An electronic edition has as many continuities with
the past as radical departures. Its fundamental mission of transferring
a portion of our cultural heritage to a new medium finds precedent in
the humanist projects of Aldus Manutius in the early 1500s, when print
was the new technology. Certainly it calls upon the same painstaking
scholarship in the service of textual accuracy that has long been the
standard of scholarly editions in print. And it recognizes the same
need for informed human judgement in selecting and presenting texts
for academic study. New media bring change, but they don't dispense
with craftsmanship. It is wise, then, not to overstate the impact of
computers in any field, especially in the wake of the hi-tech boom of
What computers do offer, however, is access, whether
that is expressed in terms of convenience or volume. An electronic edition
can bring to your desktop a facsimile of a rare document, which otherwise
you might have to travel hundreds of miles to see. Better yet, it enables
you to bring together and compare texts that are physically housed in
several different locations. Of course a similacrum is not the real
thing, and there will always be some questions that can be answered
only by consulting the book itself (happily, the role of the library
is by no means supplanted), though consulting an electronic edition
can save on a good deal of preliminary legwork. An electronic edition,
then, ought to be more than a single electronic text, but rather a collection
of electronic texts (and images) which are linked together in meaningful
Digital storage, especially in a networked environment,
is extensible in ways the printed page cannot be, allowing vast amounts
of material to be assembled and combined. An annotated electronic edition
can provide not only convenient access to explanatory notes but connections
to whole other texts invoked in the annotated passage. Likewise, a scholarly
electronic edition can offer what a traditional critical edition cannot,
that is, access to the whole body of a number of variant texts that
instantiate a literary work.
Lyrical Ballads is a good candidate to illustrate
what a scholarly electronic edition can do because it exists in so many
different forms. When Jack Stillinger warns us that "The Ancient Mariner"
went through 18 versions, each representing a distinct authorial intention
at a particular time (119-21), it is a wonder that anything at all resembling
the "literary work" can be located amid such a plurality of texts. Certainly,
it is not clear which one should be taken as authoritative, and constructing
an ideal 19th text would only add to the confusion. But perhaps traditional
textual criticism's goal of perfecting the text was as much constrained
by the limits of the printed page as motivated by any quest for the
true work of art. An electronic edition breaks with these past practices
in seeking neither to privilege any single version nor to construct
an ideal exemplar. Instead, by presenting a number of extant versions
each in their entirety, it is in tune with current editorial theory
which it seeks to ground in the practice of the new medium.
Admitting that a definitive edition is an "impossible
ideal" (McKenzie 2; see also Finneran x and McGann 102-04), many editorial
theorists now insist instead on a respect for the integrity of each
version as the embodiment of evolving intentions at a particular point
in time. Such postmodern textual scholars see the work of literature
more as "work" in the sense of an activity, and the text generated by
such work as a work-in-progress. The practical consequence of such an
approach is to acknowledge each stage of the text's development as unique
and valuable in itself, and to represent these multiple versions on
an equal footing. Editing in the traditional sense gives way to what
has been called "versioning" (Reiman 169; Greetham 237), in which textuality
comes to be represented more as a series of snapshots rather than a
single, composite portrait. The result is a "genetic" edition which
documents the historical development of the work, but which takes no
single text as its standard.
An electronic edition can accommodate this dispersal of textual authority, but (as is often the case with computers) at the risk of information overload. In theory, every version showing even the slightest typographical variant could be made available, but whether this should be the practice in electronic editions runs up against the limits of intelligibility. Some principle of selection needs to exercised on the part of electronic editors, otherwise their readers will be swamped. This electronic edition of Lyrical Ballads provides SGML-encoded texts of the five states of the work as a discrete collection authorized during Wordsworth and Coleridge's lifetimes: both the Bristol and London imprints of the first edition of 1798, and the two-volume editions of 1800, 1802, and 1805. These texts are supplemented by scanned photographic images of all the pages of the various editions, which can be compared with the encoded texts through hypertext links. In addition, this system of hypertextual linkage has been extended to make possible two kinds of navigation through the versions: any two texts may be viewed side by side, and all identified variants may be studied in context by means of a functionality we call "dynamic collation." Our aim is to assemble a serviceable scholarly electronic edition of the printed book, Lyrical Ballads, which preserves two important characteristics of the collection that traditional print editions have made it difficult to discern: first, the complex interaction between authors, publishers, and printers that brought it into being, and, second, the multiplicity of versions of the collection that readers had available to them in the early nineteenth century.
