by Quimby Melton
Three terms help situate the hypertextual, twenty-first century "all text" concept into a traditional textual editing context:
- contamination or conflation, which occurs when "a scribe or typesetter produces a copy of a text consulting two or more previous copies, or exemplars";
- documentary text/edition or a diplomatic text/edition, which may be defined as texts/editions that present, "without emendation, the text of a particular document" (usually accompanied by "an apparatus," such as this, "that generally includes a description of the document transcribed, the basis for its selection, the principles of transcription employed, and lists of variant readings found in other documents");
- eclectic text, which is "a text constructed by selecting readings from several texts." 1
It isn't difficult, though, to see how the all text concept both adopts these ideas and respectfully and appropriately diverges from them. The all text may certainly be said to be "conflated" or "contaminated" in the sense above as it is composed of three different versions of the same story fused into one text. It is also "documentary"/"diplomatic" in the sense that it attempts to reproduce faithfully three different versions of "Banal Story" at once. (Perhaps, the need for and presence of this apparatus bolsters this claim as well.) For the sake of reproducing the three versions of the story in this way, though, many emendations have been made and necessary peculiarities have been added to the text. The all text, then, is not a fully diplomatic/documentary edition though paradoxically in some ways it clearly strives to be. Finally, like the idea that the all text is essentially a conflated/contaminated text, this version of "Banal Story" most certainly can be read as an "eclectic" text both in the sense above and in the more general sense of the word. The editor can hope, though, that all larger (pejorative) senses of the term "contamination" will be absent from the reader's mind.
Continuing on the documentary/diplomatic nature of the all text, though, I suppose the all text concept does imply a striving toward exact representation of original source documents. Indeed, this was my way of thinking when I began this project. However, exact representation and broad distribution of such material is made possible in the age of the WWW via such media as electronic scans and digital photography. In fact, on the all text page this hypermedia critical edition makes use of the former in order to better disseminate the manuscript version and the original two publication versions of "Banal Story." Thus, rather than simply a means of reproducing different (un)published versions of a given text, the all text stands as more of a theoretical inquiry into the possibilities for textual editing on the WWW and a proposition of a new method of presenting materials on the WWW. Because of this, there are some things I have done with the all text in the spirit of faithful presentation of the original source materials and some things I have not.
For example, I have not tried to represent the editorial marks (made by either Jane Heap, Margaret Anderson, or some other Little Review editor) on the "Banal Story" manuscript other than the deleted lines. Those marks that I've omitted can be seen on the .pdf file of the manuscript, and they include notes about what font face and size to use when publishing the story and another peculiar issue: in his manuscript, Hemingway clearly wrote "bull"; but even so, this word has been stricken out only to have the word "bull" written above the cancellation. The only conclusion I've come to with regards to this is that there might be some discretion as to Hemingway's idiosyncratic cursive "b" versus the more properly formed cursive "b" that has been corrected by one of the Little Review editors. Furthermore, I've ignored certain other textual presentation issues. First, the five line letter "S" that begins the story as published in the Little Review is absent from the all text.I've also made no attempt to maintain the margins and textual layout/font face standards of the three versions of the story: all font conventions and layout issues, therefore, are peculiar to the all text (as explained in the key at the top of the all text page); and following typical hypertextual/WWW protocol, paragraph breaks are presented as line breaks rather than as initial line indentations. In the all text, I have also not included the later publications of "Banal Story" in the major collections of Hemingway's short fiction:
- The Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1953);
- The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway: Finca Vigía Edition (New York: Scribner, 1987);
- and its derivative The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway (New York: Scribner, 1998).
Of course, this also means I've not included the version of the story as it appears in the reprint edition of Men without Women (New York: Scribner, 1997) or the various other cloned editions of Hemingway's short fiction such as the Scribner/Book-of-the-Month Club edition of 1993 (which followed the Finca Vigía Edition). The reason for this is simple: all editions of the story printed after the publication of Men Without Women in 1927 follow the Men without Women version of the story; and since I've not maintained the textual layout conventions of each published version (plus the one manuscript version), using only the Men without Women version of the story in the all text seems sufficient.
I have, though, presented the differences in the line "Have tramps codes of conduct? Send your mind adventuring" in paragraph(s) 17/18 of the "Banal Story" all text in order to show the difference between the manuscript and Little Review versions and the Men without Women version of the story (likely heavily influenced by Hemingway's editor Malcom Cowley). I've also maintained omissions found in the different versions of the story, namely, the period after the line "... the things they could only do sometimes" in paragraph 21 of the "Banal Story" all text and the name "Ernest Hemingway" that appears in majuscule letters in the manuscript and Little Review version of the story but not in the Men without Women version (for obvious reasons, of course). As the key and textual conventions suggest, then, the reader of the all text sees the textual elements common to all version of the story with the alterations made distinct. Hopefully, this has the effect of decentering/depriviledging any one version of the story in the interest of forming a new whole composed of all versions of the story. The all text, then, seeks to be that new whole composed of the story in its entirety with the three versions of "Banal Story" forming one unified text.
