In general outline, a scholarly edition is the presentation of a text – literary, historical, philosophical, juridical – or of a work (mainly, a work of literature) in its often enough several texts, through the agency of an editor in lieu of the author of the text, or work. We see the editor as ‘agency’, functionary and guardian of the lifeline between work (or text) and author.[…] The base line of my understanding of the scholarly edition is that it is a web of discourses. These discourses are interrelated and of equal standing. They are constituted, as discourses, by the editor, or team of editors, who provide as well as guarantee the edition’s coherence and intellectual focus. With their name or names, too, the editor or editors publicly assume responsibility for the construct of the edition as a whole.
Not an overly spectacular definition, perhaps. Yet looked at closely, it may be seen to turn the traditional sense of editions on its head by making not author and text, but the editor pivotal to an edition.