So that the reader will understand our procedures
more clearly, it is necessary to give a brief account of the publication
of each of the editions of Lyrical Ballads. This account depends
largely upon earlier scholarship, especially the bibliographical and
editorial studies of Wells, Foxon, Healey, Reed, Butler and Green; those
seeking more detailed information should consult their works. These
and other commentaries are listed in our selected bibliography of scholarly
studies, which provides links where these exist online.
When in 1798 Wordsworth and Coleridge decided to publish
a volume of poems, they were not primarily thinking of ways to revolutionize
English poetry. Instead, as Mark Reed has shown, they needed money for
an extended trip to Germany, where William and Dorothy Wordsworth were
to become fluent in German, and where Coleridge would study at German
universities (Reed 1965). With this is mind, they turned to Joseph Cottle,
the Bristol publisher and bookseller who had already published several
volumes of Coleridge's poetry, and could be depended upon to come to
the financial aid of fledgling authors. Several proposals were put forward,
including a joint publication of the poets' two tragedies, Osorio
and The Borderers, a single volume containing "The Ruined
Cottage" and "Salisbury Plain," or "Salisbury Plain" and "Peter Bell,"
and even a two-volume set of Wordsworth's poetical works. But all of
these proposals came to naught, and by late May of 1798, Cottle had
agreed to publish a collection of ballads, including Coleridge's "Rime
of the Ancyent Marinere," Wordsworth's "The Thorn" and "The Idiot Boy,"
as well as other poems that the two authors had ready for the press.
The volume would appear anonymouslyaccording to Coleridge, "Wordsworth's
name is nothing[and] to a large number of persons mine stinks"and
Cottle agreed to advance the poets thirty guineas as payment (Butler
& Green 3-12, 43-44).
At Coleridge's insistence, typesetting began almost
immediately, and the first poem to be set was "The Rime of the Ancyent
Marinere." Wordsworth himself was frequently in Bristol "to superintend
the printing" (Letters: Early Years 219), and the result was
a remarkably well-printed volume: there were just five printer's errors
corrected on an errata sheet, and a handful of others that were noticed
and corrected in the printing process. By late August, the entire volume
was ready for binding, and Cottle bound up a few copies apparently for
private circulation. Subsequently, and perhaps because of readers' reactions,
the authors made two major changes to their collection: Coleridge's
poem "The Nightingale" was substituted for his "Lewti" (probably because
the latter poem had already appeared in The Morning Post, and
its inclusion might compromise the anonymity of Lyrical Ballads),
and a brief explanatory preface, called an "Advertisement," was written
and inserted just before the table of contents. A few more copies were
then bound up, some of them for the poets and their friends, including
Coleridge, Robert Southey, J. F. Pinney, and probably Thomas Lovell
Beddoes; some of those copies were what Reed has called "archival copies,"
in that they included both "Lewti" and "The Nightingale" (Reed 1998).
The result is that the first printing of Lyrical Ballads existed
in multiple versions almost from the start. Of the fourteen surviving
copies with the Bristol imprint, three contain "Lewti" and neither "The
Nightingale" nor the "Advertisement," two contain "Lewti," "The Nightingale,"
and the "Advertisement" (one of these, Robert Southey's copy, has two
different tables of contents), and nine copies contain "The Nightingale"
and the "Advertisement" (Reed 1998). Of these nine, one also contains,
following "The Nightingale," an extra leaf on which is printed Beddoes'
"Domiciliary Verses," a poem which parodies The Lyrical Ballads.
