n English in Africa - Recent editions of Livingstone's poetry and the ethics of editing in South Africa
|Article Title||Recent editions of Livingstone's poetry and the ethics of editing in South Africa|
|© Publisher:||Institute for the Study of English in Africa (ISEA)|
|Journal||English in Africa|
|Publication Date||May 2008|
|Pages||177 - 186|
Is it appropriate to think of editing in ethical terms? It seems to be taken for granted (not only in South Africa) that much depends on the individual judgement or predilections of an editor when it comes to editing a work. Thus the principal issue might be more one of taste than of ethics (Lister 2006). Yet as an editor one surely puts a sense of responsibility before personal idiosyncrasy. Responsibility to what? Many would argue (perhaps even those who feel less responsible to a subjective centre of origin than to the objective historical and sociological forces evident in the various versions and receptions of a work) that one is primarily responsible accurately to present the author's final intentions. This is one's fundamental duty, and a duty is an ethical responsibility; the matter seems cut and dried. Of course, as Paul Eggert, for instance, has long since shown, it is not. Consider the case of Ted Hughes's Collected Poems, edited by Paul Keegan. Keegan has to deal with the fact that Hughes changed poems from earlier volumes for certain later collections and selections but left them in their original guise in reprints of the original volumes which followed those later collections and selections (ix). Hughes felt no obligation to a telos of versions where latest is best, and the editor was in fact duty-bound to represent this confusing vision (confusing, that is, for an editor, who always looks for simplicity and clarity in the presentation of works). At least nothing is lost and everything is gained.
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