This book draws on a lengthy experience of teaching graduates how to approach medieval books. It leads the reader through the stages of the editorial process, using part of Richard Rolle's Commentary on the Song of Songs as the working exemplar.
In the humane sciences, the need for texts is ubiquitous; they provide the regular objects of study. But far less prevalent than editions is any discussion of the premises underlying these objects, or the mechanisms by which they have been constructed. This volume takes up both challenges. First, in a preliminary chapter, it discusses what is at stake in any edition one might read; the persistent argument is that these represent products of modern scholarly decision-making, the imposition of various kinds of unity on the extremely diverse evidence medieval books offer for any literary work. This chapter also explains broadly various options for the presentation of texts - and the difficulties inherent in them all. The remainder of the volume is given over to a step-by-step guide to the process of editing (and eventually to a finished presentation of) a heretofore unpublished medieval text. The discussion seeks to exemplify the decisions editors routinely face, and to suggest ways of addressing them.
Ralph Hanna is Professor of Palaeography (Emeritus) and Emeritus Fellow at Keble College, Oxford. He is a former Guggenheim Fellow, former Fellow of the Radcliffe Institute (Harvard University), and winner of the British Academy Sir Israel Gollancz Prize for English Language 2015. His books include Editing Medieval Texts (Liverpool University Press, 2015) and Introducing English Medieval Book History: Manuscripts, their Producers and their Readers (Liverpool University Press, 2013).