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What is Authorial Philology?

Giulia Raboni
Paola Italia


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1 Apparatus: section of a critical edition containing variant readings.

2 Derivative apparatus: (see also ‘progressive apparatus’) an apparatus that represents the chronological chain of variants in which corrections follow a derivative chronological order, i.e., an order in which more recent readings precede the older ones, e.g., ‘reading 3 from reading 2 from reading 1’.

3 Diachronic apparatus: an apparatus that represents the dynamics of a text through time. In this kind of apparatus, parts of the text are arranged in chronological order, separated and hierarchized by numbers from the earliest to the latest phase (the base-text). Minor variants are usually represented in parentheses. This kind of apparatus preferably shows the chronological order of corrections rather than their place on the page (see also ‘photographic apparatus’).

4 Evolutionary apparatus: a graphical way to represent the corrections that have formed over time on a manuscript. This kind of apparatus represents the corrections that were made on the text after the phase that the publisher has chosen as base-text: e.g., reading 1 corr. in reading 2 corr. in reading 3 (see also ‘derivative apparatus’).

5 Explicit apparatus: an apparatus is called ‘explicit’ when it makes use of abbreviations (cf. section 2.5), rather than symbols (see ‘symbolic apparatus’) in order to represent variation. Relevant to horizontal but not vertical apparatuses.

6 Genetic apparatus: (see also ‘evolutionary apparatus’) a graphical way to represent the corrections that have formed over time on a manuscript. This kind of apparatus represents the corrections that were made on the text, before the version of the text chosen by the publisher as base-text, from the most recent to the earliest.

7 Horizontal apparatus: (also called ‘linear representation’) horizontal apparatuses are based on a clear distinction between text and apparatus. The text is located in the upper part of the page, while the apparatus is usually located immediately below it, but can be placed at the end of the book instead. Variants are collected in the apparatus one after the other. The disadvantage of the horizontal apparatus is its separation from the text, which forces readers to shift constantly between text and apparatus (which is especially an issue if the apparatus is located at the end of the book; see also ‘vertical apparatus’).

8 Photographic apparatus: in contrast to the diachronic apparatus, the photographic apparatus provides a typographic transcription of the status of a manuscript in question, paying attention to the topographical location of variants rather than the chronological stages in the text’s evolution. It gives a synchronic, rather than diachronic, representation of a text.

9 Progressive apparatus: see ‘evolutionary apparatus’ .

10 Symbolic apparatus: (see also ‘explicit apparatus’) the apparatus is called symbolic when it makes use of symbols, instead of words, to represent variation. Relevant to horizontal but not vertical apparatuses.

11 Vertical apparatus: (also called ‘column representation’) the arrangement of variants vertically, in columns. Deletions and insertions are identified through typographic markers such as italics or bold. A vertical apparatus does not need abbreviations or symbols in order to represent variation, since corrections over time are represented by the position of variants vertically in a column. The major advantage of vertical apparatuses is that they allow the reader to visually reconstruct the writing process, since text and apparatus are not divided; the disadvantage is that generally readers cannot read the text in its entirety, free from corrections (see also ‘horizontal apparatus’).

12 Apograph copy: version of a text produced by a copyist following an exemplar (known as ‘antigraph’).

13 ‘Approximation to a value’: an expression used by Gianfranco Contini to define the literary value of a text as an ever-moving, endless process of refinement, rather than as a product or achievement.

14 Author’s last will: the last known intentions of the author. It is often the favoured base-text used for the production of an edition, providing readers with a work perceived as ‘more authentic’ than editions which represent a different phase of the text’s existence (e.g., editions which incorporate changes made without the author’s permission, or which represent an earlier phase of the text’s evolution).

15 Authorial philology: the branch of philology which studies variants introduced into a text by its author, rather than introduced by copyists during the transmission of the text. These variants can be introduced both into manuscripts and print editions. Authorial philology studies the elaboration of a text through time by the authors themselves.

16 Autograph manuscript: a manuscript considered to have been written by the author, in their own hand.

17 Avantesto: in Italian authorial philology, this term refers to materials which have a direct relationship with the genesis of the text, such as the early drafts of a literary work. Note the difference with ‘avant-texte’.

18 Avant-texte: in genetic criticism, this term refers to the entire set of materials that precede the completed manuscript, including materials that do not have a direct relationship with the text, such as lists of words, of characters, maps, etc.

