Date of this Version
Newsletter of the Association for Documentary Editing, Volume 4, Number 3, September 1982. ISSN 0196-7134
The recent appearance from Princeton University Press of the first volume (1837-1844) of Thoreau's massive Journal is a signal event for scholars of American literature, and any who doubt the fact need only read the editors' "General Introduction" (intended as a prefatory statement to the entire publication project) to learn why. The tale told therein of Thoreau's friends' and previous editors' conscious and unconscious alterations of his text recalls the ill treatment afforded another classic American writer at the hands of her friends and editors. Mabel Loomis Todd, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, and Martha Dickinson Bianchi perhaps did Emily Dickinson's readers a greater disservice because apart from their transcriptions of her poetry the public knew no other of her work, but H. G. O. Blake, Francis H. Allen, and Bradford Torrey committed a comparable injustice by not allowing admirers of Walden and A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers a view of what a "complete" text of the journal vividly reveals: a writer in his workshop, struggling to order and make beauty from his raw materials.