text (sign)

Let us recapitulate our semiotic grounding of the editorial text: Text, as a complex sign, as an inseparable relation of signifiant and signifié (Saussure), or as a dynamic structural relationship of sign carrier, interpreter, and sign object (Peirce), is always in fluid motion, and, from the point of view of the interpreting recipient, is never completely fixable. This is true in the field of editing as well as in all other areas in which literary texts are the object of analysis. The closed text, printed in isolation, is a state lifted out of a virtually infinite process, an establishment based on a specific interpretation (by the editor or also, as we shall still see, by the author) in an act which is necessary but always unsatisfactory. Especially in the case of the textual version, established or given prominence by the editor, the “text matrix” printed in the edition, despite the philologist’s efforts toward objectivity, is inevitably shaped by a given interpretation. Just for this reason the editor does well to recapture the variability of the text in the edition whenever possible, despite the necessary fixation. An author’s labor on a work may itself be considered as the articulation of the dynamic relationship between text carrier and meaning. The process of textual formation visible in the corrections and revisions of variant textual versions would then be interpretable as the precipitation of a textual meaning in constant flux.

(Martens 1995, 216)

Contributed by Caroline. View changelog.