This Project

Critics credit Joseph Addison and Richard Steele with inventing the genre of the essay periodical with the Tatler (1709-11). England’s first daily paper, the Daily Courant, began publication in 1702. Daniel Defoe’s Review (1704-13) fits uneasily into this history. The Review was neither a newspaper, though it reported news, nor a periodical, though it contained essays. Defoe’s single authorship, his policy of writing what he liked, and the democracy of print in Queen Anne‘s reign made the Review a unique meeting of a private journalistic sensibility with a growing reading public. Along with other early English periodicals, the Review helped create that public, as Jürgen Habermas initially pointed out, and shape a community of readers.

In many ways Defoe’s Review functioned more like a modern weblog than like the periodicals that developed from the Tatler. The democratic qualities of the Review – its inexpensiveness, wide circulation and its role as a catalyst for discussion in London’s coffee houses – provide the guiding spirit for this edition, which functions as a weblog and a wiki.

Jerome McGann writes that “a critical edition has to include in its theory and historical procedures the capacity for an objective self-analysis … Ideally, a critical edition should not be produced, and ought not to be evaluated, without situating it clearly in terms of its present orientation and set of purposes.”Jerome McGann, A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1983), p. 100. This edition’s form is a direct response to both. We consider the Review‘s periodical form and rhythm integral to any understanding of how it functioned in its field of production and reception. The modern weblog, while different in significant ways from early 18th-century print culture, is best able to mimic Defoe’s form, rhythm and the accessibility of his work. Our purposes include generating debate and discussion about the Review onsite, and in that way generating the opportunity for the formation for a public, or perhaps a social imaginary, something we hope the form we have chosen will facilitate.

This edition aims at reproducing the first edition of Defoe’s text as exactly as possible, basing its text for volumes 1-4 and 6-8 on the set of the Review in the Harry Ransom Center (HRC) at the University of Texas. The Ransom Center houses one of the nearest-to-complete sets of the Review, along with a second copy of the first volume.

We have examined the first two volumes of the British Library‘s set of the Review as well in the course of our research. While it is a more complete set than the one housed in the HRC – the most complete set extant, as far as is currently known – it is has seen much more use over the centuries. While it is certainly a readable copy, its pages are considerably darker, and its ink is much more worn than one finds in the HRC’s two copies of volume one.

Our editorial policy is based on the Modern Language Association’s guidelines for editors of scholarly editions. The weblog format and the opportunity for interaction that such a format makes possible in terms of discussion and comment will hopefully lead to ongoing discussions about the text itself, narrative forms, material shapes of texts, communities of readers, and whatever else readers consider relevant.

This site will be added to until all nine years of the Review are online. This version of the Review is annotatable by users and fully searchable by keyword and topic.

Rationale for Editing

Because of the commitment required for editing the complete Review, there are few extant editions. Arthur Wellesley Secord’s facsimile edition in 22 volumes, which began in 1938, had only 475 sets printed and thus remains scarce today. More recently, John McVeagh has begun editing a nine-volume plain-text edition, published by Pickering & Chatto. Because of the sheer bulk of pages required to print the Review, despite such recent work, access will be limited to libraries with a large enough budget to purchase the set.

The primary function of this electronic edition, therefore, is to serve the public with an easily-accessible edition of Defoe’s Review. Further, the nature of the electronic edition provides us with technological innovations hitherto unavailable to scholars: namely, the ability to discuss the text as it is published in a virtual scholarly community. Thus, this edition of the Review utilizes the format of the contemporary weblog, one that serves the modern public sphere with many of the same functions as the early eighteenth-century periodical. The goal of this edition is to put into circulation a series of texts that, due to their relative obscurity, have been often neglected by scholars and historians of the early eighteenth century.

This online edition of Defoe’s Review is meant to replicate the patterns by which Defoe published the original, from 1704 to 1713. After only four issues of weekly publication, Defoe published two numbers per week for most of the Review‘s first year. Because of the time consuming nature of textual editing, we may publish edited Review entries at a slower pace at times. So far we have been able to duplicate Defoe’s pace. In either case, our aim is to present the Review in a way that allows readers to read it the way Defoe’s contemporaries did – as a periodical.

We acknowledge G. Thomas Tanselle’s historicist statement that “[a]ny editor who normalizes or modernizes a documentary text is obviously engaging in critical editing, for the resulting text departs from all the historical witnesses through the operation of the editor’s critical judgment.”Tanselle, G. Thomas. “Historicism and Critical Editing.” Studies in Bibliography 39 (1986), p. 13. As Tanselle and other textual scholars have long argued, all editing is critical, and, we would argue, criticism.

Our edition attempts to overcome the problems of silent emendation and modernization posited by Tanselle in works such as “Historicism and Critical Editing” and A Rationale of Textual Criticism (1989) by separating out what can be attributed to author’s intention versus those elements which are part and parcel of contemporary printing practices.

This said, we are publishing what some have labeled a “social text,” referring to practices by textual editors such as Jerome McGann, and this model tends to privilege the combination of actors, processes, technologies and practices that generate texts in order to deliver a work as close as possible to what a given set of readers read rather than what an author intended for them to read. Since we are re-presenting the Review as a periodical, as a text moving with a degree of instability and changeability through time as well as existing historically in space, that audience – in this case, the audience of London’s coffee houses from 1704-13 – is of particular interest to us.

