REPORT ON REPRESENTATIVE POETRY

by the Associate General Editor

F. DAVID HOENIGER

November 5, 1962


The appearance of Vol. I seems a fitting occasion for a report on the Representative Poetry project by the General Editor. Professor Priestley has asked me to present such a report in his absence. First of all, you will wish to know that Vol.2 is in the press. Galleys, for the text at least, if they are not ready yet can be expected shortly. The volume is planned for Jan. 1st., to be available to English 2b classes for the the second term. I hode that we can let instructors of 2b have a copy of the contents of that volume shortly. For the third volume, a good part of the editing has already been done. The final deadline for the remainder is Feb. 1st, 1963. This deadline must be strictly kept if the volume is to be available to next year's 3b class.

Thus we are well on the way towards completion of a large project that has required and will still require the cooperation and considerable sacrifice in time by many members of the department, including some of those most occupied in administration, other editorial work, or the writing of books, in some cases all three. In view of this fact and also of the remarkable diversity of personalities in the department, the almost punctual appearance of Vol.1 seems a little miraculous. And if some here require further persuasion, may I mention that about half the material for Vol.I left the hands of the editors or their typists only in June or even early July. By the editors I mean those doing the editing, not the General Editor, who by then was in London., nor his main assistant who saw that part of the material first in galley-proof. As three of the main editors were away during the galley and page-proof stages, communication between them and me was sometimes hectic, sometimes bewildered, sometimes non-existent. Throughout this period., the Press not only stood up solidly but performed and incredibly rapid and efficient job. The department seemed rather less solid. Some corrected proofs arrived from London a little too late, and on one occasion when we took pity on distant editors, Miss Halpenny sent them their manuscript copy by air on the very day on which they returned the corrected proof sheets. The post office and perhaps the Diefenbaker government made not a few dollars out of Rep. Poetry.

I thought I should report to that extent on this summer's adventures in case some members of the department are upset by a number of small imperfections and inconsistencies. Of these I hope few will be found in the text; rather many will, I fear, be found in the notes. In them, we sometimes had to leave inconsistencies, sometimes we missed them no doubt, and sometimes I introduced changes without consulting the editors involved, though I trust without incurring their wrath. So far, at least, no one has been rash enough to complain. I would like at this point to pay tribute to the four colleagues who on short notice in July and August helped with the proof-reading in Toronto, and who caught many errors, printer's errors and others. One person who proofread evenings after marking Grade 13 papers during the day caught a precious slip in the typescript missed by the Miltonians in London even in proof, and I still wonder with him, whether we should not have left it, as a bit of diplomatic protection for the general editors, just in case. The hyper-Miltonic line in Book IV of Paradise Lost read: "[Satan] Squat like a toad, close at the rear of Eve". The Press brought a poem by Vaughan up to date by entitling it, "They are all gone into the "World of Flight", and the Spenserians will be glad that we caught the error in the line, "From wordy cares himself he did esloyne". May I urge members of the department to make note of any errors they catch in the volume, and send them on to me so that we can correct them in the second impression.

It must already be obvious from my remarks that we owe much to the Press. We do so not merely for the outward appearance of the volume -- ---what was an unwieldy book in forbidding black which any student in his senses discarded at the earliest opportunity is now a gracefully bound anthology which some will find pleasurable to own -- but also for the setting up of the content and indeed the content itself. We received frequent valuable editorial advice from Miss Halpenny and her staff. I would urge that the Chairman and Secretary be asked to send on our behalf a letter of appreciation to Miss Halpenny.

Now some remarks about the content of Vol. I. After certain basic principles had been decided upon by the department., the Rep. Poetry cmte., and the general editors., Professor Maclure made a selection of poems for the volume, with due regard to proposals which had been sent in by interested staff. This selection we adopted, except for minor changes and additions. Incidentally, even in the choice of poems, it has been our policy to leave as much freedom as possible to individual editors. Here are some of the basic decisions that were made:

(i) that the new anthology be in three volumes and designed for the General Course, and more especially the b courses only, one volume per year; but that the material should not be confined to the present syllabus of the b courses we were instructed to include other poets of importance and some minor works of relevance;

(ii) that major poets be represented more generously and that many of the minor poets of the old Rep. Poetry be omitted;

(iii) that only complete poems be printed and, in the case of narrative poems of great length, large representative sections; in other words, that snippets be avoided;

(iv) that if possible all poems be printed in single column.

(v) At a somewhat later stage it was decided to begin the anthology only with Wyatt and Surrey, omitting Chaucer. This was done because we were advised by Chaucerians that since good and cheap Chaucer texts are available, the trouble to re-edit Chaucer would hardly be worth while. The omission of Chaucer meant also that we could give generous space to Spenser, Donne and Milton.

How different our approach to selection has been from that in the old Rep. Poetry can be seen by comparing the Milton material. In the old volume, we had Book I of Paradise Lost, plus snippets from other Books, plus snippets from Paradise Regained and Samson. In the new volume, we have four Books of Paradise Lost, with short descriptions of intervening action provided in the text. That change, you will agree, is progressive.

Of the major poets, Spenser presented by far the most difficult problem. How could we convey a fair idea of The Faerie Queene and in addition print some other poems within available space? Some of the so-called "minor poems" are quite long. The Hymnes, for instance, would each have covered seven to eight pages, the Epithalamium takes up ten. After much consultation, Professor Maclure decided on two eclogues from The Shepheardes Calender, on Epithalamion, and on a compromise of two suggestions for the Faerie Queene, namely to print either an entire Book , or to print five or six key-episodes like The Bower of Bliss and the Garden of Adonis, from different Books. The compromise still enables instructors to teach The Faerie Queene with emphasis on either. But it was possible to print that much only by making an exception to the single column rule, and by printing The Faerie Queene in slightly lower case. It looks fine on the page, to my mind. A similar procedure will be applied to Byron's Don Juan in Vol. II.

As for the editing, we did lay down certain principles and rules which were followed most of the time. We have, I think., made a real effort to observe critical method in editing, and thus to arrive at more accurate texts than sometimes found in the old volume. But it would be wise not to make too loud a claim on this point.

If the volume looks pleasant, we owe it to the Press, and if you find in it some good editing and annotation., we owe them to the editors themselves, and only to a very minor extent to those who signed the Preface.

[signed] F. D. Hoeniger Associate Gen. Editor


[This four-page typed report, which written to be delivered orally, is appended to the minutes of the Department meeting of November 5, 1962, in A71-0010/002, University Archives. Underlined words in the typescript are italicized in this transcription. I.L.]