If Duncan Wu and Reed are right, this was Beddoes's own copy (Wu; Reed
At the last minute, just as the Wordsworths and Coleridge
were about to leave for Germany, Cottle decided not to publish the book
himself. He was concerned about his growing financial difficulties (for
this reason, he quit the bookselling business the next year), and, fearing
that the volume would do poorly, he began to look for a London publisher.
T. N. Longman was certainly approached but just as certainly refused
Cottle's offer. Wordsworth approached the prominent liberal publisher,
Joseph Johnson, who had previously published An Evening Walk
and Descriptive Sketches, and Johnson agreed to assume publication.
But Cottle, probably independent of Wordsworth's efforts and certainly
without telling him, offered and sold the copyright to the more obscure
firm of J. & A. Arch. Thus, on October 3, 1798, Wordsworth wrote
from Germany that he still did not know who his publisher was, and on
the next day, October 4, 1798, Lyrical Ballads finally appeared
in London bookshops with a title page bearing the London imprint of
J. & A. Arch (Butler & Green 14-15). It was composed entirely
of sheets printed and bound for the Bristol imprint; only a new title
page was added as a cancel.
In spite of its haphazard beginnings and a few hostile
reviews (most notably by Robert Southey in the Critical Review
and Charles Burney in the Monthly Review), the first edition
of Lyrical Ballads sold reasonably well, and sales were aided
in 1800 by the support of Mary Robinson in The Morning Post,and
by a pair of strongly favorable notices in The British Critic and
The Anti-jacobin Review (Butler & Green 23-24; Woof 172-175).
In the meantime, William and Dorothy Wordsworth and Coleridge had returned
to England, the Wordsworths to take up residence in Grasmere, and Coleridge,
after spending a few months in London, relocated himself and his family
at Greta Hall, near Keswick, a few miles up the road from the Wordsworths.
Upon settling in Grasmere, Wordsworth began writing a series of new
poems, most of them about places and people in the Lake District, several
of which he called pastorals. Together with poems written in Germany,
these gave Wordsworth a significant body of new work which he was eager
to publish, and Coleridge, still residing in London, acted as his agent.
Negotiations were begun with the firm of T. N. Longman for a second
edition of Lyrical Ballads, and by June, 1800, Wordsworth was
able to write his brother, Richard, that the first edition had sold
out, and that Longman had agreed to publish a second edition, for which
he would be paid £80 (Butler & Green 23-24). It was to include a
second volume of new poems, and a substantial new "Preface." One poem,
Wordsworth's "The Convict" was withdrawn from volume I, and in its place,
Coleridge's "Love" was added.
Over the next six months, Lyrical Ballads (1800)
was printed. It is, remarked George H. Healey, "bibliographically the
most complex of all Wordsworth's books," and the reasons for its complexity
are not far to seek (Healey 6). First, although Wordsworth and Coleridge
had contracted with Longman for a new volume of poems, and although
Wordsworth himself had a considerable stock of new poems already written,
Coleridge's intended contributions (including Christabel and
a group of poems to be set in the Lake District) were either unwritten
or unfinished. Second, the Bristol firm of Biggs and Cottle was again
engaged to print the volume. But this time the authors could not oversee
the printing process because they were in the Lake District, hundreds
of miles away. Their only means of communication with the printer was
by post, and their letters sometimes took weeks to arrive. To compensate
for this difficulty, they enlisted the services of the young chemist,
Humphry Davy, newly famous for his studies of the effects of nitrous
oxide. Davy was asked to check over the printer's manuscripts and the
printed proofs, and even to add and correct punctuation. But Davy was
by no means privy to the poets' intentions, and thus would not have
been able to answer accurately printer's queries, nor was he especially
qualified as a proofreader, and, to make matters worse, he was ill much
of the autumn of 1800 and was probably not able to offer much assistance.
