Thursday, January 19, 2023


Capricious Commentators

Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, "Brief Mention," American Journal of Philology 21.1 (1900) 107-112 (at 111-112):
With all charity for divergent ideals of the editor's work, there are certain essentials that go to make up any decent performance in the editorial line. The editor may prefer to limit the range of illustrative quotation to the author himself or to congeneric literature, and yet not fall short of his duty. He may despatch matters grammatical with a word or two and escape reproach. He may decline to wander off into historical excursions and may content himself with a curt explanation of allusions and the barest summaries of situations. The use of plastic and keramic art by way of illustration is to a large extent a matter of sphere and judgment. But every side of an author is to be illuminated, and no real difficulty is to be shirked. How capricious many commentators are, is a fact that needs no emphasis. Some write to meet the demands of commerce, some to air their own notions, and, as a natural consequence, there has been gathering for some years a rebellion against commentaries, the signs of which have been noted in this Journal. We are becoming familiar with the aspect of texts devoid of apparatus beyond a general introduction and an historical and geographical register. Then there are other editions intended to smooth the way of the reader as much as possible. They do not go so far as to furnish interlinear translations, but there is ever a prompter at the reader's side, and not even the most gentle exercise of the intellect is permitted. The stores of more ambitious predecessors are laid under contribution and their notes appropriated so far as they are useful to the mild meddlers with classical literature. To these are added renderings of the most familiar idioms and turns of expression. There is an analysis, often borrowed, a few cheap illustrations, a metrical scheme, if the text is poetical, an appendix of variants to show that the editor is a critical scholar as well as a friend in need.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

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