Blind with vile Types, with nightly sweats of brain
Worn pale, my labours long advanced thy reign.
---- 1736 Marginalia, page 96

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A beginning


This paper is a Masters Essay that I submitted at Columbia University in 1983. I began the research when I first entered the Master’s program at Columbia in 1958. I abandoned the project when I left graduate school to enter the business world. When I decided in the early 1980's to leave business and teach high school mathematics, the quickest way to reach the highest salary level was to revive and complete my MA in English Literature. Fortunately, my topic was still available, and I was able to complete the Essay and earn the degree.

At the heart of my paper are my own transcriptions of marginalia made for Pope by Jonathan Richardson in two editions of The Dunciad. At the time, these marginalia had not been published in full by anyone. The original purpose of the paper was to present the marginalia in an organized fashion. As I proceeded with the task, I concluded that it was possible to establish, passage by passage, an earliest text. The final form of the paper was a presentation of an early text, with an indication of where the readings can be found.
Although my advisor had praise for my paper and suggested I seek to publish, I did not do so for a number of reasons. Chief, of course, was that I was not pursuing an academic career in English literature. Then, in 1984, came the publication of Maynard Mack’s The Last and Greatest Art, which included Mack’s own transcriptions of the marginalia which are the subject of my paper. In 1991, in Pope’s DUNCIAD of 1728, David L. Vander Meulen published a facsimile of one of the two volumes on which my paper is based. Meanwhile my own career as a high school teacher was occupying my attention.

When I decided to publish myself, on the web, I had to decide whether to take subsequent scholarship into account. I first concluded that the best course was to present the paper in its original form. The text here was generated by scanning the original paper, and then reformatting to take advantage of the possibilities offered by word processing. I have taken the opportunity to correct some typographical errors that exist in the copy of the paper on file at Columbia. The principal error is that an entire page was omitted in the Textual Commentary section. I have also converted the endnotes to citations in MLA style.

After much debate internal, I have decided to engage with both Mack and Vandermeulen in footnotes to my original paper.

2 August 2005

I spent two days Duncing (that is, reassembling my own Broglio papers, and it has paid off!
In checking two of my cruxes against Mack’s transcription, I have found for one that I disagree with his reading and for the other that he left it out altogether. Those two facts alone have convinced me that I really need to grapple with Mack’s transcriptions, and by extension with Vander Meulen’s comments on the marginalia.

Also, the effort of preparing the text of my paper for publication has caused me to rethink the organization of the paper. In the earlier versions of the paper, I attempted to deal, passage by passage, with Pope’s successive revisions, according to the record as preserved in the marginalia, and the various published texts as given in TE V. I had to pare down the scope of the paper to make a manageable Master’s Essay. The first thing to go was any attempt to talk systematically about the successive published texts. In the final version of the paper, I presented what I concluded was the earliest surviving text (passage by passage) along with all of the pre-publication changes preserved in the marginalia. The simple act of reading this text in the course of copy-editing has persuaded me that my presentation is nowhere near clear enough.

Following a lead in Vander Meulen (reference) I have concluded that I should try revising the presentation and present the ur-First Broglio and the ur-Second Broglio, or alternatively, the final First Broglio and the final Second Broglio.

The whole thing strikes me as a really duncical enterprise, but there it is.

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About Me

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New York, United States
I'm a retired math teacher with a keen interest in English Literature. I have been active at my local Episcopal church for more than 50 years. My current project is to complete a history of St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Manhattanville, which will have its 200th anniversary in 2023. I'm also working on a family history for my first and second cousins and I hope to publish on the web a version of my Masters Essay on The Dunciad.