A great deal of twentieth-century editing — and, in fact, editing of centuries before —as G. Thomas Tanselle notes, was based on finding an authoritative text based on “final intentions” (Tanselle 1995: 15–16). Ordinarily editors emphasized the intentions of the “author” (a contested term in recent decades) and neglected a range of other possible collaborators including friends, proofreaders, editors, and compositors, among others. A concern with final intentions makes sense at one level: the final version of a work is often stronger — more fully developed, more carefully considered, more precisely phrased — than an early or intermediate draft of it. But for poets, novelists, and dramatists whose work may span decades, there is real question about the wisdom of relying on last choices. Are people at their sharpest, most daring, and most experimental at the end of life when energies (and sometimes clarity) fade and other signs of age begin to show? Further, the final version of a text is often even more mediated by the concerns of editors and censors than are earlier versions, and the ability of anyone to discern what a writer might have hoped for, absent these social pressures, is open to question.

(Price 2007, 345)

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