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A BLAKE VARIORUM EDITION
Michael J. Tolley of the University of Adelaide and Peter Otto, now of the University of Melbourne, were recently given a grant by the University of Adelaide as initial funding for a new multivolume annotated edition of Blake. Margaret Hood, who has just successfully completed her doctoral thesis on “The Pleasant Charge: William Blake’s Multiple Roles for Women,” is already working as a part-time research assistant for the project. Other editors are being consulted.
One of the first texts in preparation is Milton, for which Otto will have special responsibility, although Tolley, as General Editor, will be working closely with him and with other editors, as one of the major assets of the new edition is expected to be derived from his long-accumulating files of source materials and other scholarly notes. Tolley himself is beginning work on The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.
As is usual in a variorum edition, the contributions of previous commentators will be brought together but subjected to a rigorous critical sifting and supplemented by new readings. A new feature, though this enterprise must be difficult, will be an endeavor to take greater account of the differing reading experiences of each copy of Blake’s illuminated poems; in this sense, also, the new work may be considered a variorum edition. The aim of the editorial undertaking is genuinely to “open” the texts, while freeing them from critical encumbrances.