Third, the letters containing the manuscript poems were sent over a
period of several months, between late July and December, 1800, and
Wordsworth revised poems that had been sent in earlier letters, changed
the arrangement of the poems even after the printing process had begun,
and even tried to change the title of the volume. At least one letter
was lost in the mail, causing further delays. And then, in October,
1800, the poets made the most significant, and most controversial, change
of all: they withdrew the longest new poem in the second volume, Coleridge's
Christabel, and eventually substituted for it Wordsworth's pastoral
poem, "Michael," which, at the time Christabel was withdrawn,
had not yet been conceived of. As a result, Biggs and Cottle had to
cancel the first printed leaf of the "Preface," which mentioned Christabel,
and to delay publication of the new edition until Wordsworth had finished
his 485-line poem. The delays meant that Longman could not distribute
the volumes in time to take advantage of the 1800 Christmas trade, and
Biggs and Cottle had to rush "Michael" through the press. Inevitably,
they made a big mistake: fifteen lines of the poem, crucial to the plot,
were omitted, and Wordsworth complained that the volume "is throughout
miserably printed," while Coleridge fumed over "an infamous Blunder
of the Printer" (Butler & Green 26-31, 123-125; Healey 6).
Besides complaining, Wordsworth was quick to send
Longman corrections to "Michael".
On April 9, 1801, less than three months after the volumes appeared,
he advised Thomas Poole to send to Longman for a "half a sheet" containing
corrections. The phrase "half a sheet" refers either to a printed paste-in
which supplies the fifteen lines missing from "Michael," or to printed
cancels containing both the missing lines and a new, twenty-seven-item
errata leaf, which were usually bound into the second volume of Lyrical
Ballads, but may have been issued separately as well. The paste-in
survives in two copies, one in the Huntington Library, and the other
at Swarthmore College. It is not a handsome thing: the type does not
match the rest of the volume in size or font, the inner and outer edges
of the paper are torn, not cut, and, in the Huntington copy, it is not
even pasted in straight. John Edwin Wells, who purchased the Swarthmore
copy in the 1930s, suspected that the paste-in may have been a sophistication
added later by a not wholly scrupulous bookseller (Wells, Library).
More recently, Butler and Green seem convinced that it represents Longman's
earliest, rather crude effort to correct the printer's error (Butler
& Green 126). The cancels, on the other hand, are a much more attractive,
professional-looking effort. They match the paper, font, and the layout
of the original volume, and replace pages 209-212 with a new set of
pages, numbered 209-210, *209-*210, 211-212. The four-item errata leaf
of the first printing, pages 227- was also replaced, and the new
errata leaf contains twenty-seven items, correcting most of the rest
of the printer's errors, and offering several new readings as well (Healey
6; Butler & Green 126; Wells, PMLA). If one counts three
copies that are currently unlocated, only about a dozen surviving copies
of Lyrical Ballads (1800) contain the cancels (of these, one
contains just the "Michael" cancels; another just the new errata leaf),
which suggests that they were added only after most of the copies had
been sold or distributed to other booksellers (Healey 6). In any case,
what was true of the 1798 printing was also true of the edition of 1800:
multiple versions circulated, as a result either of printer's errors,
miscommunications between authors and printers, or the authors' own
revisions. Lyrical Ballads (1800) was clearly a work in progress,
even as it appeared in published form.
In fact, preparations for a new edition began almost
as soon as the errors in the 1800 volumes had been corrected. Using
two proof copies of the 1800 edition which contained the cancels, the
Wordsworths began entering revisions and corrections , keeping one copy
for themselves and eventually sending the other to Longman as printer's
copy for a new edition. This process began during the summer of 1801,
and was complete by April, 1802 (Butler & Green 31-32). Some of
the changes were matters of formatting and presentation: the order of
the poems was changed, some poems were omitted and others were moved
to the second volume, and a new half-title was added after the "Preface,"
with an epigraph from Quintilian. Other changes were more extensive:
a long section was added to the middle of the "Preface," containing
the famous definition of the poet ("a man speaking to men") and the
comparison of the poet and the "man of science," an "Appendix" concerning
"poetic diction" was added at the end of volume I, a note to the "Ancient
Mariner" was dropped, and, among the poems, "Ruth" was drastically revised.
