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Transcript of Fundamental Brainwork. Rossetti Among the .Fundamental Brainwork. Rossetti Among the Printers

  • Fundamental Brainwork. Rossetti Among the Printers

    Jerome McGann

    .

    fanEnglishpoetotherthanDanteGabrielRossettiwasmoreinvolvedwiththeprintproductionofhisorherworks,Idontknowwhoitwouldbe.IexceptBlakeherebecauseImeanprintproductioncarriedoutby

    thatsetofexternalagentscalledcompositors,printers,binders,andpublishers.Inanycase,IamfairlysurethatnoEnglishpoetbefore1900hasleftbehindalegacyofproductionmaterialsasvoluminousandcomplexasRossettis.

    ThatRossettiwasanobsessivereviserofhiswork,bothpictorialandtex-tual,iswellknown.Thesurvivingtextualmaterialsaresomassive,however,thatonecanscarcelybelievehispublisherpermittedsuchextravagance.InthisessayIwillbeprimarilystudyingtheproofingprocessforRossettis1881Ballads and Sonnets,animportantsetofwhichwasacquiredrecentlybytheBritishLibrary(hereaftertheBLProofs).Assessingtheprecisestatusofthissetofproofs,however,callsustolookcarefullyatRossettishabitualbehaviorintheprocessofhisbooksproduction.SoIhavetobeginthenarrativemuchearlier,inthe1850s(seeAppendix1foraschematicchronology).1

    27

    ScholarsarewellawarethatDanteGabrielRossettiwasseriouslycon-cernedthattheprintingofhisworkbecarriedouttohispreciseexpecta-tions.ThesurvivingMSandproofmaterialsforhisbooksareremarkablyextensive.Thisisespeciallythecasewithhis1870Poems andthetwo1881volumesPoems. A New Edition andBallads and Sonnets.Aswithhis1870volume,Rossettionceagainenlistedotherstohelphimwiththecor-rectionofhistwo1881volumesastheyweregoingthroughthepress.Tak-ingtheBallads and Sonnets volumeasanespeciallyclearanddramaticcaseofRossettiscreativehabits,thisessayexposeshowmeticulousandhowsignificantwerethecorrectionsandchangesthatRossettimadetothatbook.

    11. Thematerialsdiscussedinthisessaycanbeaccessed,infacsimileandtextualtranscriptions

    andwitheditorialcommentary,inmyThe Complete Writings and Pictures of Dante Gabriel

    Rossetti. A Hypermedia Research Archive (www.rossettiarchive.org).Alsoimportantto

    consultareWilliamE.FredemanseditionofThe Correspondence of Dante Gabriel Ros-

    setti,9vols.(Cambridge:D.S.BrewerandBoydellandBrewer,2002-2010)(hereafter

  • TheprintinghistoryofRossettisfirstbook,The Early Italian Poets(1861),givesapresageofwhatwastocomein1869-1870and1881,whenheoversawtheproductionofhis1870Poems andhistwo1881volumes,Poems. A New Edition andBallads and Sonnets.Between1851and1858,Rossettisearchedinvainforapublisherforthetranslations.AtthatpointhehadacoresetofthetranslationsprobablytheCavalcantiandtheDantema-terialssetintypebyCharlesWhittinghamsChiswickPress.AsetoftheseproofswenttoCharlesEliotNortonforcommentandsuggestion,andsetsweresentaswelltoMrs.GaskellandtoWilliamAllingham.Noneoftheseproofmaterialssurvive,sofarasweknow.EspeciallyimportanthereisthefactthatRossettihadthisworkdoneonhisown,thoughRuskinprobablypaidforit.LikeTennyson,Rossettisaidthathecouldntseehisownworkclearlyuntilitassumedaprintedform.2

    BetweenJanuaryandMay1861,Rossettihadhisbooksetintypeonceagain,thistimethewholeofitsome500pagesbyWhittingham.Hestillhadnopublisher,butheusedtheseproofstoworkoutthesubstanceandformofthebook.Rossettiofferedthebooktothreepublishers,Macmillan,Chap-man&Hall,andSmith,Elder,andinJune1861itwasfinallyacceptedbythelatter,Ruskinspublisher.Rossettitriedinvaintohavethebookprintedwithhisownillustrations,andadecorativewoodcuttitlepagehemadeforthebooksurvivesinseveralproofs.HowattachedhewastotheideaofamoredecorativebookisunderscoredbyacopyatPrincetonthathassixsmalldraw-ingsbyRossettispacedoutatintervalsthroughthetext.Thepublisherrefusedtogoalongwiththeplan.3

