An Edition of The Rover

An Edition of The Rover
This project grew out of an exercise designed primarily to give
graduate students practical experience in the processes of textual
bibliography. It was continued and completed based on two beliefs:
first, that the errors found amoung extant editions are significant
enough to warrant further revision, and second, that the existence of a
text with format and language accessible to modern readers is essential
to the survival of this important work. With these aims in mind, we
have worked to produce an edition of The Rover that respects not only
the believed intentions of the author and the integrity of the earliest
texts, but also the needs and concerns of contemporary students,
teachers, actors, directors, and audiences of all sorts.
The version of the play chosen as the copy text for this edition
was the second issue of the first edition, printed in 1677. The first
comparison text was an issue of the second edition that was printed in
1697. The second comparison text was a 1915 volume edited by Montague
Summers. Summers? text was chosen because it is based primarily upon a
1724 collection of Behn?s dramatic pieces--a collection that, according
to Summers, is "by far the best and most reliable edition of the
collected theater."
Most of the changes documented in the textual notes stem from
substantive discrepancies between these three texts. Often these
discrepancies are the result of words or phrases being inverted from one
edition to another. Note 44, for instance, concerns the stage
directions in a scene where Florinda hugs Belvile and his vizard falls
off. In the earliest edition, the hugging precedes the unmasquing, but
in the 1697 edition, the masque falls off before the embrace. The order
in which these actions are performed have significant consequence for
the audience?s understanding of Florinda?s motivations: is she hugging
Belvile because she thinks he is Belvile, or because she thinks he is
someone else? Other noted discrepancies are cases where words were
omitted in one or more of the editions. In the 1677 and 1915 versions,
for example, Philipo delivers the line in Act III, "Blame me not,
Lucetta"; yet in the 1697 version, the line reads "Blame not Lucetta"
(note 32). Again, the difference is substantial; is Philipo attempting
to shift culpability from himself or from Lucetta? In these cases,
unless the context of the action suggests that the changes of the later
texts were logically sound (see note 61), the copy text was taken as the
authoritative version.
In some instances, accidental changes were also cited in the
textual notes (see notes 28, 58, and 65, for example). Most of these
noted changes highlight differences in punctuation. Although, as will
be discussed below, many changes in punctuation have not been noted,
those where the alteration would affect the inflection and delivery (if
not the very meaning) of a line have been cited.
This text contains many instances of editorial regularization that
are not specifically indicated in the notes following the text.
Capitalization, except in those cases where nouns are personified in
direct address ("Honour" or "Fortune," for instance), has been
standardized for the ease of the modern reader. Excessive commas have
been deleted, and periods have been added at the end of some lines.
Names of characters were regularized where there were inconsistencies
even within a single text (e. g. "Angelica" with one and two "l?s").
Spelling has been similarly regularized. For the most part, for
example, past-tense verbs ending in "t" in the early editions have been
changed to "ed." The expression "whe" is consistently replaced with
"why." "My self" and "your self" have been combined into the modern
compound words throughout. More substantive spelling changes were made
in cases where it seemed outdated orthography could significantly slow
or distract a modern audience. For example, "perswasive" becomes
"persuasive" and "jealousie" becomes "jealousy." Similarly, the final
"k" has been dropped from words such as "rhetorick" and "antick," and
"wou?d" and "cou?d" have been spelled in full. The "-our" endings of
words such as "honour" and "vigour," however, have been left intact --
for though the abbreviated "-or" endings have widely replaced them in
America, the "-our" spellings are still used in contemporary English
After considerable debate among the editors, it was decided that
Behn?s frequent use of contractions ("e?en," "tis," and