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wuthering heights editions
on April 9, 2003
Rather than delve on the contents of this strangest and strongest of English novels, so intensely poetic in its haunting darkness and otherness, I'll comment briefly on the best editions available for a good first contact:
A) Text oriented editions (that is, editions with few materials added: normally an Introduction, annotation, and perhaps Charlotte's Peface and Biographical Notice and some bibliographical indications).
1. Oxford World's Classics: authoritative text, good annotation,
2. Penguin's Classics: same as above, everything looks a little shorter but is excellent nonetheless.
3. Wordsworth Classics edition. This would be a rather fine edition as befitting this collection, if it had a good 1847 text and not the heavily tampered-with Charlotte's 1850 edition. The text itself reflects accurately that of the 1900 Haworth Edition -a careful one-. The wording changes aren't perhaps so worrying nor is the toning-down of the dialectal tirades -although funny and useless-. What is worrying is the disappearance of more than six hundred paragrapph entries (I mean just the paragraphing, not the contents itself!), that makes for a different -and worse- reading experience. Very good and full -if brief- annotation. Mass-market, glued paperback.
4. Heather Glen's for Routledge. One of the finest text-oriented editions, especially for the excellent Introduction and Epilogue together with its good annotation, out-of-print for rather obscure reasons. If you find still a very good to fine copy at amazon Canadian branch (or at abebooks.com, it would be a good buy.
5. Orchises two-volume facsimile reprint of the 1847 edition. No notes nor any additional material. the books are well produced if a little expensive. Very interesting item, but only suitable for textual scholars or would-be scholars, or otherwise for fetish-oriented WH-maniacs.
B) Study-oriented editions (i.e. editions that contain additional contextual information: early reviews, selection of Emily's poems, critical essays, chronologies of the novel or of the Bronte family...).
6. Norton's Fourth Edition (current item): OK, the text is still a little idiosyncratic, but the notes are much improved, and so is everything else (with the anthology of poems, and the critical essays). A very fine study edition but also suitable for a first contact, although annotation is still on the scarce side. Good paperback production without flaps but signature-sewn (or so it seems) and good paper and printing quality (albeit with a rather small type).
7. Broadview edition by Beth Newman: it's one of the best study editions overall. There are some minor textual foibles and the annotation is decidedly scanty (to make amends for Heywood excesses) but good and accurate, and both Prof. Newman ecellent Introduction and the selection of the additional contextual material is, arguably, the finest ever (including the very interesting document on "Brain fever"). Materially speaking, it is a good paperback without flaps with good paper and printing quality (like Norton Critical, although I can't ascertain without tearing apart my copy of Beth Newman's that it be signature-sewn instead of glue-only "perfect binding). In any case a very good buy.
7. Alison Booth's for Longman Cultural. Other of the very best study editions available. The text is deadly acuurate -except for some 1850 unobtrusive detail- on the
Clarendon 1976 reference critical edition, although the punctuation -like Norton Critical, Broadview's Newman and Oneworld's one- has been silently lightened and modernized throughout. It looks like glue-only "perfect binding" paperback, but perhaps it is signature-sewn. Paper and printing quality are good enough. The only misgiving I have is the overdone fragmentation of contextual material (good and relevant material though it is): there are 40+ items, many of them very short or they wouldn't fit into 430 pages. One of the best possible buys.
8. Onewold's Classics edition. A fine paperback edition with flaps, very good paper and printing quality and (I rather surmise than know for sure) signature-sewn. The text looks like 1847 in paragraphing but it takes in too
many of 1850 "improvements" and is wrong at some places: it's short of a disaster, but rather non-reliable (in spite of the well-meant efforts by the almost anonymous editing panel who perpetrated it). Annotation is good and comprehensive enough, but the contextual material is rather scanty and run-of-the-mill non-commital.
9. Barnes&Noble's Tatiana Holway edition (hardcover). To say it promptly the only fault with this lovely edition (but, as stated above in wordsworth Classics edition, a really big fault) is its accurate and reliable 1850 Haworth Edition text. Other than this, it looks as a popularly oriented edition, but with quality marks. The Introduction by Daphne Merkin is good enough, the annotation by Holway is really excellent. Supplementary material is very scanty: the "Charlotte's prefatory materials" of 1850 (prefixed to the text, which is a pity), and some comments about film and TV adaptations as well as some chosen excerpts of reviews. Material production is outstanding: nice hardcover with dust jacket, good paper and printing quality, the only good available edition in a becoming format (Clarendon Edition is very hard to come by nowadays: say one to three years to pin it down). Don't forget the Franklin Mint editions of the sixties and seventies if you are interested in a very beautiful book with a reliable 1847 text and illustrations by Alan Reingold (and nothing else).