    Atleastsixsetsoftheseproofswereprintedoffandtheremayhavebeenasmanyasten.Twoimportantsetshavefallenfromcirculationincludingthecrucialauthorssetthatwassoldin1929inthefamousJeromeKernsale.4

    Nonetheless,wecanstillseeclearlyhowRossettiusedtheseproofstocon-tinueworkingonthebookthroughtherestof1861.The Early Italian PoetswasfinallypublishedattheendofDecember1861.

    Fromthislittlehistorywemaynotetwosalientmatters:thatRossettifounditagreeabletousetheprintingprocessasameanstoextendhisowncompositionprocess;andsecond,thathewasgreatlyconcernedwiththety-

    28 Jerome McGann

    citedasFredeman)andRogerC.Lewis,Thomas James Wise and the Trial Book Fallacy

    (Aldershot:ScolarPress,1995)andThe House of Life: a Sonnet-Sequence by Dante

    Gabriel Rossetti,ed.RogerC.Lewis(Cambridge:BoydellandBrewer,2007).

    12. Foracomprehensivediscussionofthecomposition,revision,andreceptionofthissignal

    volumeseeThe Rossetti Archive, http://www.rossettiarchive.org/docs/1-1861.raw.html.

    13. SeeespeciallytheBeinecke,Fitzwilliam,andWrennproofcopies,thePrincetonillustrated

    copy,andtherevisedproofpages(inUniversityofVirginiasSpecialCollection),allof

    which are available in The Rossetti Archive, http://www.rossettiarchive.org/docs/1-

    1861.rawcollection.html.

    14.SeeThe Library of Jerome Kern, NYC,2vols.(NewYork:TheAndersonGalleries,1929),

    lot1004.

  • pography,graphicaldesign,andgeneralphysicalappearanceofhisbook.ThesetwointerestsremaindrivingforcesinallofRossettistextualworks,asweshallseefromtheevenmorespectacularcasesof1869-70and1881.Indeed,soinsistentweretheseconcernsforRossettithatapatternisestab-lishedwiththisfirstbook.Akindofopen-endedprintingprocessissetinplayandismaintainedbyhavingthetypefortheprojectedworkkeptstandinginthiscaseforeightmonths.RuskinappearstohavebornetheexpensewithThe Early Italian Poets butlater,asweknow,Rossettipaidtohavethetypekeptstandingforthe1870Poems (forninemonths)andfortheBallads andSonnets (forfivemonths).5

    Theprintinghistoryofthe1870Poems iswell-knownbutmaybeuse-fullyrecapitulated.RossettibegantohavethebooksetintypeinlateJuly1869,ingalleys.Bymid-Augustthefirstofaremarkablesequenceofproofcopiestheso-calledTrialBookswasprinted.BetweenAugust1869andApril1870appearedsuccessivelysixdistinctandintegralproofversionsofthe1870volumeaswellastenseparatelyprintedsubsetsofpartsofthebook,includingtheinfamousExhumationProofs.MultiplecopiesofalloftheseproofstageswereprintedoffandsentforcommentandcorrectiontoRossettisfriends,likeAllinghamandSwinburne,andtohisbrotherWilliamMichael.Somethirty-eightdistinctproofcopiesdescendtousaswellasnumerousfragmentsofothers.FromthismaterialweobserveRossettinotonlyrevisingandcomposingintheproofsbutaddingnewmaterialandexperimentingcon-tinuallywithnewsequencesforthepoemsandgroupingsofsubsets.

    ThatisthecontextintowhichRossettistwo1881volumeswereunder-taken.Beforezeroingintomyprincipalfocus,theBallads and Sonnets,onemoreimpingingnarrativeisneeded.

