Excerpt from The Textual Tradition of Chaucer's Troilus
I have regarded as significant variations all those where the agreement of two mss. In a variant reading could not readily be explained as due to coincidence. It must be remembered that in the tradition of a Chaucerian p... oem one great in¿uence making for corruption operated equally on nearly all scribes of the fifteenth century. This was the linguistic change which rendered mute many unaccented syllables, which in Chaucer's usage preserved full metrical value. Consequent upon this was a general ignorance of Chaucer's metre. Such variations, therefore, as the insertion or omission of which before that, or that after which or how, and in general the insertion or omission of colourless words not vital to the sense, I have usually regarded as not significant. In the same category I have put variations which consist in simple transposi tions of words and phrases within the line, particularly when the transposition results in the substitution of a normal for an inverted order. Such variations must, of course, be taken into account when one comes to the final constitution of a critical text; but on them one cannot safely base any argument for ms. Relation, unless the cases of agreement between two or more mss. In such readings are very numerous.
The problem of presenting the results of my study in such form as to make them most readily comprehensible to the reader has not been an easy one. Because of the length of the poem, and the shifting character of some of the authorities, it has seemed best to present the evidence for each of the five books in a separate chapter, and then to resume the whole in a concluding chapter. This method has the disadvantage of broken continuity as regards single aspects of the discussion; but I am convinced that it makes for greater clearness.
In citing variant readings, the method is this: First is given the reading of the group of mss. Under discussion, followed by all variants of mss. Within the group. Then follows the reading of the rest of the mss., with all variants which may conceivably have any bearing upon the main variation. When a reading is cited as that of more than one ms. It is spelled according to the ms. First named. Unless the variant reading under discussion is that of a group which includes C1, the reading given as that of the rest of the mss. Is in the spelling of Cl. So far as possible.
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