Genetic Criticism

"A valuable introduction to the possibilities and perspectives opened up by the study of literary manuscripts and will leave readers curious to discover more about this important and growing field."—Romanic Review

Genetic Criticism
Texts and Avant-textes

Edited by Jed Deppman, Daniel Ferrer, and Michael Groden

2004 | 272 pages | Cloth $69.95
Literature
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Table of Contents

Editors' Note

1. Introduction: A Genesis of French Genetic Criticism
2. Genetic Criticism: Origins and Perspectives
—Louis Hay
3. Psychoanalytic Reading and the Avant-texte
—Jean Bellemin-Noël
4. Toward a Science of Literature: Manuscript Analysis and the Genesis of the Work
—Pierre-Marc de Biasi
5. Flaubert's "A Simple Heart," or How to Make an Ending: A Study of the Manuscripts
—Raymonde Debray Genette
6. With a Live Hand: Three Versions of Textual Transmission (Chateaubriand, Montaigne, Stendhal)
—Jacques Neefs
7. Genetic Criticism and Cultural History: Zola's Rougon-Macquart Dossiers
—Henri Mitterand
8. Paragraphs in Expansion (James Joyce)
—Daniel Ferrer and Jean-Michel Rabaté
9. Still Lost Time: Already the Text of the Recherche
—Almuth Grésillon
10. Proust's "Confession of a Young Girl": Truth or Fiction?
—Catherine Viollet
11. Auto-Genesis: Genetic Studies of Autobiographical Texts
—Philippe Lejeune
12. Hypertext—Memories—Writing
—Jean-Louis Lebrave

Index
Acknowledgments


Excerpt [uncorrected, not for citation]

Introduction
Daniel Ferrer and Michael Groden

"Nothing is more beautiful than a beautiful manuscript draft. . . . A complete poem would be the poem of a Poem starting from its fertilized embryo—and its successive states, unexpected interpolations, and approximations. That's real Genesis."—Paul Valéry (Cahiers 15:480-81; Cahiers/Notebooks, "Poetry" 2:219)

"Manuscripts have something new to tell us: it is high time we learned to make them speak."—Louis Hay, "History or Genesis?" (Drafts 207)

The eleven essays in Genetic Criticism: Texts and Avant-textes represent a French literary critical movement called critique génétique, or "genetic criticism." As the volume's editors, we faced an embarrassment of riches when we made our selections, for thirty years of activity had produced a wealth of essays and a variety of strains in the movement. To indicate its diversity, we chose general, theoretical analyses as well as studies of individual authors, and, since we also wished to emphasize the movement's foundations rather than its latest developments, we included many that belong to its early years. Even with these essays, however, we aimed to represent a range of issues that French genetic critics currently tend to deal with, the problems they see, the approaches and models they apply, and the observations and conclusions they make when they look at and listen to manuscripts. None of the essays has previously been translated, yet some have already become classics in France. Since interest in the materiality of texts is now strong in the English-speaking world, we think that Genetic Criticism has the potential to open up new perspectives and broaden the audience for genetic criticism.

This introduction outlines the development of French genetic criticism in relation to its intellectual and institutional contexts. It also presents some of genetic criticism's main approaches and theoretical terms and describes the important role played by the Institut des Textes et Manuscrits Modernes (ITEM) in its development.

In 1977, Louis Hay considered French genetic criticism to be a "new field of research" and wrote that among the "fairy Godmothers" present at its birth the most powerful was "the spirit of paradox" ("La Critique génétique" 227; see page [Hay p. 4] below). A quarter of a century later, genetic criticism remains paradoxical. It aims to restore a temporal dimension to the study of literature, but it cannot be identified with or derived from traditional literary history or New Historicism. It includes features of reception criticism but is mainly concerned with how texts are produced. Unlike Pierre Bourdieu's sociological dismissals of literary phenomena or psychocriticism's reductively psychoanalytic accounts of them, it remains deeply aware of the text's aesthetic dimensions, and yet it is ever ready to accommodate the agency of sociological forces or psychoanalytic drives into its accounts. It grows out of a structuralist and poststructuralist notion of "text" as an infinite play of signs, but it accepts a teleological model of textuality and constantly confronts the question of authorship. Like old-fashioned philology or textual criticism, it examines tangible documents such as writers' notes, drafts, and proof corrections, but its real object is something much more abstract—not the existing documents but the movement of writing that must be inferred from them. Then, too, it remains concrete, for it never posits an ideal text beyond those documents but rather strives to reconstruct, from all available evidence, the chain of events in a writing process.

As a literary theory and practice, genetic criticism is a true child of the French structuralist movement that bloomed in the 1960s and 1970s, and yet it has not only survived Roland Barthes' death, Tzvetan Todorov's retreat into ethics, and Gérard Genette's passage from narratology to general aesthetics, it is only now reaching maturity. It cooperates closely with many different forms of literary study—narratology, linguistic analysis, psychoanalytic approaches of various kinds, sociocriticism, deconstruction, gender theory, etc.—but at the same time refuses to see itself as what René Wellek and Austin Warren once called the "preliminary labours" of criticism and scholarship (57). It is a form of criticism of its own.