Two new poems, "Louisa" and "I travell'ed among unknown men," were initially
intended to be published in the second volume of the new edition, but
were later withdrawn. Drafts towards them survive in a family copy of
Lyrical Ballads (1800), now at St. John's College, Cambridge,
and a note about the placement of "Louisa" is included in a proof copy
of Lyrical Ballads (1800) containing the revisions for 1802,
now in the Beinecke Library (Curtis 196-201; Butler & Green xxxiv-xxxv).
The third edition of Lyrical Ballads appeared
in June, 1802, just in time to achieve notoriety. That year the inaugural
number of the Edinburgh Review was published, and in the October
number, in a review of Southey's Thalaba, Francis Jeffrey began
his long campaign against Wordsworth and the "Lake School" of poetry.
This notoriety may have spurred Longman to market the volumes more aggressively:
full-page notices, quoting liberally from favorable reviews, began to
appear in Longman's advertisements in the backs of better selling works,
such as Southey's edition of Chatterton (1803) and Joanna Baillie's
Miscellaneous Plays (1804), and adverts for Lyrical Ballads
appeared side-by-side with ones for the best-selling poem of the time,
Robert Bloomfield's The Farmer's Boy. But Longman's marketing
efforts seem to have had little effect : the print run of 500 copies
took almost three years to sell out (Butler & Green 32)at
a time when a competing collection, Bloomfield's Rural Tales, Ballads,
and Songs, sold thousands of copies in less than a single year
and it was not until October 9, 1805 that the fourth and final authorized
edition of Lyrical Ballads appeared.
Lyrical Ballads (1805) has historically been
considered the least interesting of all the editions of the collection.
Few authorial changes were made: no new poems were added, no old ones
subtracted, and no new front or back matter was included. Only "Ruth"
received extensive revisions, and most of those were reversions to the
text of 1800. But though the authors made few significant changes to
the text, a change was made by the publisher that subtly affected how
the new edition would be read: Longman changed printers. Rather than
the firm of Biggs and Cottle, which by 1802 had relocated to London,
Longman entrusted the printing of the 1805 volumes to R. Taylor of Shoe-Lane,
London. Taylor's firm imposed much more rigorous standards of spelling,
capitalization, and punctuation than had been practiced by Biggs and
Cottle, it used more modern type, eliminating altogether the archaic
ct ligature and the long "s" and, on the whole, Taylor produced the
most consistently-printed edition of Lyrical Ballads that we
have. Because of this consistency, as well as the avoidance of archaic
typography, the 1805 edition is also more modern in appearance: with
this printing, Lyrical Ballads looks to its readers less like
a quaint holdover of the late eighteenth century, and more like a fully
The 1805 Lyrical Ballads was the last authorized edition of the collection to appear. By 1815, Wordsworth's contributions had been dispersed throughout the first collected edition of his poems, and by the 1820 collection, the phrase "Lyrical Ballads" had disappeared from his title page. Coleridge, too, had republished his contributions in Sybilline Leaves (1817), the same year in which he publicly distanced himself from his collaborator's critical opinions in Biographia Literaria. Pirated editions of Lyrical Ballads, made up of leftover sheets from Longman's various print runs, appeared in 1820, at least one of which is actually a reprint of one volume of Poems, in Two Volumes (1807) (Butler & Green 32; Wells, PQ 398-402; Healey 22). But Wordsworth himself had gone on to other things: to tour poetry, sonnet sequences, and, of course, the unfinished Recluse. And so had Coleridge, bringing to an end one of the most important collaborations in the history of English poetry.
