Last June, we published an admiring review, by Eric Ormsby, of The Notebooks of Robert Frost, edited by Robert Faggen and published by Harvard University Press. As Mr. Ormsby noted, publication of the Notebooks, the first in a projected six-volume Collected Works of the poet, was “a literary event of the first magnitude.” Our readers will wish to know, therefore, that subsequent digging has revealed that the edition appears to be deeply flawed. James Sitar, writing in the current issue of Essays in Criticism, reports the dismal news. “Among the errors are misreadings and omissions in transcription… . Even in the more carefully transcribed passages in Faggen’s version, … there are often five or more significant errors per page; in other parts, there can be five errors in a single line of text.” The book is a hefty 700-plus pages: you do the math. As our own William Logan notes in Parnassus: Poetry in Review, “To read this volume is to believe that Frost was a dyslexic and deranged speller, that his brisk notes frequently made no sense, that he often traded the expected word for some fanciful or perverse alternative.” It is dismaying that such a distinguished publisher, overseeing the work of one of America’s greatest poets, should give its imprimatur to such shoddy work.
This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 26 Number 6, on page 3
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