A New Edition of the C Version
While the new Athlone C text is a massive achievement, superseding the editions of Skeat, Pearsall and Schmidt, the editors neglect to address the historicity of the manuscript evidence. R-K consider manuscript books as inert physical bearers of the text, accidental forms not engaged to any social relationship, just as the discussion of the text’s transmission is removed from any social setting. The editorial postulate of C representing an incomplete revision, based on metrical correctness, rests on a hermeneutic circle, allowing them to withdraw from editing with the same intensity as occurred in the Athlone A and B. While L’s intent might be recoverable from the record, R-K determine that the incomplete revisions of L’s literary executor should stand as the closest approximation of the poet we can achieve. Where the editors choose to intervene in substantial readings, they almost universally improve what they find. But the possibilities for historicization are truncated by a merely logical reading of the evidence.