This edition reproduces full texts of five editions
or states of the Lyrical Ballads, encoded in SGML according to
the guidelines of the Text-Encoding Initiative. We have used the "lite"
version of the TEI document-type definition (DTD), and have made no
modifications to it. Throughout, we have used the <L> tag for
individual lines, and have included the line number as an attribute
value (n="101"). We have also used the <LG> (line group) tag to
indicate stanzas and verse paragraphs; the "type" attribute has been
used to distinguish stanzas from verse paragraphs (type="stanza" or
type="verseparagraph"); we have also numbered stanzas and verse paragraphs,
again using the "n" attribute. Thus our texts can be searched in a variety
of different ways, depending on the search engine used, and the ingenuity
of the user.
Our textual transcriptions are based on specific copies
of the collection: the Princeton University copy of the Bristol imprint
of 1798; and the Simon Fraser University copies of the London (1798)
imprint and the two-volume editions of 1800, 1802, and 1805. Our aim
is to produce texts of the collection that represent, as closely as
possible, the actual texts available to readers in the early nineteenth
century, and thus we have transcribed these copies exactly as they appear,
even to the extent of preserving some printer's errors. In the case
of printer's errors, our rationale is that when these errors are corrected
in the printing process, either by cancels, errata sheets, or some other
means, they preserve important records of the interaction between publisher
and author. When there are uncorrected printer's errors, or errors that
can be attributed to type batter, we have silently corrected them, primarily
so that they do not impede electronic searches of our transcribed texts.
Thus the error "horsebehind," found in some copies of the 1798 edition
(including the Simon Fraser copy of the London printing), is silently
corrected, as are several errors attributable to type batter on page
204 of the 1798 edition. But the error "fog smoke-white," corrected
to "fog-smoke white" in the errata to the 1798 edition, is left uncorrected,
as are the errors "te" and "becn" in "The Idiot Boy" (1800), which are
corrected with a cancel leaf in some copies. Our aim is also to make
possible the kinds of analysis that an electronic environment can provide:
electronic searches, performed according to a variety of criteria; side-by-side
comparison of various editions; even studies of layout and typography,
using digital images of pages of the printed copies. It must be stressed,
however, that the focus of this electronic edition is our lightly edited
transcriptions of the selected versions. Images are linked to each page
only for the purposes of illustrating features of layout and typography
that electronic texts are inept at reproducing. Page images may be called
up when required, but are not continuously linked to one another as
on a spoolmicrofilm exists for that purpose.
Our decision to base our texts on specific copies
has led us to make a potentially controversial decision regarding our
reading texts. Most print editions attempt to represent authorial intent.
Our edition does not. Rather, it attempts to preserve the artifact,
the printed book Lyrical Ballads, in a digital form that approximates
what it actually looked like in its various material forms. This procedure
has meant that, in the case of the 1800 edition, we have chosen to privilege
the most commonly available printing of volume two, the one which omits
fifteen lines of "Michael." We would like eventually supply a full text
of volume two with the "Michael" cancel, based on the copy at the University
of Colorado, and we will also supply a text based on the Swarthmore
copy of volume two that contains the paste-in correction. But,
for this web-based edition, we only reproduced text and page images
of the cancels and the paste-in, and have included them in a separate
A similar, though less controversial, problem exists
regarding the advertisement leaf published with both the Bristol and
London imprints of 1798. When published, all copies of this edition
included a leaf advertising fourteen works published by T. N. Longman
for Joseph Cottle, including works by Southey, Beddoes, Coleridge, and
Cottle himself. This leaf was often removed by nineteenth-century bookbinders.
As it happens, the advertisement leaf survives in the Princeton copy
of the Bristol imprint; in the Simon Fraser copy of the London imprint
it does not. Our transcriptions and page images reflect this state of
things. We do not, however, mean to imply that the advertisement leaf
was not included in the London imprint: it was.
