prefer
to move from the Fabers to the Dutton (and Cardinal) through to the omnibus

But, I suspect Beatrice could say something more meaningful about this than
I could, and Michael would know more about the revision process itself.  I
do, however, think it provides an accommodation to Bruce's worry over the
author's intentions -- I this case, we need all the multiplicity to approach
the intentions or even just the text...


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