19 Base-text: (also called ‘copy-text’) the version of the text used as the basis for a critical edition.

20 Bédierian philology: a philological practice, born in opposition to ‘Lachmannian philology’, founded by Joseph Bédier (1864–1938) in which the editor trusts a single ‘best’ or ‘basic’ manuscript (codex optimus), privileging the individual document over the reconstruction of the text.

21 Column representation: see ‘vertical apparatus’.

22 Copy-text: see ‘base-text’.

23 Critical edition: (edizione critica) a critical edition represents the process of correction of the version selected as base-text. For this reason, such editions consider only the part of the avant-texte which has a direct relationship with the ‘product’ (that is, earlier versions of the same text rather than preparatory materials).

24 Criticism of variants: (critica delle varianti) the critical application of the data provided by authorial philology. Originated by Gianfranco Contini (1912–1990), criticism of variants is a critical methodology based on the comparison of two different phases in the genesis of a text. It asks how we interpret corrected texts and considers ways of seeing them as dynamic works.

25 Critique génétique: a method of analysing literary and/or artistic work, theorised in the 1970s, in France, that aims to study the genesis and the process of creation of the text before the definitive state.

26 Diacritical marks: symbols such as angled brackets or asterisks used to signal corrections and annotations added by the editor.

27 Digital edition: enabled by information technology, these editions use the possibilities of digital media to allow for multiple different representations of variants.

28 Ductus: the way and the speed with which text has been written on the paper.

29 Ecdotics: (ecdotica) the science that deals with the problems related to the editing of texts.

30 Genetic edition: (edition génétique) scholarly edition of a text according to critique génétique methods, representing all the avant-textes, from initial notes to late corrections on printed proofs. It makes no distinction between these two different types of avant-texte and it does not subordinate one type to the other.

31 Hyper-textual editions: in hyper-textual editions, the ‘movements’ of the text can be visually represented through specific uses of space and colour, thus offering a representation of a text in fieri.

32 Idiograph: a manuscript or an edition considered to have been written or arranged under the supervision of the author.

33 Invariant: invariant readings are readings that do not change across different versions of a text.

34 Lachmannian philology: (also called ‘stemmatic philology’ or ‘genealogical method’) the branch of philology founded by Karl Lachmann (1793–1851), which consists of a method aimed at reconstructing the original text by representing the relationships between the extant witnesses to a text (stemma codicum) on the basis of shared readings. This stemma is ultimately used to establish an archetypal / ‘original’ version of the text, as close as possible to what the author intended (see also ‘Bédierian philology’).

35 Linear representation: see ‘horizontal apparatus’

36 Marginalia: metatextual notes made by the author. In authorial philology editions, the marginalia are not collected in the apparatus, since they do not share the same status and value of the variants.

37 Philology of the copy: the branch of philology which studies the variants introduced into a text during textual transmission by copyists (see also ‘Lachmannian philology’ and ‘Bédierian philology’).

38 Scartafacci: (brouillons) literally, a ‘scratchpad’ or notebook. The term originates from Benedetto Croce’s reductive definition of Gianfranco Contini’s ‘criticism of variants’. As a general noun it refers to the rough drafts of a text.

39 Textual Bibliography: a discipline which analyses the technical processes involved in the production of a printed book, evaluating their impact on the evolution of the text itself.

40Usus scribendi: refers to the scribal practice — the graphical and phonetical usage of a specific author or copyist.

41 Varia lectio: in authorial philology applied to the works of Giacomo Leopardi, it refers to textual variants and marginalia added by the author in his original copies.

42 Variant: the adjustments and corrections made to the text through time, even across different witnesses; they may have been introduced by the authors or others during the transmission of the text (see also ‘genetic criticism’, ‘philology of copy’ and ‘invariant’).

43 Alternative variant: variants that the author has written in the text without deleting the previous text, showing that he has not decided whether to consider the variant as definitive or not.

44 Authorial variant: variants produced by the author (rather than by copyists or editors). These include changes made by the author both in unpublished versions of the text, and in printed copies.

45 Immediate variant: corrections made at the time of the writing of the text, typically on the same line as the rest of the writing, or interlinear if implicated (see also ‘implicated variant’ and ‘late/ later variant’).

46 Implicated variant: corrections resulting as a consequence of contextual changes in a text (e.g., the substitution of a singular noun with a plural as the grammatical subject of a sentence will necessarily cause any verb connected to it to change accordingly).

47 Late/Later variant: variants added after writing (part of) the text, during its revision (see also ‘immediate variant’).

48 Versioning: a system named by Donald Reiman (1987) that allows readers to compare multiple versions of the same text.

49 Witness: every handwritten manuscript, whether autograph or not, containing the text to be edited.


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