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Questions tagged [textual-history]

For questions about the history of the manuscripts, printed texts, or orally transmitted versions of a single work; or when and where a work was first published; or specific features of one or more editions; or how editors establish an accurate or authoritative text, etc. Not to be confused with the [publishing] tag, which is about publishing practices generally, or the [historical-context] tag, which is about relevant background information.

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Are there any recorded discrepancies between The Odyssey as oral tradition and The Odyssey as Homer transcribed it?

The Odyssey began as oral tradition, and was later transcribed by someone we now call "Homer." Disregarding the Homeric Question concerning the identity of the person who transcribed these works, it ...
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23 votes
1 answer
5k views

Which is the 'correct' version of "The Lady of Shalott" and why are there two?

It seems Tennyson wrote two versions of "The Lady of Shalott". They are quite similar but have some big differences, for example, the first stanza of the 1832 version is: On either side the ...
Mirte's user avatar
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21 votes
1 answer
6k views

Why is the order of The Chronicles of Narnia changed from original publication?

When I originally read The Chronicles of Narnia I read an older boxset which has the books numbered in original publication order: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe Prince Caspian The Voyage of ...
sanpaco's user avatar
  • 536
21 votes
1 answer
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When and why did "No man is an island" start being regarded as a poem?

John Donne's "Meditation XVII" from Devotions upon Emergent Occasions (1624) includes the following well-known passage: No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the ...
verbose's user avatar
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20 votes
1 answer
4k views

Censorship of African-American characters in "Tintin in America"

From the Wikipedia page on Tintin in America: For the 1973 edition published in the U.S., the publishers made Hergé remove African-American characters from the book, and redraw them as Whites or ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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19 votes
2 answers
139k views

What is the origin of this contradictory poem?

Does anyone know where this poem originates from: One fine morning in the middle of the night, Two dead men got up to fight, Back to back they faced each other, Drew their swords and shot one another....
Mirte's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
9k views

In which version of "Snow White" is her name really "Lips Red as Blood, Hair Black as Ebony, Skin White as Snow"?

Is there a version of Snow White where her name is a longer description? TVTropes says: Snow White. Her real name is "Lips Red as Blood, Hair Black as Ebony, Skin White as Snow" based on ...
Malady's user avatar
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15 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why are there three different versions of the "solid/sullied/sallied flesh" line in Hamlet?

While looking up about the passage asked about in this previous question, I noticed that there are different versions of the same line in Hamlet, Act I Scene II, line 333: O that this too too solid ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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15 votes
1 answer
170 views

Did Cummings' editors try to fix his works' eccentricities?

E.E. Cummings often wrote with deliberately unconventional spelling and syntax. It was popularly criticised when published; however, did his editors try to "fix" his work before it was published? If ...
BESW's user avatar
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14 votes
2 answers
166 views

Why don't the modern printings of Campion novels use the original artwork?

Youngman Carter painted beautiful bespoke art for the covers of Margery Allingham's mystery novels, and his style became associated with her work. Why don't the modern reprints of the Campion novels ...
BESW's user avatar
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13 votes
1 answer
2k views

Is this a typo in my copy of The Hunchback of Notre Dame?

Nevertheless, as be harangued them, the satisfaction and admiration unanimously excited by his costume were dissipated by his words; Hugo, Victor. The Hunchback of Notre-Dame (AmazonClassics Edition) ...
ICD's user avatar
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12 votes
2 answers
1k views

Is the original manuscript of Don Quixote extant?

Apparently, there are 27 known copies of the first edition (1605). But Cervantes' hand-written original is not extant, correct?
Rodney Dunning's user avatar
12 votes
1 answer
318 views

Where did Gerrit de Veer publish his diary?

Not so long ago I saw the film Nova Zembla, a fictionalized retelling of the voyage as described in Gerrit de Veer's diary. On his Wikipedia page, there is only one mention about his published diary: ...
kenorb's user avatar
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12 votes
1 answer
187 views

Why did "Some Answered Questions" get re-translated?

Some Answered Questions was first published into English in 1908, but was "extensively retranslated" in 2014. Why was a retranslation needed? I assume it has to do with the dual origin of the English ...
BESW's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
2k views

What is the 'full' version of The Epic of Gilgamesh?

I looked at a PDF of the Epic of Gilgamesh, and it was very pretty. Then, I decided that I wanted to purchase the physical copy of the book. While the version that I read online, which I thought was ...
user31078's user avatar
  • 361
11 votes
1 answer
705 views

How was Crime and Punishment originally published?

I know that Crime and Punishment was originally published in "The Russian Messenger". I read that it was a Monthly journal. But how exactly was Crime and Punishment formatted in its initial release? ...
Chris Fraser's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
228 views

How does "handwriting" provide evidence for dating Beowulf's composition to "the first half of the eighth century"?