In fact, hypertext/media seemed the ideal forum for this critical edition. Not only would no publisher print a critical edition of just one very short story, it's questionable whether or not a publisher would (be able to) print using color codes: textual keys, yes, but not the sorts of color complexities that the all text is able to enjoy. These color codes make the visual art dynamic of the story (i.e., the fragmented textual disunity of The Forum section vs. the terse unity of the Maera, for example) stand out, further conflating the boundaries of textual art and visual art. Thus, it seems that the WWW might just offer the solution William Faulkner sought for The Sound and the Fury:
I wish publishing was advanced enough to use colored ink for [each time-transference in The Sound and the Fury], as I argued with you and Hal in the speak-easy that day. ... [Italicization] presents a most dull and poorly articulated picture to my eye. ... I'll just have to save the idea until publishing grows up to it. 2
Certainly, the availability of creative color patterns and effects (and even programs, applets, and other dynamic experiences) makes the all text a richer visual product as well as a richer textual product than a standard printed critical edition. Whether or not this is due to technology, market-concerns, lack of imagination, or a combination of all three is debatable.
All my ideas about the all text were not incorporated, but listing them might prove useful to those who might seek to create their own all texts. For example, I considered interlineating the critical texts and my notes and essay as a method of making a fully-formed all text that conflates the literature, criticism, and explanatory notes into one document. I decided this would be unwieldy, impractical, and obtrusive to the reader as I imagined doing it. The possibility remains, though, and I may create such an all text in the future as a more "experimental" supplement to this hypermedia critical edition. Also, since the western reader reads left to right, I've (unintentionally) privileged a chronological development of the story. Using a scripting language, one could create some sort of circular pattern (rotating perhaps) that would prevent the editor or reader from privileging any externally imposed order on the versions of the story. The possibilities for creating unique all texts infused with the multiple versions of a given text and the critical constellations that form around such texts is vast and unexplored indeed. While quite difficult and time-consuming, one can imagine an all text of works such a Joyce's Ulysses, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Nietzsche's Will to Power that have radically complex composition histories and oceans of criticism attached to them. (Of course, there are also the thirty-nine alternate endings that exist for A Farewell to Arms ... ) I chose Hemingway's "Banal Story" for the reason that it is a manageable resource for setting out the all text concept and suggesting the possibilities that exist for extending this concept into larger and more canonical works. The "Banal Story" all text, therefore, is an introductory tidbit in the world of possibility that exists for the all text and the larger concept of the hypermedia critical edition.
In creating such all texts, the hypermedia editor acts much as Hemingway does in "Banal Story": as arranger and assemblagist. The practice brings to the forefront contemporary concepts of decentered authors and the New Bibliography wherein the emphasis rests on collaboration and the sociology of textual editing and textual creation. As Jerome McGann, the dean of humanities computing and New Bibliography, suggests, the all text like all modern conceptions of textual creation must include, or at least consider, "the dynamic social relations which always exist in literary production." 3 Within this model, composition and editing come to be seen as collaborative; and Romantic notions about defined roles of editor, publisher, and blur into "laced networks" of roles and textual history. 4 The WWW medium only blurs these distinctions further as one individual can act in all capacities or a number of individuals can move in and out of the roles, filling all or fewer of them at different times/stages of development. In this sense, the act of all text creation is an act of conflating the authority issue: the copy text and base text becomes the all text that contains all efforts, all authority, all personnel, and all versions of a given text. Furthermore, author, editor, publisher -- these roles are ambiguously separated at best and frequently, as is the case with this hypermedia critical edition, not separate at all.
Finally, it is my hope that the hypermedia critical edition of Ernest Hemingway's "Banal Story" and the all text in particular further integrates the WWW and new media in general into the academy (and that it helps extend that academy beyond the campus). McGann's powerful charge is at the heart of this sentiment and at the very heart of this project as a whole:
... the general field of humanities education and scholarship will not take the use of digital technology seriously until one demonstrates how its tools improve the ways we explore and explain aesthetic works — until, that is, they expand our interpretational procedures. ... It is a model that we propose to build in a new kind of textual environment—a digital one. ... We propose to build it in the hope that it may stimulate others to develop and build more adequate critical tools. 5
- I've taken these definitions from William Proctor Williams and Craig S. Abbott, An Introduction to Bibliographical and Textual Studies (New York: MLA, 1999), 141, 144, and 145, respectively. ↩
- William Faulkner, "To Ben Wasson," Early Summer 1929 (In The Sound and the Fury: Norton Critical Edition, 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 1994), 221. Faulkner, who was a visual artist as well as a writer, also struggles with this italics issue in a fragmented later letter to Wasson (221-22). Wasson, who also tried his hand at the italics -- tinkering that lead to a great deal of impassioned chiding from Faulkner (225) -- has his own memory of the conversation and quotes Faulkner as follows: "If I could only get it printed the way it ought to be with different color types for the different times in Benjy's section recording the flow of events for him, it would make it simpler probably. I don't reckon, though, it'll ever be printed that way, and this'll have to be the best, with the italics indicating the changes of events." (222-23) ↩
- Jerome McGann, A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1983), 81. ↩
- Jerome McGann, The Textual Condition (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1991), 13. ↩
- Jerome McGann, Radiant Textuality: Literature After the World Wide Web (New York: Palgrave/Macmillan, 2001), xii. ↩