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The late 1970s were an extraordinarily active and interesting period for those concerned with editorial matters. In addition to the continuing stream of scholarly editions, these years saw the beginning (1976) of a Center for Scholarly Editions (CSE) within the Modern Language Association of America, the inauguration of an Association for Documentary Editing (1978) and of an interdisciplinary and international Society for Textual Scholarship (1979), and the founding (1979) of a nonprofit corporation, Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., for publishing reliable texts in a form easily accessible to the general reading public. What these organizations have in common, aside from their interest in editing, is a breadth of vision. The fact that the CSE is the successor to the Center for Editions of American Authors (CEAA) is symbolic: whereas the CEAA was limited to the consideration of editing projects in American literature, the CSE is prepared to consult with editors of any kind of material from any country; in its 1977 Introductory Statement [1] it emphasized that editors of diverse works "have a common ground for coming together" and pledged "to promote greater understanding among editors in all fields." The Association for Documentary Editing—though the original impetus for its organization came from historians editing the papers of statesmen—welcomes as members editors from all disciplines, and editors of literary and philosophical works have been active in it.[2] Similarly, Literary Classics of the United States, although it is committed to publishing works that can be regarded as American, is not limiting its purview to works that are "literary" in a narrow sense, and it recognizes that a responsible


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textual policy can accommodate itself to a variety of kinds of editions.[3]

This climate of openness and cooperation is highly desirable; but its increasing presence should not be taken as a sign that the editorial issues argued about with considerable vehemence during the previous fifteen years have been settled. The familiar debates—such as whether Greg's rationale is appropriate for post-Renaissance material or whether the CEAA was too rigid in its standards—have continued and have often been as ill-informed as before. It would be wrong to suggest that the late 1970s did not have their share of unpleasant and fruitless editorial controversy. But I think it can also be said that the discussion began to take on a somewhat different aspect during these years: arguments based essentially on emotional reactions did not as often hold center stage, and somewhat more commentary appeared that raised thoughtful questions about central issues. Tom Davis, in an important review of the CEAA enterprise,[4] was being overly generous when he referred to "the sophistication of the scholarly debate" that the CEAA editions generated; but there is no doubt about the sophistication of his own piece, and it is a prime example of the newer, more serious criticism of the CEAA.

When in 1975 I surveyed the editorial literature that had grown up around the CEAA,[5] I noted that much of it seemed to have arisen from conflicts of personality or temperament. Quantitatively these writings may have served a purpose, directing more attention than is customary to the activity of scholarly editing (though also reinforcing the view that editors are a contentious lot); but qualitatively this literature left much to be desired. The time now seeems appropriate to extend the survey through the remainder of the 1970s, not only to continue the record (for the development of the debate is of interest in its own right as an episode in the history of modern scholarship) but also to see if an examination of this literature cannot serve to identify and clarify certain basic issues of editing. Some of the pieces require little attention, for they are simply restatements of points of view that I have commented on in the earlier survey; but others, even if they are sometimes inept or illogical, touch on fundamental questions that are worth exploring further. The process of working through these discussions can, I trust, prove to be a fruitful way of approaching those questions. Although the specific subjects are


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frequently the CEAA or Greg's rationale, the issues obviously go beyond American literature and Greg; many misunderstandings have come about through a failure at the outset to be clear about what these underlying issues are, through a failure to make certain elementary distinctions. One of the unfortunate effects of a protracted controversy can be to envelop the issues with a greater aura of mysterious complexity than they actually possess. Editors have difficult enough decisions to make in the process of producing critical editions without needlessly complicating the conceptual framework within which their activity must take place: deciding between two variant readings, for instance, may indeed be a complex affair, requiring an involved discussion, but explaining what one hopes to accomplish by making such decisions should not be a difficult task. A look at some recent editorial discussions can lead, I think, to a realization of how simply the basic questions can be framed.[6]