The Wikipedia article for Beowulf has this interesting bit in the "Authorship and date" section: On the other hand, some scholars argue that linguistic, palaeographical (handwriting), ...
bobble's user avatar
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11 votes
0 answers
182 views

What methods have been used to distinguish the text between the two strands of The Neverending Story?

I've owned two copies of Michael Ende's The Neverending Story in my life - both English translations, one paperback with a blue cover, one hardback with a red cover inside the dustcover. Both of them ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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11 votes
0 answers
26k views

What's the origin of the rhyme "My friend Billy had a ten foot willy"?

A simple rhyming song which I heard growing up and which still gets stuck in my head every so often: My friend Billy had a ten foot willy. He stuck it through the neighbour's door. OR He showed ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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10 votes
1 answer
736 views

Can I trust that Shakespeare's sonnets will always be published with the same numbering system?

Can I trust that Shakespeare's sonnets will always be published using the same numbering system? Will Sonnet 30 always be published as Sonnet 30; sonnet 29 always as 29? Was the current order and ...
user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
994 views

Why was the text of "HaTikvah" changed?

"HaTikvah," Israel's national anthem, was adopted from an earlier poem called "Tikvateinu," by Naftali Herz Imber. Here is the official text of the anthem (translation and transliteration can be found ...
Shokhet's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
1k views

If I find a book by Nietzsche, how do I know if it's Friedrich's original work, and not work that was edited by his nazi sister, Elisabeth?

Background I've been getting into philosophy lately, and I've been wanting to read some of Nietzsche's work. But history has it that after his mental decline, and subsequent death, his sister became ...
Alec's user avatar
  • 193
9 votes
1 answer
495 views

How long have the cantillation marks been around?

Over the whole Jewish Bible, there are cantillation marks that denote how the text is supposed to be chanted. The sounds differ between places, such as between the Ashkenazi and the Sephardic ...
Mithical's user avatar
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9 votes
3 answers
593 views

Does this edit in The Magician's Nephew (from "had her bathe" to "had her bath") fundamentally change the meaning of the sentence?

Later editions of C.S. Lewis 'The Magician's Nephew' have been edited, presumably to reflect modern usage. Polly went down and had her bathe; at least she said that was what she'd been doing, but we ...
Valorum's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
628 views

Which short stories are falsely attributed to Guy de Maupassant, and why?

Thanks to @GarethRees's sleuthing and editing, I just learned that several French short stories found in the Project Gutenberg version of the "Entire Original Maupassant Short Stories" are in fact not ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.8k
9 votes
4 answers
1k views

Is there a useful "entry-level" annotated edition of Le Morte d'Arthur? [closed]

I've always been a huge fan of Arthurian legend, and have read many books and comics etc inspired by it. But I've always wanted to read a telling of the stories that was much closer to the source so ...
user3776749's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why does Great Illustrated Classics change details in its abridged versions?

From the Wikipedia article on Great Illustrated Classics: The Great Illustrated Classics series of books offers easy-to-read adaptations of well known classics, featuring large print and ...
Alex's user avatar
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8 votes
3 answers
387 views

Which of these sources is right about "The Tempest"?

This is part of a quote by Ferdinand in the beginning of scene 1 of act 3 of "The Tempest": But these sweet thoughts do even refresh my labours, Most busy, least when I do it. According to ...
user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
2k views

What words sung by Gloria Gaynor correspond to the line written in the lyrics of I Will Survive as "It took all the strength I had not to fall apart"?

The lyrics of Gloria Gaynor's song "I Will Survive" include the line "It took all the strength I had not to fall apart". You can hear here what she actually sings. With what words ...
tell's user avatar
  • 202
8 votes
1 answer
272 views

How does the editor know that seven lines are missing from Wordsworth's Home at Grasmere?

The Wordsworth edition The Major Works, edited by Stephen Gill and published by Oxford University Press in 1984 (and revised later) was the first selection of Wordsworth's work (...) in which the ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
786 views

Is there really a single "Old Babylonian version" of the Epic of Gilgamesh?

From the Wikipedia article about the Epic of Gilgamesh: From the diverse sources found, two main versions of the epic have been partially reconstructed: the standard Akkadian version, or He who saw ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
6k views

What's the first appearance of the rhyme about "He died defending his right of way"?

There's a little poem that goes something like this: Here lies the body of Thomas Grey, Who died defending his right of way. He was perfectly right as he sped along, But he's just as dead as if he'd ...
A. B.'s user avatar
  • 275
8 votes
1 answer
272 views

Where can I find details on the original manuscripts for the Miyamoto Musashi texts?

