Colvin and the first Edinburgh Edition
For our edition we hope to collate the text that Colvin prepared for the first collected edition of Stevenson’s works, The Edinburgh Edition (1894-8). RLS was involved in the planning of the first few volumes, so they have a value as lifetime editions (Baxter travelled out to Samoa with the first two volumes, only to find RLS had just died when he arrived).
However, the study of these volumes will also help give us a picture of Colvin’s work as an editor and how confident he was to make changes, since his attitude to the editorial role colours the whole process of production of RLS’s volumes from the Pacific period.
I have just finished transcribing (with the help of Neil Macara Brown) the early “Sketches” (1870-1) and have done a rough collation with the Swanston Edition (1911-12) – which we know was set up from the Edinburgh Edition. I did this (just a quick – or not so quick – check, using Word’s tracking changes function) as a way of checking the transcription. But it throws out a series of changes undoubtedly deriving from the Edinburgh Edition and Colvin’s editorial intervention.
This will all be checked properly when the real collation is made, but this first exercise suggest that Colvin
- always changed RLS’s <Scotch> to <Scots>
- added exclamation marks and dashes not in the MS
- changed RLS’s typical semicolons to commas (on six occasions here)
- corrected things in a way we might see as fussy: <bible> becomes <Bible>, heathen <Gods> becomes <gods>
- removed commas after long subject phrases (acceptable in more traditional, rhetorically-based punctuation)
- decided not to print the last three sentences of “A Character”
Not having the Edinburgh Edition to hand, I can’t check, but certainly in the Swanston edition the sexton in Old Greyfriars churchyard complains that the Churches have “impoverished” the country, while the MS has an underlined “_impoverised_”.
As this is the first long transcription I’ve made, I realize that the editors will have to find a way of pooling opinions on what emendations can be made to reading versions of MS transcriptions. For example, I’ve corrected spelling that would not be acceptable at the time or are the result of slips, but I’ve kept the following:
- satyrist, bye (seems a deliberate choice), saw-dust, recal (common 17-18C variant, used by Shelley in early 19C), connexion (alternative head-word spelling in OED)
- not standardized upper/lower-case variation, like satyrist-Satyrist, old Greyfriars-Old Greyfriars, as I don’t find it disturbs reading to any significant extent
- not as yet given normal capitals to: reformation, latin, scotch, bible, psalm, sunday
–though I can imagine some people would want to standardize/correct some of those.
The editors’ manual has some guidelines, but it would be useful if editors could find a way of sharing experiences so we can build up a useful list of principles and examples.