Date of this Version
Documentary Editing, Volume 21, Number 3, September 1999.
ISSN 2476-1796 (electronic); ISSN 2167-1451 (print)
But before telling about this work, I shall describe the structure of the project, which is collaborative in its conception and design. To ensure high quality and productivity, we have concentrated textual editing at the University of Nebraska. My colleague in the English Department, Charles Mignon, has been with the project from its beginning, and Fred Link, former chair of the English Department and director of University of Nebraska Press, joined the project shortly before he retired and has continued with it as a professor emeritus. Both brought editorial expertise to the project, one editing Edward Taylor, the other Restoration playwrights; both have become expert on editing Cather in the course of this project. Dr. Kari Ronning, assistant editor, serves at the managerial heart of the project, assisting editors in various capacities and becoming a Cather scholar herself in the process. She served as volume editor of Obscure Destinies. Cather scholars, often located at other universities, have served as volume editors: David Stouck at Simon Fraser; John Murphy at Brigham Young, and Ann Romines at George Washington, for example.
One of the great contributions of a scholarly edition is that the project serves as a magnet for materials relevant to its author, and ours is no exception. The assumption that there were no manuscripts or typescripts of Cather's texts resulted from Cather's request that all manuscripts be destroyed; her publisher Alfred A. Knopf's verification of that request and description of returning manuscripts, typescripts, and proofs to Cather for that purpose; and her companion Edith Lewis's account of helping Cather destroy pre-publication forms. Before we began work on the edition, Cather scholar Bernice Slote expressed the wisdom of the time when she wrote that "there are unfortunately no manuscripts." The widespread recognition of Cather's stature in the past two decades has heightened awareness of the importance of pre-publication forms to scholarship on her. Philip Gerber ended his 1995 survey of the future of Cather studies with the lament that "unless major caches of Cather manuscript materials should come to light ... the important analysis of Cather's working methods and revision practices will languish. "