The preparation of reliable texts of literary works is one of the most valuable tasks a scholar can undertake. General readers as well as professional literary critics depend on the accuracy of texts, and their work of interpretation or evaluation will be damaged if these are corrupt or imperfect. The more detailed a critic’s attention to the words of a text, the more important it is that the text be accurate. The US critic F.O. Matthiessen was famously caught out when he wrote admiringly of what he took to be a brilliantly incongruous image in Herman Melville’s White Jacket – the ‘soiled fish’ of the sea. Unfortunately for Matthiessen, ‘soiled’ was the printer’s invention; Melville had actually written ‘coiled’.