“Texts Worth (Not) Editing”. Critical Edition as an Aesthetic Symptom of Cultural Change (Two Bulgarian Cases)
Combining perspectives of literary scholarship, textual scholarship and of studies in intermediality, I view critical editions as ethically relevant spatial artistic forms. I find some of Mikhail Bakhtin’s and of Heinrich Wölfflin’s basic aesthetic distinctions the most appropriate to employ. Exploring two sequences of critical editions of Bulgarian modernists (Penčo Slavejkov, Pejo Javorov) issued between 1910 and the early 2000s, I show that their aesthetically relevant parameters could be integrated in a history of aesthetical and cultural change while paying little regard to the scholarly ‘progress’ in understanding the edited authors. Focusing on such aspects of the 1921-1926, 1958-1959 and 2001-2003 editions of Slavejkov’s works as an edition’s peritexts, distribution of commentaries, and division into volumes, I am able to trace shifts from writer-friendly to writer-intimidating edit-ing (and back), from poetics associable with ‘Renaissance’ to one associable with ‘Baroque’ (and back), from one that invites to pre-percept virtual sculpture to one that prevents such imagination, and some subtler developments. If we agree to think in terms of a single or dominant current of cultural change, and making use of our case, we would suggest that critical editions are predominantly indicative of the cultural and aesthetic rearguard of their respective times.
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