Such an ambitious program required a new critical vocabulary. It seemed especially important to do away with the philological notion of “variant,” which implies owe text with alternative formulations. To make a clean break, Bellemin-Noël used the neologism “avant-texte” to designate all the documents that come before a work when it is considered as a text and when those documents and the text are considered as part of a system. This proposal has been generally and enthusiastically accepted: the term “avant-texte” has become the hallmark of the new approach and is used by geneticists of all persuasions. They use the term in somewhat different ways, some more precisely than others, but “avant-texte” always carries with it the assumption that the material of textual genetics is not a given but rather a critical construction elaborated in relation to a postulated terminal–so-called definitive–state of the work.

Contributed by Wout. View changelog.