Even Hay's claim that it is "high time" to make manuscripts speak is paradoxical, for critics have known for a long time that manuscripts are worth looking at. Joseph Spence speculated in 1730 that it would be useful "for a poet, to compare in those parts what was written first, with the successive alterations; to learn his turns and arts in versification; and to consider the reasons why such and such an alteration was made" (qtd. Gibson vii), and Samuel Johnson remarked in 1779 that "it is pleasant to see great works in their seminal state, pregnant with latent possibilities of excellence; nor could there be any more delightful entertainment than to trace their gradual growth and expansion, and to observe how they are sometimes suddenly advanced by accidental hints, and sometimes slowly improved by steady meditation" (Selected Poetry and Prose 407). In the nineteenth century the genetic outlook grew more complex, as we see in Madame de Staël's 1800 claim that since "each correction supposes a mass of ideas which decide the mind often without our knowing it . . . one could compose a treatise on style based on the manuscripts of great writers" or in Friedrich Schlegel's 1804 assertion that "one can only claim to have real understanding of a work, or of a thought, when one can reconstitute its becoming and its composition. This intimate comprehension . . . constitutes the very object and essence of criticism" (see page [Hay p. 5] below).

Surely the best-known of all pre-twentieth-century pronouncements of this kind comes from Edgar Allan Poe's 1846 "The Philosophy of Composition," which Charles Baudelaire translated a decade later as "Genèse d'un poème" [Genesis of a poem] and which stands as one of the foundational texts of French genetic criticism. Poe calls for an author "who would—that is to say, who could—detail, step by step, the processes by which any one of his compositions attained its ultimate point of completion" (743) and then methodically fulfills his own request for a reconstruction of the poetic process by analyzing "The Raven." Working from the premise that an artist's first task is always to choose the desired effect, he explains how he settled on such elements as the poem's length, its tone of sadness, the central detail of the raven, the versification, the setting, and the word "nevermore" in the refrain. Crucially, Poe counters the assumption that poets "compose by a species of fine frenzy—an ecstatic intuition" (743) by describing his own writing process as mechanical and devoid of problems or complications. In contrast to the inspirational and organic conceptions of literary creation that were popular with the Romantics, Poe's account is a pure example of what Almuth Grésillon later called "constructivism" (108), i.e., the view that poets are like craftsmen or skilled workers who learn rules and know when and how to break them.

By the middle of the twentieth century, critics often shared Donald A. Stauffer's opinion that manuscripts are valuable only in relation to the finished work: "What light . . . does the composition of a poem throw upon its meaning and its beauty? What difficulties in a finished poem may be explained, what pointless ambiguities dispelled, what purposeful ambiguities sharpened, by references found in its earlier states?" (Poets at Work 43-44). Very few, thought most mid-century critics, for they agreed with T.S. Eliot that "a knowledge of the springs which released a poem is not necessarily a help toward understanding the poem: too much information about the origins of the poem may even break [one's] contact with it" (112). And they also concurred with Wellek and Warren's view that "drafts, rejections, exclusions, and cuts" are "not, finally, necessary to an understanding of the finished work or to a judgement upon it. Their interest is that of any alternative, i.e. they may set into relief the qualities of the final text" (91).

Such a critical paradigm was not conducive to manuscript studies, but some were carried out nonetheless. A few 1950s precursors of modern French genetic criticism can be named: Pierre Clarac, Marie-Jeanne Durry, Alain Ferré, Claudine Gothot-Mersch, Bernard Guyon, René Journet, Gabrièle Leleu, Jean Levaillant, Octave Nadal, Jean Pommier, Robert Ricatte, Guy Robert, and André Vial. For the most part, though—perhaps because they focused unquestioningly on what they took to be the author's conscious intentions, perhaps because they assumed too straight a teleological drive towards the published work—their theoretical and methodological influence on later genetic criticism proved to be negligible, much smaller than that of the subsequent structuralist and poststructuralist movements.

Paralleling French manuscript studies from the 1950s were those from English-speaking scholars. In 1948, a book called Poets at Work featured original essays by Rudolf Arnheim, W.H. Auden, Karl Shapiro, and Stauffer based on manuscripts in the University of Buffalo's collection. The volume inaugurated the university's Poetry Collection and its new and then-unique gathering of poets' "worksheets" (as the collection's librarian, Charles D. Abbott, called them). In the 1963 collection Poems in the Making, Walker Gibson published statements about the writing process from poets and critics ranging from Spence, Pope, Coleridge, Keats, and Poe to Eliot, I.A. Richards, Shapiro, Stephen Spender, and Kenneth Burke. Manuscript-based studies of individual writers also began to appear in the 1950s and 1960s, and some of them became quite prominent in the scholarship of those authors. Some examples are Mary Visick, The Genesis of "Wuthering Heights" (1958); John Paterson, The Making of "The Return of the Native" (1960); A. Walton Litz, The Art of James Joyce: Method and Design in "Ulysses" and "Finnegans Wake" (1961); David Hayman, A First-Draft Version of "Finnegans Wake" (1963); Jon Stallworthy, Between the Lines: Yeats's Poetry in the Making (1963); Curtis Bradford, Yeats at Work (1965); Michael Groden, "Ulysses" in Progress (1977); Helen Gardner, The Composition of "Four Quartets" (1978); and Ralph W. Franklin, The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson (1981). Like their French counterparts, these detailed English-language studies were more of a historical backdrop to the French genetic movement of the 1970s than an active source for it. They tended to be pragmatic and not theoretically self-conscious, to consider textuality and intention as unproblematic, and to see the manuscripts exclusively in relation to the subsequent published work. In Italy, the "critica delle varianti" [criticism of variants] of Gianfranco Contini and his followers was more theoretically nuanced, but it too failed to influence French genetic criticism directly.

