Original Research

On the recovery of an ancient text: Principles of editing, The diaries of Lady Anne Barnard

M. Lenta
Literator | Vol 18, No 1 | a528 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v18i1.528 | © 1997 M. Lenta | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 April 1997 | Published: 30 April 1997

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M. Lenta, Department of English, University of Natal, Durban, South Africa

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The unrevised and handwritten Cape diaries of Lady Anne Barnard for the years 1799 and 1800 have recently been transcribed and are now in the process of being edited. Since they are very long, and would be expensive to publish in their entirely, the question has arisen for their editors what principles of selection and emphasis should be followed in the editorial process. The diaries are private documents, intended to be read by no one but the author herself, and they are frequently non-standard in punctuation, spelling and even at times in syntax. The editors therefore face other issues, concerning their right to correct or standardise the text, which as it stands, is an illustration of the practice of a highly intelligent and experienced woman with almost no formal education - a woman who in many respects is representative of her time and class. The different kinds of interest present within the text - Cape and European history, the history of women, of slaves and of colonialism, as well as of the indigenous peoples of the Cape hinterland, may well represent alternative focuses between which the editors, in an abbreviated text, must choose, since the final decision concerning publication is likely to be an economic one. Finally the editors’ recommendations are likely to be based on the degree of interest possessed by the text in its component parts - are all its subjects equally interesting to the envisaged reader, the amateur of history of the present day?


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