We are, as a result, following what we critically deem to be Defoe’s intent only when we feel strongly that the printers simply made mistakes. In this practice we are also, and most likely even more closely, following the typesetter’s intent. No manuscript of the entire Review, or even of any significant portion of the Review, is known to exist. Our most reliable source is the record of what Defoe’s printers compiled and published. We have no way of knowing how much of Defoe’s original publication, capitalization, spelling, grammar, or syntax were changed during the typesetting process. We suspect the answer is “some,” but, given the exigencies of printing twice a week for most of the first year, and three times a week after that, “not much.”

Our editorial practices account for the printing conventions in the early eighteenth century, recognizing that this technology often produced mistyped letters, symbols that lack meaning when transferred to other media, and non-standardized spacing. Therefore, spacing will be standardized. Printer’s word repetition (at the bottom of each page), which was part of the mechanical practice of putting pages together, is arbitrary for our purposes and will not be reproduced. So that the edition can be re-imagined as an original print periodical, however, page numbers will be noted within editorial brackets. The original print run of the Review also used square brackets for page numbers, so this practice comes as close as possible to making a text on a continuous screen duplicate the look of Defoe’s pages.

One practice we have had to adopt that makes our text look decidedly different from the original is the use of spaces between paragraphs rather than indenting. Online markup language may get to the point where we are able to change this practice, but it does not seem to be moving in that direction.

In our rationale for emendation we differentiated between errors that might be attributed to the printing press and errors that would not have been regarded as such in contemporary print culture. The decision to emend probable printer’s errors resulted from taking a sample of radically misspelled words from numbers 1-10 of the Review. In this sample, we found that none of the words could be variations on contemporary spelling. So, for example, we examined the following:

p. 12 “poper” rather than “proper”
p. 12 “moneur” for monsieur
p. 36 “Gourt” for “Court”

Accidentals, unless they can be attributed to a printing error, have been rendered in accordance with the copy text. Words that can be attributed to contemporary spelling variation, such as “Nonsence” for “Nonsense” in Number 1, or, more radically, have been likewise rendered in accordance with the copy text. The Review often varies the spelling of proper names within a single number, or uses one spelling for one or more numbers, and then changes to a different spelling for later numbers. We have decided to retain the spellings as they were printed to show the Review‘s way of handling such matters in periodical time.

In general, therefore, we have preserved all capitalization, punctuation, and spelling, unless it can be attributed to the typesetting process. This includes instances where the same word is spelled or capitalized more than one way in the same number, or across separate numbers. Further, we have removed the printer’s guide words at the bottom of each page and standardized certain type, including emending the long-s, the connected “ct,” and other conventions of eighteenth-century print.

Significant textual variations in early printings of the Review are limited to the addition of advertisements after the first printing in No. 4. A comparison of variations side-by-side reveals that the original type settings are preserved, but in rare cases additional advertisements are added to the end of the original copy. Because of the nature of this addition, one dependent on the Review’s periodical status, and more importantly, because the copy that has this addition is almost a complete set of the Review, one of only three or four known to exist, we are using the second printing as the copy text.

We know Defoe planned to gather the individual numbers of the Review for republication as annual volumes from the beginning of the periodical’s run. On the second page of the first number, Defoe writes:

    As these Papers may be Collected into Volumes, they will Compose a Compleat History of France, the Antient Part of which shall be a faithful Abridgement of former Authors, and the Modern Affairs stated, as Impartially and Methodical as the length of this Paper will permit (I:2).

We suspect that sometime during the print run of the first few numbers of the Review, Defoe, or someone else with authority over the text, made minor corrections. The word “Wheedled” on the first page of the first issue of the Review is printed as “Wheeled” in both copies housed in the HRC, but was corrected by the time the page Secord used for his facsimile edition was printed. An advertisement on the bottom of the fourth number of the Review exists in one of the HRC’s sets and in Secord’s facsimile, but not in the other HRC set. We have not found evidence of variants beyond these early numbers. For example, even errors that are easy to spot and fix, such as the mis-numbering of pages, carries over from the first to second copies held in the Ransom Center. In Vol. 1, Numb. 78, page [328] is labeled [324] in both copies.

Either the printer kept the galleys intact, or, which seems more likely considering Defoe’s stated intention to gather the Review‘s individual numbers for volume publication, extra sheets were printed and stored after each print run of each individual number.

If extra sheets were not stored, then there were at least two editions of the Review: the first print run for periodical publication and the end-of-the-year print run for the volume containing the Review from Feb. 19, 1704, through Jan. 1705. A third possibility – the least likely, in our judgment – is that there were two print runs at the end of the year, since the evidence of the extant sets shows three possible variants: one represented by the HRC’s copy of vol. 1, another represented by the first volume in the HRC’s near-complete set of the entire run of the Review – which, like the single vol. 1, contains the misprint “Wheeled” for “Wheedled,” but unlike the single vol. 1, prints the extra advertisement on p. 32 in numb. 4 – and a third represented by Secord’s facsimile edition, which reproduces the corrected first page and the additional advertisement.

However, this last possibility is most likely just that. Secord’s own account of his “mosaic” approach to photographing the best available pages makes it impossible for us to know which sets contributed to which pages in his facsimile edition.

For a detailed account of the print history of the Review, see the Bibliographical Notes to each of Secord’s facsimile volumes.

Works Cited

McGann, Jerome. A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1983).

—–. “The Rationale of Hypertext.” Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, University of Virginia. Accessed 24 November 2007.

Secord, Arthur Wellesley, ed. Defoe’s Review. Reproduced from the original editions (New York: Columbia University Press, 1938).

Tanselle, G. Thomas. “Historicism and Critical Editing.” Studies in Bibliography 39 (1986): 1-46.