Terrible Texts, “Marginal” Works, and the Mandate of the Moment: The Case of Eliza Haywood

Alexander PettitUniversity of North Texas
Vol. 22, No. 2 (Fall 2003), 293-314

This essay analyzes a set of disjunctions between the practice and assumptions of textual editing and the market for academic editions. Using Eliza Haywood’s texts as a case study, the essay addresses the speed with which many of the popular texts of the past were produced and the planned evanescence of texts that have retained interest long past their moment in order to encourage turn-of-the-twenty-first century feminists to carefully rethinking and revise applications of editorial principles for reprinting old texts. To a feminist concerned with history, thoughtless editing has the unfortunate correlative of producing major omissions in the historical record. The essay argues ultimately for practical editions as scholarly editions as long as these are indeed practical, that is, neither too hastily produced nor anachronistically edited.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]