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Embedded Format and Extra-Text Lionel J. Friedman A S PROFESSORS FOULET AND SPEER INDICATE . . the editor has to reckon with . . . the author, the scribe, and the reader.” 1Though editorial attention usually goes to the author’s usus scribendi, some thought should be given to what influence the usus legendi of the reader may have on the interpretation of a text. An author’s writing habits, his style, his rhetorical preferences or choice of rhyme quality are fixed historically, closed by his death. The reader’s habits remain open so long as the work has one. What follows will exam­ ine cursorily how the format which an editor imposes on a text may influ­ ence the reader’s reception. A Racine tragedy illuminates how much material essential to the per­ formance of a play is embedded in the text of the dramatic poem: details of costume, accessories, movements, attitudes, and the like. It contrasts markedly with the quantity of information which Beaumarchais or Hugo give about costumes, sets, gestures, interpretation of roles, what is hap­ pening by means of either stage directions accompanying the text, or pre­ liminary observations in casts of characters, prefaces, or “examens.” All this detail, rather than being embedded in the characters’ speeches, accompanies the dialog as extra-text. It may be of two sorts: that sup­ plied by the author or that supplied by an editor. In literary works not intended for performance, we find similar information pertinent to for­ matting either embedded in the author’s text or in extra-text added by the author, a scribe, or an editor. When isan author not an author?—In the Roman de la Rose the Dieu d’Amours oracularly proclaims, by direct quotation of verses, that Guillaume de Lords will leave off the poem at a given point where Jean de Meun will pick it up. The revelation comes about 6500 lines after the transition in authorship. The oracle embeds in the text the location of change in authors. Since Langlois’ descriptions of MSS indicate few which add extra-text at this junction, it appears few scribes felt it neces­ sary to mark it and let the reader make the discovery later. Early printed editions, including the “Marot” edition, which regularly insert rhymed rubrics into the text, do so at this moment, too. In contrast to the scribes, modern editors mark the change clearly as Vol.XXVII, No. 1 101 L ’E spr it C r é a t e u r soon as it occurs, by a switch in author’s name on the verso of each page, by a noticeable number of blanks between the end of one author’s text and the beginning of the other’s. Mary’s modern translation suspends the Amant’s monolog with a heading. Dahlberg’s English translation strongly emphasizes the relay of the authorial baton, setting up an inter­ vening page, labelling what follows “Part II,” indicating the new author’s name, and entitling the part “The Overthrow of Reason,” just as he called the first “The Dream of Love.” Such formatting betrays the importance our age attaches to questions of authorship per se, at least in some cases. Dahlberg’s title conveys a whole, implicit exegetic program. The more discrete intrusions of other editors are, however, also pregnant with interpretation. The Rose is not the only famous medieval romance to change authors before having run its course. The different treatment given this detail in formatting the Chevalier de la Charrette inclines to the belief that extraneous considerations are operating. The text of the Charrette, like the Rose, reveals no switch in author where it occurs, delaying this revelation until a fifteen-line epilog at the end. Only then does the reader learn that the preceding 950 verses are a confection of Godefroi de Leigni. Except for Tarbé, who marks the place with a footnote sending to editorial comment at the bottom of the page and who discusses the change in an introductory essay, editors handle this case differently from the preceding. Foerster and Roques relegate the entire problem to the Introduction, make no break in the text, give no immediate indication such occurs. Honesty forces the admission...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 101-110
Launched on MUSE
2017-07-05
Open Access
No
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