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Preface Robert Pickering GENETIC CRITICISM, inaccurately interpreted when it first began to emerge at the end of the 1970s as merely an updated version of philology, is now an established part of the critical landscape. While in a purely superficial sense it manifests certain links with traditional philology , pertaining to methodological point of departure and to the criteria of evaluation—most notably in the emphasis it places on the analysis of manuscripts , first drafts and all other documents having preliminary status in relation to the realization of a given work—it is founded upon a distinctive approach to the analysis of writing which emphasizes the highly complex whole of literary, conceptual and artistic inventiveness, ranging in scope from the very birth of creative fragments, through the intricate process of coordination and emergence of meaning, to the elaboration of a text recognizable as the "published" version. This type of critical approach targeting the springs of creativity itself, and based on the very close study of manuscript material (though not uniquely: Almuth Grésillon, one of the contributors to this issue, poses the complex question of analysis of the genetic framework of a given published work where only the latter, and not its preceding formulation, has survived), has as its essential goal a reconstitution of the creative steps taken by the author at all stages of the writing process. It thus aims at an understanding of the various drives, strategies and interactions (including, among others, the sociogenetic domain, as Marion Schmid here emphasizes, or the interplay between rhythms of writing and political factors, as instanced in the last notebooks of Paul Valéry), which are at work at all levels of conception and composition of the textual weft. In this way, genetic criticism necessarily interacts with other theoretical approaches to literature, particularly those pertaining to social discourse , psychoanalysis and, more recently, intertextuality. At the same time, it is situated at the cutting edge of the most modern computer-aided approaches to literary analysis. Ranging from a close study of the material characteristics of a given manuscript corpus—whose most apparently insignificant detail requires analysis of considerable technical sophistication and is being shown increasingly, as Claire Bustarret emphasizes, to be an integral part of the creative network under examination—to an investigation of the relationships any preliminary draft entertains with its published version, genetic criticism operVol . XLI, No. 2 L'Esprit Créateur ates in a vast field of inquiry, but never loses contact with the essential fulcrum of its overall objectives, that of the status of the writer at work. The research institution most clearly identifiable as the birthplace and dynamic seat of activity in this context is the Institut des Textes et Manuscrits Modernes (Ι.Τ.Ε.Μ.), a leading laboratory of the French research organization Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (C.N.R.S.). This research center, providing a focus for critical activity centered on literary genesis, houses several groups working on the manuscripts of specific writers, or studying the problematic genesis of writing in a transversal dimension. All the contributors to this issue are permanent members of the Institute, working in one or more of its research teams (Almuth Grésillon is former Director of the Institute, Claire Bustarret currently its Deputy Director). The importance of the contribution now being made by genetic critics to an understanding of how writing works can be gauged not just by the richness of their critical scholarship, exemplified emblematically in the international journal entitled Genesis, but also by the importance of new critical editions of many of the great classics of French, Anglo-Irish and German literature—editions which, alive to the interweaving or sometimes discordant paths of meaning which enable us to determine the global dimensions of creativity, and not just to register the erudite detail of isolated variants, encourage the reader to look afresh at such works in the light of the complete process of creation, of which the published outcome may hitherto only have been accessible. One of the most interesting innovations along these lines in recent years has been implemented by the Valéry research team of the Ι.Τ.Ε.Μ., in a major complete edition of the writer's notebooks (Cahiers 1894-1914)} Given...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 3-8
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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