A word needs to be said about the digital images. Our digital images are, for the most part, taken from the Simon Fraser copies. In the case of the Bristol (1798) imprint, we have used the Simon Fraser images of the London (1798) imprint when they do not differ from the Princeton copy. For the cases in which they do differ, we have used images from the Princeton copy itself, or, in the case of "Lewti," images from one of the Yale copies of the Bristol (1798) imprint that contain that poem. Our reasons for this procedure are practical. First, except when sheets containing new material were added, the Bristol and London imprints were made from the same printed sheets, produced at the same time. Thus it is obviously cheaper to use one set of images rather than two. Second, the Bristol imprint is so valuable, and its copies so fragile, that it is irresponsible to subject any one of them to the kind of wear that producing complete photographic facsimiles would entail. In fact, it is best to photograph each copy as little as possible. Since the text of "Lewti" is identical in all the five copies which contain it, and was produced in the same print run, we took those images from the relatively well-bound copy at Yale, rather than further weaken the copy at Princeton, the binding of which is in rather delicate condition.
Representing the different choices an artist makes
at particular times has long been a problem for compilers of genetic
editions. The traditional apparatus criticus relies on footnotes
which are visually subordinate to some single text, and conceptually
therefore variations from some standard. Only with great difficulty
can the reader reconstruct the various texts from this scheme, whether
by mentally plugging in the textual variants to the printed page or
by laboriously re-transcribing the text with the selected variants.
Transposing lists of textual variants to the electronic medium would
only prolong this difficulty, and perhaps even compound it by adding
more heaps of information which it becomes increasingly troublesome
to sort through. This electronic edition of Lyrical Ballads instead
attempts a new approach to the table of variants which takes advantage
of some of the features that distinguish electronic text from print.
"Dynamic collation" is proposed as a new form of critical
apparatus appropriate to computer-based editions. It is a navigational
system of hypertext links that is designed to take advantage of the
new medium's potential for animation. In contrast to the stasis of the
printed page, hypertext involves a series of apparent "leaps" from one
spot to another. Machines such as the Hinman collator have been in existence
for some time, and are well-known for the way they compare texts and
provide visual cues to changes. Electronic representation, however,
allows us to dispense with cranks and mirrors by quickly marshalling
parallel passages from the SGML files and displaying their textual variations
in the context of the version in which they appear.
Using complex perl-scripts that work in the background,
our electronic edition replaces static footnotes with the scheme of
active comparison we call dynamic collation. What is seen on the screen
is an array of four windows displaying the text of any poem as it varies
through the four lifetime editions (1798, 1800, 1802, 1805). This parallel
display is accompanied by a fifth window on the left which maps the
changes in the poem as descriptive hyperlinks. Clicking on a link in
this "variant map" causes the text in each of the four windows to leap
to the same line where the revision in question may be observed in context.
This variant map turns the concept of footnotes inside out, putting
the revised texts in the foreground and relegating the reference to
an operation on the side. This reconceptualization of how variant readings
can be represented in the electronic environment tests in actual practice
David Greetham's proposition that "dismembering scholarly apparatus"
will be a consequence of the transition to the new medium (Greetham
Though the texts in each of the four windows can be
scrolled through independently, dynamic collation is intended to be
driven by the variant map to the left. The variant map acts a guide
to revisions that were made at various stages in the poem's development.
It is based on the poem to the extent that it reproduces the text of
the poem wherever changes were not made, but whenever a change in any
of the versions under consideration is encountered it substitutes a
descriptive hyperlink for the variants themselves. Scrolling down the
variant map, the reader is thus alerted by a sort of palimpsest that
an alteration has been made, and by clicking on the "hotspot" or hyperlink
can summon up the parallel passages. Replacing a standard or base text
with an abstract variant map ensures the neutrality of versions and
at the same time builds on the dynamism of the medium, for the hiatus
in reading caused by running across a link cues the reader to click
on the spot and look to the right (in the direction of our accustomed
flow of reading) to learn the word or character elided and to compare
texts. Rather than footnotes which distract attention from a definitive
text, the variant map is an abstraction of the poem which does not privilege
one version of the text over another and that piques the reader's curiosity
by means of gaps in the text to pursue the significance of revisions
made in successive versions.
