Revision Log

John Bryant

In keeping with best-practice protocols for digital editing and in making good use of the digital medium, we will revise Herman Melville’s Typee: A Fluid-Text Edition when the need for correction or revision arises. Users are urged to submit suggested changes, and to inspect the Revision Log for past changes.

July 2009

In April 2009, the Modern Language Association’s Committee on Scholarly Editions awarded its seal of approval to Herman Melville’s Typee: A Fluid-Text Edition, the second electronic edition to receive such recognition. Subsequently, in consultation with Rotunda’s David Sewell, the editor John Bryant made several changes to the edition that were suggested pursuant to the MLA CSE vetting process. Where possible, revised text has been designated “[rev. 2009].”

The principal features of the 2009 revisions are the addition of three new paragraphs explaining the relationship among the manuscript and subsequent British and two American edition print documents; the change in diplomatic transcription readings of “striking” to “stripling” and “their” to “these”; the mending of a typo (“rise”) in the transcription; and the inclusion of first American edition readings in the revision sites and narratives for “luxurious” and “inefficacy.” The following lists all changes.


3. Writing Typee

At the end of section “The Growth of Typee: Stages of Composition,” insert three new paragraphs.


P01, line 11

Transcription and all base versions
Change striking to stripling
RevSite 10e4, Sequence, l. 1
Change striking to stripling
RevSite 10e4, Narrative, Before Sentence 1
Insert The manuscript word eventually deleted and not appearing in the British edition appears to be “striking” and was printed as such in the initial (2006) version of the present edition. However, Hershel Parker reads the word as “stripling,” and a search of “-ling” endings and other appearances of “striking” in the edition supports that reading. The word was changed to “stripling” in 2009.
In Sentence 1 (twice)
Change striking to stripling and delete somewhat
After Sentence 1
Insert The Oxford English Dictionary defines “stripling” as “A youth, one just passing from boyhood to manhood.”
In Sentence 2
Change “striking” boys to pubescent “stripling” boys

P02, l. 16

Change rise to rose

P02, l. 29

Change their to these
Revision Site 10ms26-27, Sequence, l. 1
Change their to these
Revision Site 10ms26-27, Narrative, para 2, sentences 2 & 3
Change their to these
Sentence 4
Delete Although it is not clear what the antecedent of “their” is, whether it refers to the “several other” roads or to the islanders,
Sentence 5 (twice)
Change their to these

P02, l. 37

Revision Site 10ms31e25, Sequence, l. 1

Add around after vegetation

Add new step 3. luxurious vegetation around [A and AR]

Revision Site 10ms31e25, Narrative

Close up line space after step 1 and insert Probably before In

After step 2 insert However, in the American and American Revised editions, the word appears as “luxurious” [3]. An American editor or printer might have made the change. A remote possibility is that Gansevoort made the change during his cursory proofreading of the English proofs of Typee that he had received and dashed off on the same day to be re-set in New York. If so, he may have acted on his brother’s directive mailed to him earlier in the month, or on his own initiative. In either case, and given the penciled dot in manuscript mentioned in step 2, “luxurious” may not necessarily be a correction but along with “luxuriant” an “oscillating variant.”

P19, l. 31

Transcription and all base versions
Change li?eral to liberal
RevSite 11e181, Sequence, l. 1
Change li?eral to liberal
RevSite 11e181, Narrative

Sentences 3 & 5: change li?eral to liberal

Sentence 3: change has been to was

Sentence 4: change may have to probably and change li?erally to liberally

Sentence 5: Change at the sibling site to there and change this second to that second

Sentences 5–6: Delete should have been deleted and what follows, then replace with exists now in print as a confusing reference without an antecedent. [rev. 2009]

P20, l. 14

Transcription and all base versions
Change li?erally to liberally
RevSite 11ms142e191, Sequence, l. 4
Change li?erally to liberally
RevSite 11ms142e191, Sequence, lines 2 & 3
Change 2 to 2A and 3 to 2B then renumber starting with 4 in the sequence and narrative
RevSite 11ms142e191, Narrative

Change ALL li?eral OR li?erally to liberal OR liberally

Retain paragraph 1, with these revisions to the last sentence: Change as before.” to as before” [3]. Add new last line The phrase “as before” refers to the earlier instance of the L-word (see RS11e181).

Replace the rest of the revision narrative with seven new paragraphs that replace the old following paragraphs:

As with the first iteration of Melville’s L- Word (i.e., “li?eral”; see RS11e181), the actual word written is not readily deciphered. It is either “literally” or “liberally.” The problem with the inscription of this word at both sites is that given HM’s general habit of not crossing t’s in internal te combinations, his te combinations look like be. It is therefore difficult to determine (especially with the naked eye) whether he intended at either site to write “literal(ly)” or “liberal(ly).” Since the two words are virtual antonyms, and since it is important to know at this point in the development of Tommo’s character whether he treats the Polynesian language (and their culture) with anthropological objectivity (literally) or Western subjectivity (liberally), the determination of this word is crucial. For instance, HM’s use of the phrase “as before” in the present site links this translation episode with RS11e181 by stressing the continuing process of “interpretation” he must perform. This comic parallelism and the initial invoking of the Queen’s English might argue for the use of “liberally interpreted” as a derogation. (That is, Polynesian language is so primitive, it requires a loose or liberal treatment.) But in dropping the reference to Victoria, HM removes a significant cultural symbol—indeed an icon of British colonialism—that intimates the inferiority of the Polynesian language; and that revision might argue for deciphering the word as the more culturally respectful “literally interpreted.” Interestingly enough, the “interpretation” HM actually provides in his translations at both sites wavers between the liberal and literal: it is literal, for example, when he uses the simplest of English denotations to translate “nue nue wai” (see RS11ms141) as “plenty of water”; but liberal when “Happa keekeeno” is rendered as “Terrible fellows those Haapaas” instead of something like the literal “Happaas bad.” The fact that HM shifts back and forth between the literal and liberal makes his textually indeterminate L- Word all the more difficult to determine contextually.

