Monday, May 22, 2017

Scholarly Editions

When the semester ends, I always seem to sleep for a week.  This year, the weekend seems to have sufficed.  It probably helps that it's been too rainy to do much out of doors, so I've read, slept, and packed.

I'm having hardwood floors put in the main floor of my house, the BardiacShack, replacing the carpet that was put in when it was built.  Let's just say the carpet has seen better days.

But it means that I basically have to move everything out of half the house, including the half with my bedroom, living room, and home office.  So that means clothes and books.  Holy cow, I have a lot of books!

I'm probably the only person in academics who has more shelving than I need, thanks to inheriting three big barrister cases when my Dad died, after having bought sufficient shelving before.  And having a regular office where I have most of my books.  It's rather nice!  (But the big shelves all need to be moved!)

I took three boxes of books to the local library to donate to their sale; I hope they can sell them.  I'm sending some scholarly editions to a grad student I know.

It's weird, these scholarly editions, mostly from the Renaissance Text or Medieval and Renaissance Text Societies.  They're incredible, and beautiful.  But they're not something I use a lot.  A few of them I do.  I use a George Herbert facsimile edition about once every other year, when I teach poetry.  And there are a few other editions I use, or just plain like.

They're one of those things that you really want your library to own (if you're at an R1 and have grad students), because the occasional grad student will find them useful, but unless the specific edition hits your needs, you probably don't need them.  But I didn't really get that when I joined the organization.  And I'm not sorry I joined, because I found various sorts of editions like this so useful when I was a grad student.

But in a way, EEBO and other on-line resources have solved immediate access problems for many people, though the editorial apparatus that makes these editions especially helpful at times isn't there.  For medievalists, EEBO is no help at all, so maybe the editions are still really useful?

I'm guessing there was about a hundred years where these editions were absolutely invaluable.  And now, maybe less so?

Do you folks find yourselves using scholarly editions of less well-known texts?


  1. All the time, but what I do, as a scholar, is study not-well-known texts. The Early English Text Society (not the Old English Sex Society---search my blog for that phrase to get the story) provides handsomely for my needs. It's the criticism, especially on Chaucer, that I'd like to get rid of.

  2. Do you mean specifically facsimile editions? These I use in my teaching and do find useful to some degree myself--it's just so much easier than EEBO!--but more likely for major authors (or the major-minor ones I work on) than minor ones, it's true.

    For scholarly editions as a whole, with their apparatus, variants, and so on--I need & use these all the time, when I'm lucky enough to have them. Maybe it's the era I was trained in, but I feel I can't make a credible argument about a text without being aware of its printed/MS history.

    1. Yes, I was thinking of facsimile editions; I should have specified. Scholarly editions overall are, as you say, completely invaluable!

    2. Facsimile editions are a bit different for medievalists. I have, I think, three, of different complete manuscripts. I use one frequently for teaching, one frequently for research, and one, sorry to say, almost never, though I like having it because once in awhile it comes in handy for something. There are two more that I'm on-and-off considering for a project in the works, but as they're both available in LRU's library, I really don't need them. It would just be cool to have my own copies.