chapter  3
30 Pages

The Cultural Work of Editing

In 1959, Bruce Harkness published an important article in the major journal for textual bibliography, in which he argues the existence of what he called the novelistic fallacy': the fallacy being that to critics and students, dedicated to the close reading of literary works, the source of the text of a novel does not matter. The preparation of scholarly editions of major literary works based on theories and methods derived from textual criticism has long been one of the most recondite and resonant activities in the cultural engagement with texts. Digital technology is changing how people interact with the textual heritage in its high literary forms. Scholars have been creating electronic texts for as long as there have been machines to read them, realizing early on that the calculating power of computers could be used effectively for processing textual data, for producing concordances and word lists, and for making comparisons between different versions.