Collation and Its Misuses in Some Middle English Texts.
Edwards considers criteria for determining what constitutes a ‘variant’, addressing the potential benefits and detriments of a lemmatized organization of multiple textual witnesses, and observing the difficulty of determining whether a variant is dialectal or substantive (p. 81). He argues that the Athlone edition of PPl suffers from editorial circular reasoning, incorporating unattested readings and generally relying on ‘a series of elaborate hypotheses’ about the textual archetype and L’s ‘sense of alliterative meter’ (p. 85). Edwards also notes drawbacks in Manly and Rickert’s edition of the Canterbury Tales, which presents extensive collations that do not do justice to the value of some ‘bad’ witnesses. Such texts, he argues, may be insignificant for collation but instructive in sociocultural terms, useful ‘as a variation rather than a collection of variants’ (pp. 88–89).