Rare Book Monthly

Articles - November - 2016 Issue

Old Books / New Editions. Part II.

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Welcome to this second installment in my three-part essay series on new editions of 17th-century women writers. This second essay discusses Alice Eardley's edition (2014) of an unusual, uncanonical literary manuscript attributed to Lady Hester Pulter of Broadfield Hall, Hertfordshire. The Pulter manuscript is a bound book (8" x 5") of 168 inscribed folios ~ poetry, "emblemes" (emblem poems), and an unfinished prose narrative on sexual violence. The book was acquired by Leeds University Library in 1975 at Christie's sale of the property of Sir Gilbert Inglefield, architect and Lord Mayor of London (1967-1968). But due to a cataloguing error, the book languished, unused and unappreciated, for two decades; it was saved from obscurity by an alert scholar in 1996. Since its recent discovery, Pulter's book has excited much attention from book historians and literary specialists. Calling herself "the nobel Hadassas" (Hebrew, "Esther"; variant, "Hester"), Pulter writes in a domestic vein as a mother of fifteen children; she also writes as an ardent Stuart royalist. But the best of her work exists in a wholly different dimension, as when she explores the astral plane of comets, planets, and (yes) extraterrestrials ("Mee thinks I play at football withe the stars"). It was this thrilling attachment to other worlds and meta-realities (the New Astronomy) which evidently saved Hester Pulter from debilitating depression. This essay will also discuss Eardley's editorial methodology and challenges as she transferred a dedicated body of writings from the manuscript medium into quite another: print. A Gallery of Images is included. Displayed here, alongside the top board of Pulter's book, is a contemporary woodcut of the curious Su creature of Patagonia, praised in Pulter's ["Poem 57"]. < Click here for essay. >  


Posted On: 2016-11-08 16:14
User Name: alice185

Many thanks for this essay; it's both moving and incisive. Moving, in its account of a woman who imagined playing at football with the stars while burying thirteen of her fifteen children, and incisive in its thoughts on the editorial challenges of work with this text and on possible avenues for further research on Pulter. Mulvihill's thoughts on editorial method are broadly applicable, and could provide guidance for work on many kinds of text. And, as always, a fine selection of well-annotated images. This is a fascinating series.


Posted On: 2016-11-08 18:07
User Name: mairin111

Posting for Seth Sherman, Collector.
Los Angeles, CA. / Tel Aviv, Israel.
__

Hello, everyone, and thanks for posting this (am traveling, out of patience with Sign-ins).
So this is an immersive treatment of the Hester Pulter subject (an ordinary woman with extraordinary gifts); and I really like the exquisite information on the physical properties of her 17th-c. book in Leeds UK. Maureen, thank you very much for all the care -- you went the distance. And the artistic design, the taste & aesthetics of the piece, are impressive. The images + your notes on each one -- wonderful. The section on scholarly editing (the steps) blew me away; talk about concision! The whole approach in this piece is fair & balanced, not overly critical or severe; the short-list of negatives is gently managed & useful. This series has inspired me to create a dedicated section on Women Writers in my bookstore, opening in Tel Aviv, Spring 2017, if the financials work out. So big thanks here to Mr McKinney, Rare Book Hub, and to M. Mulvehill for all they're giving us. Be well, my friends, Seth Sherman, L.A. / Tel Aviv. 8th Nov 2016.
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Posted On: 2016-11-10 19:17
User Name: mairin111

Posting for Rachel Weisberg,
Via Skype, Berkeley, CA. 10th November 2016.
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Thanks, Rare Book Hub, for putting up my words here. Am not a member of this community, but Seth Sherman in L.A., who posted, below, mentioned this piece to me. Maureen, thanks for this essay (amazing to me!). It is quite specialized, out of my field entirely, but I admire all that you did, especially the information on that 17thCentury rare book in Leeds, England, and all the (dazzling) images. The birthing chamber image gave me new ideas, new directions for a project i'm working on. And those 2 emblems you included (the unicorn and that adorable Su critter) -- how enchanting. An inspired piece of work! Grateful to know about this Guest Series, hope to see more treatments like this from your Princeton and Rare Book Hub colleagues. All the best, R. Weisberg, Berkeley, 10 November 2016.
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Posted On: 2016-11-15 15:38
User Name: mairin111

Posting for Dr Lorna Clark
Editor, The Burney Letter (The Frances Burney Society)
Carleton University, Ottawa
< https://carleton.ca/english/people/clark-lorna/ >
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This is an excellent Guest Series. Part II, “The Book of Hester: Editing an Uncanonical Text”, gives a useful introduction to Alice Eardley’s edition of Pulter (2014), a modernized print edition of Pulter’s writings, consisting of some 120 poems and an unfinished prose narrative. Preserved in a bound book of manuscripts that was recently acquired by Leeds University Library, they were “rediscovered” in 1996. Dr Mulvihill gives the background to the edition and a fascinating summary of Pulter’s life. Her section on 'Editing an Uncanonical Literary Manuscript' would be useful as a stand-alone short guide to the entire process of editing. An evaluation of the strengths and omissions of the edition is deftly done. “A Gallery of images” enriches the essay and makes some of the main points more vividly. We look forward to reading more essays in this Guest Series and we stand to learn much from them. Submitted to Rare Book Hub by Dr Lorna Clark, 15th November 2016. (Thank you for posting.)
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Rare Book Monthly

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