Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 September 2012
In the revised version of the ‘General Introduction’ to the Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels (EEWN) the editor-in-chief, David Hewitt, contemplates what it has achieved and what it has taught us about Scott. He comments:
A surprising amount of what was once thought loose or unidiomatic has turned out to be textual corruption. Many words which were changed as the holograph texts were converted into print have been recognised as dialectical, period or technical terms wholly appropriate to their literary context. The mistakes in foreign languages, in Latin, and in Gaelic found in the early printed texts are usually not in the manuscripts, and so clear is this manuscript evidence that one may safely conclude that Friar Tuck's Latin in Ivanhoe is deliberately full of errors. The restoration of Scott's own shaping and punctuating of speech has often enhanced the rhetorical effectiveness of dialogue … The Historical and Explanatory Notes reveal an intellectual command of enormously diverse materials, and an equally imaginative capacity to synthesise them. Editing the texts has revolutionised the editors' understanding and appreciation of Scott, and will ultimately generate a much wider recognition of his quite extraordinary achievement.
Here Hewitt draws attention to the fact that the research conducted by the Edinburgh Edition team has revealed both a linguistic richness and a linguistic diversity within Scott's fiction that was obfuscated by earlier editions. Much of this has been restored by the Edinburgh Edition and this process has revealed an author who employs a range of vocabulary that has never before been apparent.
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