The Kane-Donaldson Edition of Piers Plowman: Eclecticism’s Ultima Thule.
Kane and Donaldson’s basic framework of assumptions regarding MS evidence was sometimes counter-intuitive (e.g., AC agreements vs. B); their edition is an erratic combination of sheer brilliance and myopia insofar as they have no interest in the evidence that implicated L’s actual publication process. They ignored factors that pointed to indeterminacy, such as fluctuating authorial intentions or creative interactions with scribes. In his own work on the textual history, Adams’s study of small phrasal contaminations confirmed his sense that the publication order of the versions was B>C>A. He and the other editors of the PPl Electronic Archive have learned how early in the transmission process the best surviving MSS of B (L, M, R) must be dated, and how carefully controlled their earliest transmission was. In C, L’s art seems less important; if one accepts the Athlone hypothesis, C ‘seems a curiously acquiescent testament to the helpless rage he must have felt’. The editors of the PPl Electronic Archive have noted the frequent agreements of spellings and inflections between MSS L, R, and M, often against W, which had led them to select as their copy-text MS L, which will preserve more authorial usage than does Kane and Donaldson’s copy-text, MS W.