Dynamic collation may be regarded as a region in the
topography of an electronic edition which is dedicated to close study
of textual variation. Reading for pleasure is best accommodated in the
region denominated "The Texts". For the sake of convenience, a third
region has been provided in which the full texts of any two of the printed
versions of Lyrical Ballads may be compared. It is left to the
reader to decide on the priority among these.
As readers may note certain variations not marked
in the dynamic collation scheme, it is appropriate to comment on the
variants selected and on how they are designated. Changes in actual
wording are marked as [diction], together with the year of the edition
affected. When whole lines or stanzas are cut or added, or in some cases
moved, these are marked with appropriate descriptions, accompanied as
in all cases by the year. Glaring typographical errors, especially when
they are distinctive bibliographic features of the printings, are marked
as [typo]. The occurrence of the long "s" in the "Ancient Mariner" is
marked as such, as this is one of the striking features of the first
edition. Changes in spelling, capitalization, and hyphenation are marked
throughout, especially as cumulatively they are a distinguishing feature
of the 1805 edition. In the interest of avoiding information overload,
changes in punctuation have not been marked, except for a number of
dashes and exclamation points which have been marked as [punc] purely
for purposes of demonstration. On reflection though, if all changes
in punctuation were to be accounted for consistently, it would wise
to do so in a separate dynamic collation devoted to such variants exclusively.
Future upgrades of this electronic edition, then, might include a more elaborate apparatus, although the energies of the editors might be better expended on improving the searchability of the texts. Such improvement, however, would require another layer of SGML markup, and would necessitate considerable deliberation on precisely what features should be encoded so a search engine could find them. In future iterations we hope also to provide digital texts and images of more variant printings of the Lyrical Ballads, including full texts of several of the Bristol (1798) printings, the variant printings of Lyrical Ballads (1800), and the American edition of Lyrical Ballads, published in Philadelphia in 1802. In addition, we hope to provide digital images and searchable transcriptions of the surviving printer's manuscripts of the collection, when the technological means of representing manuscript revisions improves. We shall rely on readers' responses in determining the directions in which we will go.
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Curtis, Jared R. "A Note on the Lost Manuscripts of William Wordsworth's `Louisa' and `I travell'd among unknown men'." Yale University Library Gazette 53 (1979): 196-201.
Finneran, Richard. The Literary Text in the Digital Age. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan Press, 1996.
Foxon, D. F. "The Printing of Lyrical Ballads, 1798." The Library, 9 (1954): 221-241.
Greetham, D. C. Theories of the Text. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999.
Healey, George Harris. The Cornell Wordsworth Collection: A Catalogue of Books and Manuscripts presented to the University by Mr. Victor Emanuel, Cornell, 1919. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1957.
McGann, Jerome J. A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism. Chicago: U of Chicago Press, 1983.
McKenzie, D. F. Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999.
Reed, Mark L. "The First Title Page of Lyrical Ballads, 1798." Philological Quarterly 51 (1998): 230-240.
---. "Wordsworth, Coleridge, and the `Plan' of the Lyrical Ballads." University of Toronto Quarterly 34 (1965): 238-253.
Reiman, Donald. Romantic Texts and Contexts. Columbia: U of Missouri Press, 1987.
Stillinger, Jack. Coleridge and Textual Instability. New York: Oxford UP, 1994.
Wells, John Edwin. "Lyrical Ballads, 1800: A Paste-In." The Library 19 (1939): 486-491.
---. "Lyrical Ballads, 1800: Cancel Leaves." PMLA 53 (1938): 207-229.
---. "Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads, 1820." Philological Quarterly 17 (1938): 398-402.
Wordsworth, William and Dorothy. The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth: The Early Years, 1787-1805. Ernest de Selincourt, editor; revised by Chester Shaver. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1967.
Wu, Duncan. "Lyrical Ballads, (1798): The Beddoes
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Romantic Circles / Electronic Editions / Lyrical Ballads / Editors' Preface