- Editing Women: Papers Given at the Thirty-First Annual Conference on Editorial Problems University of Toronto, 3–4 November 1995 ed. by Ann M. Hutchison (review)
- University of Toronto Quarterly
- University of Toronto Press
- Volume 69, Number 1, Winter 1999/2000
- pp. 142-143
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- Additional Information
142 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 tractively presented in a bilingual format. (UnfortunatelYJ the Chinese text printed on the front dust-jacket for Liu Yung's poem 'To the tune "Light Willow Waist/" the correct version of which is in fact given on page 182, is much garbled - apparently a production anomaly.) This book is a work of meticulous scholarship and refined literary analysis and can be enjoyed by a wide range of readers, both specialist and general, for the wealth of insights and pleasures it offers. (MING XIE) Ann M. Hutchison, editor. Editing Women: Papers Given at the Thirty-First Annual Conference on Editorial Problems University ofToronto, 3-4 November 1995 University of Toronto Press. xviii, 144· $40.00, $14·95 In this fine book, we have some reflections of women editors on the editorialproblem~ ofworking with women writers' writing. The ambiguity, reflexivity, and doubling intrinsic to the title are matters returned to repeatedly within the text. The 1995 textual editing conference (the thirtyfirst such meeting, but the first using gender as a category of analysis) was convened by Ann Hutchison, who has also edited the proceedings. The six speakers whose remarks are now available in published form are all rich in the experience of discovering and solving the problems of editing women writers' texts. Had such a meeting been assembled fifteen years earlier, it would have caught the'editing women' at the tentative begirmings of their collective endeavours, before collaborative works like The Feminist Companion to Literature in English began to evolve towards ones like the Orlando Project. Instead we have the benefit of their reflections, both as . editors and as feminist scholars. The essays range in reverse chronological order: Joan Coldwell on Anne Wilkinson, Naomi Black on Virginia Woolf's Three Guineas, Isobel Grundy on Lady Mary WortleyMontagu, Germaine Greer on Katherine Philips, and Felicity Riddy on Julian of Norwich. Margaret Anne Doody provides a 'Response' to all, and identifies a 'running theme of our symposium that the traditional editorial authorizing of women ... has tended to recreate them as authorial unified statements.' Part of the feminist project of rethinking women's writing has been to reconsider their work in terms of gender. Scholars mustbe attuned to the unifyinginterpretationspatriarchal cultures have imposed upon women writers' texts. Such issues include the conflict between writing and family obligations, reviewers' attribution of amateurism or frivolity to work the creator considered serious, and the collaborationof a community of women in creating a work that convention decrees be attributed to a single 'author.' How are the multiple influences to be identified, and can an authentic voice be recovered? This is difficult enough to do in biography or criticism, but how is the project of feminist editing to present that complexity? Which editorial conventions will serve HUMANITIES 143 unchanged, and which need to be bent to accommodate women writers' and editors' experience of what Doody calls 'the fragile, funny work of "creating a text.11I In the bending, the editors reveal the masculine academic biases inherent in the older principles they now join in revising. Despite these revelations, both Hutchison and Doody are concerned to integrate the problems of editing women with those of editing men. What the essays show, indeedl is that a feminist political perspective has made an invaluable service to the principles of textual editing generally, by raising the questions of voice, of collaborators welcome and unwelcome, of editorial and family suppression, and of audience reception that are of critical concern to all textual editors at the end of the twentieth century. Doody 'seers] no reason to believe that men and women must be hunting different Snarks forever and a day.' Many of the papers contain the 'doubting' that Coldwell identifies between her scholarlywork on Wilkinson and Wilkinson's own interactions with the world outside her text. Three ofthe contributors, for example, refer to the question of their editions being published in paperback form. That version of Black's Three Guineas edition will be delayed for reasons of copyright; both Coldwell and Grundy regret that publishers' decisions to produce hardcover editions only, for an implied audience of family members or of reference-library consulters, will continue to restrict the opportunities of students...