Types of Revision
In the process of revising an author reengages his or her work both as a reader and as a writer, but that re-engagement can take many forms. The different forms explored in this site can be classed in the following categories.
Collaborative Revision: Author, Colleagues, and Friends
One form of revision highlighted in this site involves collaboration between writers. A look at May Swenson's work with Elizabeth Bishop in revising her poem "Dear Elizabeth" reveals the importance of correspondence; specifically, Bishop-acting as mentor to Swenson-offered advice on what she called "little things," such as poetic form and diction. Collaboration, however, need not take place only between writers. Robert Duncan's collaboration with his life partner, the printmaker Jess Collins, in creating the richly illustrated A Book of Resemblances played a pivotal role in his evaluation of the poems in the volume. Duncan's troubled relationship with his first publisher led him to devise, in defiance, an elaborately detailed mock-up for the book that would eventually be published through a successful collaboration with a second publisher.
Transmission as Cultural Revision: Author, Copyist, Audience
The seven extant manuscripts of the "Debate between the Body and the Soul" expand the concept of revision to include a dynamic of composition that is not simply collaborative but collective; here the revisions are a product of a culture rather than the product of literary partnership. Scribes altered the text each time they recopied it, editing its dialect and content so that the work would be more easily understood by the intended audience. Unlike other revision projects that depend on a notion of hierarchy predicated on a final version, the "Debate" invites viewers to recognize multiple versions of the poem as equally authoritative.
Revision and Translation
The aims of revision are not always so self-evident; three sites examine the ways "translation" functions as a kind of revision. James Merrill obfuscates his language in successive revisions of "Lost in Translation" to get at an underlying sense that a direct treatment of his material obscures. In another vein, Samuel Beckett's style of revision involves paring down the excesses of imagination and then translating as a way of further minimizing. A presentation of Edmund Spenser's translations of Marot's and Du Bellay's poems examines how Spenser revisited his first published work in order to recontextualize it and render it in alternate poetic forms.
Revising to Reauthorize: Second Editions
A second project on Spenser considers the implications of Spenser's
replacement of the final stanzas of Book III of The Fairie Queene,
a few revisions that go far towards transforming the second edition
of this epic poem. The changes take on added resonance when considered
in relation to his depictions of writing, un-writing, and re-writing
within the epic. This site aims to likewise emphasize the various
styles of writing, un-writing, and re-writing by those long recognized
for their exemplary final versions.