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date: 14 October 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Despite recent claims that serious poetic revision only started during the modernist period, most Romantic-period manuscripts yield evidence of sustained and sometimes obsessive revision, which could take place over a matter of hours, days, or years. This chapter surveys different editorial approaches to authorial revision and the vexed question of whether we should base our reading texts on the ‘first finished’ version or the author’s last ever set of revisions—the question which has haunted William Wordsworth’s editors for decades. After a brief discussion of the advantages of combining genetic criticism of the manuscript page with an awareness of biographical, social, and literary contexts, the chapter turns to public-domain manuscripts to analyse three examples of manuscript revision of poetry by Wordsworth, Keats, and Shelley.

Keywords: artistic development, authorial intertextuality, collaboration, creativity, editing, genetic criticism, manuscripts, textual primitivism

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