After the detail of these thousand pages, with their exhaustive bibliographical analyses, lists of textual variants, and summaries of critical opinion, we are left pretty much where we were in the first place in regard to Donne’s Elegies. Allying themselves with the view, expressed over recent years by such scholars as Arthur Marotti and Harold Love, that “scribal publication” functioned alongside the printed book as an important and legitimate means of textual transmission in the seventeenth century, the editors persuade us that the Westmoreland manuscript, in the hand of Donne’s long-standing acquaintance Rowland Woodward, is the best copy-text and that its ordering of the seventeen poems is probably authorial. They are rightly cautious about dating any of the poems more firmly than to somewhere in the 1590s, a few possibly later. Unfortunately, being compilers rather than initiators of critical discussion, they have no...

 

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