With Reference to Leah S. Marcus
Textual scholarship is basically the study of manuscripts or any printed work in order to find the original form of a text. It is more than just criticism because it covers a wide range of ‘describing’, ‘discovering’, ‘transcribing’, ‘editing’, ‘glossing’, ‘annotating’ and ‘commenting’ on texts. One is said to be a textual scholar only when he/she acquire knowledge after reading a literary piece. Moreover, textual scholarship is an everyday practice, though informally by many people. Anybody who has detected a misprint in a book is a textual critic.
The very aim of textual scholarship is to verify all the evidences of authorship and the changes that took place in the course of editing and printing. Another aim of textual scholarship is to verify if those changes was as a result of errors, revision, censorship or even editorial intervention. And finally to investigate the texts. Textual scholars attempt to find why texts remain the way they are. In order to achieve this, textual scholars go back to the sources of the text.
Sources of text could be,
Author’s intention: E.g. Robert Browning wrote his works and the publisher says that there are lots of spelling errors thus they denied the readers the ability to see and read the original text of the writer.
Collaborative intention: i.e. between the author and the editors. Authors’ editors do both linguistics editing and substantive editing (content). They improve format, structure, grammar, style, flow and even accuracy.
Editorial Interventions: Editorial intervention is done by editors mostly to suit their publishing taste. For example, John Donne, a Catholic Priest wrote Holy Sonnet and love poetry. Later he burnt all his manuscript thus the possibility that what we read as Donne’s works might not be the original or preplanned work. The effect of this editorial intervention is that it tamper with the original meaning. The works of ee cummings are better understood the way he intended it to be since he (cummings) violated all the rules of punctuation.
HISTORY OF TEXTUAL SCHOLARSHIP
The history of textual scholarship will be considered in the following centuries;
560 - 527 BCE
Textual scholarship within this period are known for their rivalry between early libraries of Alexandria and Pergamum.
14th CENTURY: RENAISSANCE
Textual scholarship within this period are known for their rediscovery of numerous texts from the Greek and Roman and the compilation of major religious texts like the Hebrew; Christian Bibles, and to some extent the Qur’an was questionable by this early textual scholars. For example, they believe that Erasmus who did so much to establish the text of the Greek Bible on humanistic philological principles might have forged at least one document.
17th – 18th CENTURY:
Textual scholarship gradually became regularized.
19th – 20th CENTURY:
Textual scholarship within this period underwent radical change in The new bibliography.
In summation, textual scholars tends to question literary works that are published posthumously hence wants to know the original intention of the writer in relation with the published text (Editorial intervention).