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76 Comparative Drama W . B. Y ea ts: T he W riting o f The Player Queen. Manuscripts of W. B. Yeats transcribed, edited and with a commentary by Curtis Baker Bradford. DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 1977. Pp. xxvi + 483. $30.00. Soon after I began my graduate studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D. C., a professor there directed me to read L a V ie In tellectu elle by Sertillanges with the suggestion that this be my guidebook to the vocation to which I had been called. The volume’s religious overtones were strong and the message ascetic: to pursue the truth you must put aside all other distractions, including those of friend­ ship. At twenty-one I found the idea repellent and unnecessarily severe and wondered if I had after all been destined not to become a scholar. These memories were evoked by a reading of Curtis Bradford’s W . B. Y eats: T he W riting o f The Player Queen, published posthumously, with an appreciation of the man by David R. Clark, General Editor of the series, M an u scripts o f W . B. Y eats. For Bradford clearly was that scholar envisioned by Sertillanges, a man dedicated to the most exacting exercises of the scholarly way of life, yet evidently, according to the testimony of his friends, still a man with deep emotional commitments to other human beings. Curtis Bradford did the groundwork for a generation of Yeats scholars, transcribing thousands of pages of the poet’s manuscripts. Most of Brad­ ford’s work remained unpublished, but his reading texts of such works as T he S p eck led B ird, the M em oirs, and the Leo Africanus papers were available to later editors when they made diplomatic transcriptions. Many Yeats scholars have relied on Bradford’s Y ea ts at W ork to provide a framework for their study not only of the manuscripts but of the later revisions of the published works. Clearly we cannot ignore Bradford’s work on T he P layer Q ueen, a play whose manuscript development was so complex that a study of it would require a monograph or even a book according to Bradford’s own early estimate. Perhaps because of the problems surrounding the posthumous pub­ lication of Bradford’s final work on the Yeats manuscripts, few chose to review the edition when it first appeared. The story has already been made public of how the press did not send page proofs, but rather moved directly to print without fully incorporating the corrections made on the galleys by David Clark and, in some instances, by Russell K. Alspach, editor of T he V ariorum E dition o f th e P lays o f W . B. Y eats. This omis­ sion is much to be lamented, for the work is important and one to which Bradford brought a lifetime’s experience with the Yeats manuscripts. Bradford died while his typescript was still in preparation, according to the testimony of his literary executor, who could only assure Clark that the typescript was an accurate reading of Bradford’s work at that stage. While extremely fortunate in the outcome that saw Clark assume responsibility for bringing the volume through the press and that involved Marion Witt as an advisor and Russell Alspach in checking references to the V ariorum texts, Bradford was less so in the apparent opacity of the Press as to the importance of galley corrections and a second set of proofs. Reviews 77 As a result, while the statements in the Preface to the volume are true insofar as they claim that Clark and Alspach read the text and made corrections, those who use the volume must be aware that the text as printed does not have their authority behind it and that, while the printed volume does honor Bradford’s typescript in the main, it cannot present the further close reading and revision Bradford would surely have wanted to make before he submitted his work for publication. Bradford’s work on T he P layer Q ueen remains, in spite of this pub­ lication history...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1936-1637
Print ISSN
0010-4078
Pages
pp. 76-80
Launched on MUSE
2018-07-11
Open Access
No
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