Critical editions

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at
Fri Jul 7 17:33:16 UTC 1995

Vidhyanath K. Rao said:

> However, sometimes decisions about what reading to accept are based on the
> editor's conception of what the text contained ``originally''.

Yes, this is true, and is also one of the hardest parts of editing.
Ideally, as an editor of a text you should be extremely fluent in the
language and genre you are editing, almost to the point of being able
yourself to compose a work similar to the one before you.  This puts you
in a strong position to know the sort of thing your author might have
written, when you get to a difficult patch of the text.  The "dificilior
potior" rule is sometimes a useful guide, but can also be used to
justify stupid readings.  It is sometimes difficult in the extreme to
decide whether an author bungled, a scribe mangled, or one is onself
simply misunderstanding the text.

When dealing with texts in rough Sanskrit or Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit,
etc., you have to wonder to what extent you should correct the text, or
leave the readings and describe the usage as a feature of the "grammar"
of the dialect.  I can't think of any good principle for deciding such
matters.  Corrupt or just different?  Rather like the "mad or different"
issue in post-R. D. Liang psychiatry.  Do not adjust your mind: there is
a fault in reality.

It's Friday afternoon, and I digress.



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