Changes in the phrase “li?erally interpreted as before,” occurring as early as the fair-copy stage, present two textual problems. The first relates again to HM’s L- Word itself. Magnified inspection of MS text and a comparison with other similar words (like “obliterate”) reveal that HM’s inscription here is almost certainly “liberally.” How then, was it transformed into “literally” in the English edition? We might speculate that HM intentionally revised to “literally” sometime in his fair-copy stage. However, chances are that whoever copied HM’s poorly written word “liberally” misread it as “literally” and mistranscribed it in the fair-copy stage in that form. It is even possible that in copying his own words, HM himself misread his handwriting, and forgetting his original word, transcribed the other. (Stranger things have happened.) Whatever the misadventures of copying on to the fair copy, the mistranscribed L- Word “literally” was then “correctly” put into print. Another possibility is that the word was transcribed correctly into fair copy, and misread by the printer for the English edition. The upshot of all this is that HM’s MS word, “liberally,” was printed in the English edition as “literally” [4], and the first American edition followed suit [5]. However, the problem intensified when in Fall 1846, the American edition was supplanted by the heavily expurgated American Revised edition, in which the word “literally” was changed to “liberally” [6]. Since HM had a hand in revising this edition, it is likely that he made this change himself. From this point on and throughout the 19th century, the English and the American Revised editions of Typee were distributed equally, but generally on their separate sides of the Atlantic. Therefore, putting aside HM’s intentions and the various scenarios of mis-transcription and printing, the important textual and cultural fact about HM’s L- Word remains: British and American readers read significantly different versions of the novel, one with “literally interpreted” the other with “liberally interpreted.” Complicating the problem even further is that in 1892, HM’s literary executor Arthur Stedman prepared a new American edition of Typee based on the English edition text, and therefore adopted the “literally” reading [7]. This edition served new generations of readers well into the twentieth century, and probably tipped the scales in favor of “literally” as the word most often read at this particular site. A final complication is that the now standard 1968 NN critical edition of Typee, which conflates English and American texts and adopts “liberally,” has reversed the trend making “liberally” the accepted reading. HM’s L- Word is not a mere typo, and its history, both textual and cultural, makes it one of literature’s more engaging fluid texts.

A second textual problem at this site concerns the orphan phrase “as before.” As noted in RN11e181, the deletion of the L- Word at that site makes the phrase “as before” at the present site unnecessary. Why was it not removed? Since the generally eagle-eyed HM usually caught problems like this in both MS and his fair-copy revisions, it may be argued that an editor actually imposed the revision at the first L-Word site, but in removing “li?eral interpretation” there, that editor neglected to remove “as before” here. Since HM did not supervise page proofs, he would not have been able to catch and remove the unneeded “as before.” But this begs the question: If eagle-eyed HM did not have the chance to catch the error in the English edition, how is it that eagle-eyed HM failed to see and remove the unnecessary “as before” when he caught “literally” and changed it to “liberally” while scrutinizing the text for his American Revised edition? It seems just as likely, then, that the failure to remove “as before” was the fault of HM, not an editor.

P21, l. 16

MS vs. 1st ed.
Change re- to re
Revision Site 12e6-8, Sequence
Add new step 3. Cut off as I was from all intercourse with the civilized world and feeling the inefficacy of any thing the natives could do to relieve me; knowing too … and apprehensive … [A and AR]
Revision Site 12e6-8, Narrative

Change sentence 2 from However, in his fair-copy stage, HM no doubt recognized the series was overloaded; deleting his initial phrase “Despairing of obtaining any effectual remedy for it” [2], he began his new sentence with “Cut off.” to However, the English text is significantly reduced. One scenario is that, recognizing his series was overloaded, HM revised in his fair-copy stage by first deleting his initial phrase “Despairing of obtaining any effectual remedy for it” and then beginning his new sentence with “Cut off” [2]. In effect, the deletion eliminates the aural and, possibly, intellectual redundancy of “effectual remedy” and “inefficacy of any thing.”

In the following sentence change he altered to he would have altered and delete [3]

At the end, insert The word appears as “inefficacy” in A and AR [3]. As with the oscillation between “luxurious” and “luxuriant” in Revision Site 10ms31e25, a remote possibility is that Gansevoort made the change from “inefficiency” to “inefficacy” here during his cursory proofreading of the English proofs of Typee that he had received and dashed off on the same day to be re-set in New York. [rev. 2009]