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How Not to Edit: The Case of Marianne Moore
Abstract

Abstract:

Despite almost two decades of arguments by editorial theorists about the interpretative dimensions of good editing, literary scholars are still inclined to view the act of editing as merely positivist, pre-interpretative activity. Literary scholars, however, denigrate the interpretive complexity of editing at their peril. The belief that resonates among both academic departments and presses that editing is simply a set of mindless procedures has led many potential editors to choose other scholarly pursuits. Meanwhile, the number of scholars equipped to tackle the challenges of editing are dwindling and, with them, the consistent, theoretically sound editions upon which literary scholars rely. The editorial state of the texts of Marianne Moore argues the importance of viewing editing as a vital extension of the act of interpretation. The very different editions of Moore's poems currently available underwrite very different arguments about Moore's work and career. Most recently, Grace Schulman's edition of The Poems of Marianne Moore (Viking Penguin, 2003) offers a telling example of the bad things that can happen when an editor fails to recognize the ways in which his or her presentation of the works of a given author reflect, or not, the arguments he or she wishes to make about that author, the author's work, and the issue of textuality generally.