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The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Dual-Text Critical Editionby Charlotte Perkins Gilman
Synopses & Reviews
Scholars have argued for decades over which constitutes the best possible version of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s frequently anthologized story “The Yellow Wall-Paper.”
Most editions have been based on the 1892 New England Magazine publication rather than the handwritten manuscript at Radcliffe College. Publication of the unedited manuscript in 1994 sparked controversy over which of the two was definitive. Since then, scholars have discovered half a dozen parent texts for later twentieth-century printings, including William Dean Howells’s version from 1920 and the 1933 Golden Book version.
While traditional critical editions gather evidence and make an argument for adopting one text as preferable to others,“The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Dual-Text Critical Edition, edited by Shawn St. Jean, offers both manuscript and magazine versions, critically edited and printed in parallel for the first time. New significance appears in such facets as the magazine’s accompanying illustrations, its lineation and paragraphing, Gilman’s choice of pronouns, and her original handwritten ending.
This critical edition of “The Yellow Wall-Paper” includes a full and nontraditional apparatus, making it easy for students and scholars to study the more than four hundred variants between the two texts. Four new essays, written especially for this volume, explore the implications of this multitext model.
Book News Annotation:
Gilman's harrowing narrative has haunted readers since its original publication in 1892, but is this version, which appears in most anthologies and readers, the definitive text? Here St. Jean closely compares this version to the autograph version published by Radcliffe College in 1994, finding more than 400 variants, and provides articles on the genealogy of the substantive and accidental variants of early texts and editorial changes to the copy-texts. Contributors also provide essays on the illustrated text, the question of female "madness," the phenomenon of mental illness compared to the reliability of text, and the art and craft of deconstructing a text in parallel. St. Jean provides a fascinating parallel set of variants, some of which will doubtless cause critics to rethink their assumptions and interpretations. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
While traditional critical editions gather evidence and make an argument for adopting one text as preferable to others, "This volume offers both Gilman scholars and scholars of textual studies a unique and helpful means of engaging with a work that exists in multiple forms, and includes some insightful new readings of this much-analyzed story," sausCharlotte Rich, editor of the Charlotte Perkins Gilman Newsletter.Shawn St. Jean's “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman: A Dual-Text Critical Edition offers instead both manuscript and magazine, critically edited and printed in parallel for the first time.When viewed as part of a process beginning with writing and ending with bibliographic coding, new significance appears in such facets as the magazine's accompanying illustrations, its lineation and paragraphing, Gilman's choice of minor pronouns, and her original handwritten ending. This critical edition of “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilmanincludes a full and nontraditional apparatus for ease of use by students and scholars to study the more than 400 variants between the two. Four new essays, written especially for this volume, explore the implications of this multitext model.
About the Author
Shawn St.Jean, an independent scholar in Brockport, New York, has previously published on Charlotte Perkins Gilman in Studies in Bibliography, Feminist Studies, and Studies in Short Fiction. He is the author of Pagan Dreiser: Songs from American Mythology.
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