Friday, May 30, 2014


Literary and Textual Criticism

David Kovacs, "Treading the Circle Warily: Literary Criticism and the Text of Euripides," Transactions of the American Philological Association 117 (1987) 257-270 (at 258-259):
Literary critics sometimes think of their own studies as occupying a position of lofty elevation over the niggling work of textual critics, and of textual criticism as involving excessive worry about whether to read δέ, τε, or γε, to the neglect of weightier issues. Likewise, some text-critics speak as if their subject were somehow exempt from the vagaries of opinion and subjective judgment that beset literary criticism. Both these views are mistaken. Even the choice between δέ, τε, and γε is sometimes fraught with important questions of interpretation editors themselves may be unaware of. And if the literary interpreters compound the editors' omissions by not considering all the textual evidence for themselves, they may never learn that some of the questions they bring to the text have already been answered—perhaps incorrectly—before they themselves even began to consider them.
Id., pp. 269-270 (footnote omitted):
If these discussions carry conviction, certain general conclusions are suggested. First, progress in the establishment or interpretation of the text can be made only by those who relinquish prejudices and predispositions about how sound the text is. At one time the readings of the manuscripts must be defended against misguided criticism, and at another they must be attacked and their misguided defenses exploded. There is no room for parti pris, and the consistent conservative, prepared to defend the mss. at all costs, and the thorough-going skeptic, indulging his prurigo emendandi in season and out, are equally likely to miss the truth. Second, neither the literary critic who cannot be bothered with the small print at the foot of the page nor the textual critic who thinks he can leave literary questions to others is well fitted to advance our understanding of classical antiquity's imperfectly transmitted remains. What is needed is the ability to see and weigh all the relevant evidence, to be neither a textual nor a literary critic but a critic simpliciter.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?