    TheideaforRossettis1881Ballads and Sonnets volumebeganslowlyduring1879,theyearafterthelastcopiesofhis1870Poemstheso-calledsixtheditionsoldout.Sofarasthe1881volumeisconcerned,adecisivemomentcomesinDecember1879whenRossetti,afterrepeatedefforts,ob-tainedahalfdozencopiesoftheTauchnitzedition,whichhadbeenpublishedinLeipzigin1873.RossettihadbeenseekingcopiesofthisbooksinceJanuary1879.Hewantedthemtoprepareprinterscopyfortheprojected1881bookbecausetheTauchnitzeditioncontainedalterationstovariouspoemsinthe1870 volume.Rossetti introduced these additions and revisionswhen heworkedontheproofsfortheTauchnitzprintinginthesummerandfallof1873.

    AsRossetti toldvariouscorrespondents,hehadbeenwritingpoetrythroughout1879,clearlywithaneyetothepublicationofanewbookofverse.

    FundamentalBrainwork.RossettiAmongthePrinters 29

    15.Foracomprehensivediscussionofthecomposition,revision,printing,andreceptionhis-

    toriesofthesetwobooksseehttp://www.rossettiarchive.org/docs/1-1870.raw.htmlandhttp://

    www.rossettiarchive.org/docs/2-1881.raw.html, andhttp://www.rossettiarchive.org/docs/

    1-1881.raw.html.Onhisdesiretohavethetypekeptstanding,seehisletterstoJaneMorris,

    30August,1869(FredemanIV.259).

  • JustaboutthetimehereceivedhiscopiesoftheTauchnitzedition,hewasworkingtofinishSoothsayandalettertoWilliamDaviesremarksonthecompositionofArdourandMemory,whichhecalledthefirstsonnethehadwritten ineightyears.6 In fact,hadbeenwriting fragmentsofversethroughoutthe1870sinvariousnotebooks.7

    RossettiinitiatedpracticalpublicationplansearlyinFebruary1880,whenhecontactedhispublisherF.S.Ellisaboutanewbookofpoetry.Originallyheintendedtopublisharevisedandaugmentededitionofhis1870Poems inonevolume.Workingoverhismaterials,however,herealizedthathehadmorepoemsthancouldbeaccommodatedtoasinglebook,sohedevisedtheschemethatresultedinthepublicationoftheBallads and Sonnets anditscompanion,ANewEditionofPoems.

    PrinterscopyforthesetwovolumesemergedfrompagesthatRossetticutupfromoneofthecopiesoftheTauchnitzeditionhereceivedinDecem-ber.Rossettitreatedtheseasproofpages,markingthemwithrevisionsandshiftingthemabouttotestpossibleorderingsforthepoems.Whennecessary,heaugmentedtheTauchnitzpageswithfreshmanuscriptsforexample,withamanuscriptofTheBridesPreludehehadcomposedmuchearlierandwithmanuscriptsofthenewpoemshehadbeenwritingsince1879:mostno-tably the longballadsRoseMary,TheWhiteShip,andTheKingsTragedy.

    Oneotherpreliminarymattershouldbenotedsinceithelpstoexplainthe astonishing character of the surviving 1881 proofs.Rossettis friendTheodoreWatts(laterWatts-Dunton),thelawyerfamousforrescuingSwin-burnefromalcoholism,workedasthepoetsintermediarywithRossettispub-lisherEllis.Wattsnotonlyhandledvariousfinancialandadministrativemat-tersforRossetti,hereadproofandwasinregularconversationwithRossettiabouttheevolutionofhistwo1881volumes.

    II.

    Akeydifferencebetweentheprintingandproofingprocessin1869-1870and1881isthatthe1881proofsweresenttoRossettisignaturebysignatureormoreaccurately,inbatchesofsignatures,orsheets,rangingfromtwotosevensignaturesatatime.Thisprocedurewasfollowedinthecaseofboth1881volumes,theBallads and Sonnets (setbyWhittingham)andthePoems.A New Edition (setbyStrangeways).In1869-70,bycontrast,theproofscametoRossettiasintegralandcompletesets,whichisoneimportantreasonwhythoseproofshavetraditionallybeenreferredtoastheTrialBooks.8

    30 Jerome McG