The Risks of a Mammoth Edition: The Example of The Complete Letters of Henry James - Review of The Complete Letters of Henry James, 1855–1872. 2 vols. Edited by Pierre A. Walker and Greg W. Zacharias.
Date of this Version
Documentary Editing: Journal of the Association for Documentary Editing, Volume 30, Numbers 1 and 2: 2008 ISSN 0196-7134
With The Complete Letters of Henry James, general editors Pierre A. Walker and Greg W. Zacharias have undertaken such a mammoth task. In their editorial introduction to the first volume, which has been released simultaneously with the second, they explain that by the time it is finished the entire edition will fill at least 140 volumes. If the editors can maintain their two-volume-a-year pace—in itself quite ambitious—simple division tells us that it will take seventy years to finish the project. The Complete Letters of Henry James is one of those cathedral-like works whose editors will not live long enough to see the final product. They can only imagine what it will look like.