[INDOLOGY] A question on critical edition

Dominik Wujastyk wujastyk at gmail.com
Mon Oct 11 21:08:55 UTC 2021

Because "We do not have a clear idea as to why he did it" the 1930s edition
cannot be considered a critical edition, at least on this point.  What
makes a critical edition *critical* is that the editor takes a historical
and explanatory approach to the work and shares with the reader the
evidence and reasoning for the text of the work that is printed. None of
this happened in 1930.  So the G2 reading has to be considered a
conjectural emendation but given little weight by itself because it
contradicts all the manuscripts and is unexplained.  Only when good
internal arguments for accepting the reading G2 instead of G1 are given
could the G2 conjecture be given any weight.

If there's really no other background or evidence for G2 in the
manuscripts, no data, no reasoning, then I think one can't assert that this
work contains G2.  One has to say that the oldest version of the work that
we can reconstruct contains G1.  It may be an ancient error, or all
manuscripts may be derived from one original, erroneous manuscript.  We
don't know.  But what the manuscripts unanimously say is G1, and we just
have to swallow that fact, however awkward.

Further discussion about how impossible G1 may be, how it must be a
mistake, etc., are "secondary criticism" and are of course perfectly good.


On Fri, 17 Sept 2021 at 07:36, Sudalaimuthu Palaniappan via INDOLOGY <
indology at list.indology.info> wrote:

> Dear Indologists,
> I have a theoretical question related to creating a critical edition. An
> editor of an ancient text in an Indian language dated about two millennia
> ago published an edition of the text in the 1920s. The text described a
> particular geographic area and calls it by a generic name (G1) which really
> contradicts the description that goes with it. But, G1 was found in all the
> manuscripts available. None of the manuscripts was more than 300 years old.
> Then he published another edition of the same text in the 1930s in which G1
> is emended to G2. We do not have a clear idea as to why he did it. By this
> change, the internal contradiction between the description of the
> geographic area and G1 is eliminated. G2 also is a synonym of a specific
> geographic area mentioned in the text elsewhere. Finally, using a sandhi
> rule, one can get G2 from G1. It is as if the editor has assumed that all
> the manuscripts contained an error, which occurred as a result of someone
> sometime in the transmission line, misunderstanding the sandhi in G2, ended
> up with G1. In other words, he seems to have reconstructed G2. After the
> 1930s edition, many other scholars accepted G2 as the correct reading. This
> editor passed away in the 1940s. In the 1970s, a 6th century inscription
> was discovered which mentioned G2 for the first time.
> Should G1 or G2 be selected to be the ‘correct’ reading in a critical
> edition? Have you used such emendations in critical editions yourself or
> have you come across such emendations in other critical editions of texts?
> Thank you for your comments in advance.
> Regards,
> Palaniappan
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