If a scholarly edition hitherto only offered “readings” in order to give the reader the possibility of verifying textual-critical decisions, now the editor had the task of representing “variants” in order to document the development and change of a work. What was a “text” in this new editorial situation? Could one still hold on to the customary pretheoretical usage, or must one at this point depart from the everyday understanding of the word and strive for a sharper, theoretically grounded editorial concept? The discussion is controversial, and two main positions confront one another in the current debate: (1) For one group, “text” is understood as a unified and closed linguistic object and thereby something fixed. According to this notion, “variants,” unlike readings, do not belong to the text but, as deviations from it, are considered part of a further text of the same work. (2) For the other group, “text” is understood as a complex of all the versions and deviations belonging to a work. Precisely this second notion underlies the concept of “textual versions” (= differing versions of one text) as current also outside of editorial theory: it defines variants not as constituting different texts, but different version of a text. The revision process–insofar as it is documented in the received records–is hence incorporated, and a dynamic component is thus essential to this group’s conceptualization of text.

(Martens 1995, 210)

Contributed by Wout. View changelog.