I'm doing a "reliability of the text" study and want to review the reliability of the texts that have been used to substantiate the Miyamoto Musashi texts The Book of the Five Rings and The Path of ...
Benjamin's user avatar
  • 183
8 votes
2 answers
393 views

How did the story of Robin Hood pass from oral literature to written?

Robin Hood is a famous figure of English folklore, whose existence or fictionality is still a subject of debate. The stories about him started off as folk tales transmitted orally (ballads), but by ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.8k
8 votes
1 answer
320 views

Source of the 1953 revisions to "The Great Gatsby"

The 1953 Scribner’s edition of The Great Gatsby has many minor differences in wording from the first (1925) edition by the same publisher. I’ve collected some of the differences from the first fifty ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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8 votes
1 answer
192 views

Why weren't Blake's poems published in their original painted form?

A little known fact about William Blake is that his poems in Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience were published in a painted form. As the article William Blake and the Music of the Songs ...
No one text's user avatar
8 votes
0 answers
305 views

Why does Kipling's poem ‘The Three-Decker’ differ between editions?

Rudyard Kipling’s collection The Seven Seas (1896) contains the poem ‘The Three-Decker’, whose third verse is as follows: By ways no gaze could follow, a course unspoiled of cook, Per Fancy, ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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7 votes
2 answers
770 views

Are Barnes & Noble editions of public domain works of reliable quality?

If I buy a "Barnes & Noble Classics Series" edition of a book that is in public domain, can I be confident that it is "correct," in the sense of being unabridged, un-bowdlerize,...
Sven3B's user avatar
  • 145
7 votes
1 answer
1k views

Why was Pygmalion retitled to My Fair Lady?

George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion has been adapted many times for different media, but most notably as a musical entitled My Fair Lady. This musical was so popular that some screen adaptations have ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
823 views

When did Robert Frost write "Two Tramps in Mud Time"?

Googling the poem, and utilizing Wikipedia, I could not find the answer to my question. The book I own ("101 Great American Poems") which contains the poem also does not give the year of its creation -...
B. Clay Shannon-B. Crow Raven's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
380 views

Why is the 1820 Indicator version of La Belle Dame Sans Merci seen as more "politically correct"?

In his textbook Theory of Literature, Paul Fry writes at length about Jerome McGann's critique of Keats. As part of this he has this to say about the comparison between the 1819/1848 and the 1820 ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
552 views

What is the textual source for the original ending of Austen's Persuasion?

The Norton Critical Edition of Jane Austen's Persuasion includes two chapters as a supplement to the novel. These chapters, printed under the heading "The Original Ending of Persuasion", ...
verbose's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
131 views

In which year was Frühlingsbotschaft by Heinrich Heine published?

I have been searching the entire internet (or mostly) and can't find when Frühlingsbotschaft by Heinrich Heine was first published. I double-checked and it is not part of his collections Gedichte, ...
Narusan's user avatar
  • 877
7 votes
1 answer
448 views

How many manuscripts of English Renaissance plays have survived?

During the English renaissance, plays were primarily written for performance and play manuscripts were usually not sold to a printer before the play had had a successful run in the theatre. A number ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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7 votes
1 answer
226 views

Why did the book held by Rubashov change title between different versions of "Darkness at Noon"?

The English translation of Koestler's Darkness at Noon was made in 1940 by Daphne Hardy. Since the original version of the manuscript was presumed lost, for many years this was the only copy of the ...
Clara Díaz Sanchez's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
304 views

Fight Club book editions and different text passages

I found out that there are different editions of Fight Club that contain different text passages. I cannot find any page that would describe these differences and I don't know which version is the ...
HPCS's user avatar
  • 171
7 votes
0 answers
64 views

Were any of the Asbjørnsen og Moe stories transcribed directly from oral traditions?

Asbjørnsen og Moe are the Norwegian answers to the Brothers Grimm, the collectors of what is still considered the definitive volume of Norwegian folk tales. How many of these tales were taken from ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
  • 73.8k
6 votes
1 answer
932 views

Why are so many Agatha Christie novels published with multiple titles?

For example: And Then There Were None was first called Ten Little Indians; The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side was later shortened to The Mirror Crack'd; Death in the Air is also known as Death in ...
Wyvern123's user avatar
  • 368
6 votes
2 answers
418 views

How can I find information about the editions of a book?

I estimate that generally the latest edition of a book is preferred unless you're after collection value or if an older version is preferred for some reason, for example due to original cover. In non-...
user4546's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
200 views

Did "Gargantua and Pantagruel" originally have illustrations?

The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel is a series of novels by François Rabelais, originally published in the 16th century. The Wikipedia article notes this about illustrations: The most famous and ...
bobble's user avatar
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