The decisive fertilizing influence (and necessary foil) was the complex conception of text introduced by structuralism and poststructuralism in the 1960s and 1970s. Emphasizing the textile etymology of textus over and against associations with the sacred or profane authority of the immutable written word, theorists such as Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida saw texts as mobile, multistranded, and overflowing with referential codes. Barthes suggestively described a text as "held in language," a "methodological field," a "weave" of signifiers, a "network," a "force of subversion," "plural," and "caught up in a discourse" in contrast to the literary "work" as "held in the hand," a "fragment of substance," and an "object of a science of the letter, of philology" ("From Work to Text" 57-61). Genetic criticism took up the notion of writing's mobility but observed that a text conceived as methodologically separate from its origins and from its material incarnation can lead to a paradoxical sacralization and idealization of it as The Text. According to Hay, what we are actually confronted with is "not The Text, but texts" ("Does 'Text' Exist?" 73).

The idea that many texts exist within any text is clearly reminiscent of the postructuralist idea that all texts are fields of free-playing signifiers. However, Hay and most other geneticists do not unqualifiedly endorse that view, for they privilege historical development and context in contrast to a conception of a synchronous or timelessly present text. Like New Historicism, French genetic criticism attempts to restore a temporal dimension to texts; it does so not only by looking for the influence of external social, economic, and cultural circumstances on the text, but also by reading the text's own history, a history that takes into account those external forces and the way they interact—differently in every case—with the text's development.

Thus, for geneticists, instead of a fixed, finished object in relation to which all previous states are considered, a given text becomes—or texts become—the contingent manifestations of a diachronous play of signifiers. "The writing," as Hay has put it, "is not simply consummated in the written work. Perhaps we should consider the text as a necessary possibility, as one manifestation of a process which is always virtually present in the background, a kind of third dimension of the written work" ("Does 'Text' Exist?" 75). Similarly, in their introduction to Drafts—an issue of Yale French Studies devoted to genetic criticism—Michel Contat, Denis Hollier, and Jacques Neefs have written that "the work now stands out against a background, and a series, of potentialities. Genetic criticism is contemporaneous with an esthetic of the possible".

This idea of genesis as an open-ended aesthetic, or logic, of possibilities is itself a current critical state in an ongoing historical process. As we have suggested, literary history is peppered with authors whose statements and writing practices have explicitly invited critics to relate their finished texts to genetic processes. Again, Poe's "Philosophy of Composition" seems to call for and exemplify a kind of genetic criticism, but it is important to note that his methodical reconstruction of "The Raven" is utterly unlike such criticism in its modern form, for it describes genesis as purely mental and dismisses preliminary drafts as the ugly locus of "cautious selections and rejections" and "painful erasures and interpolations" (743). Genetic criticism owes debts of many kinds to Poe, but it exploits precisely the resources that he abjured: the foul papers covered with additions, replacements, and erasures.

Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-98) and Paul Valéry (1871-1945), who considered themselves to be disciples of Poe, are more direct ancestors. For Mallarmé the literary work was essentially open; it depended more on the structural indeterminacy of language than on the univocality of a speaking or reading subject. Engineering the disappearance of the subject and recalibrating traditional relationships of texts to time and space, Mallarmé made heavy use of musical, rhythmic, ideographic, and other multivalent aspects of language. The result was a complex poetics that was less wedded to Poe's concepts of mimesis, authorial or readerly control, and emotional response than to the suggestive and symbolic powers of language. As his writings were relayed through modernism and postmodernism, they created the conditions of possibility for books that celebrate the many signifying states and auras of texts—one example is Francis Ponge's 1971 La Fabrique du "Pré" [The Making of the Pré], a work that reproduced in facsimile all the drafts of a single poem.

Valéry, for his part, helped shift aesthetic interest from product to production. "Creating a poem is itself a poem," he wrote, and at times explicitly subordinated the product to the process: "The making, as the main thing, and whatever product is constructed as accessory, that's my idea." Valéry found fascinating technical and intellectual complexity in the creative process. "Composition itself," he wrote, can be considered "as a dance, as fencing, as the construction of acts and expectations" (1922; Cahiers 8:578; Cahiers/Notebooks, "Ego Scriptor" 2:475). His interest in process rather than product provides a theoretical backdrop for genetic criticism's focus on interpreting composition and the creative process.

One might well ask what ultimately brought the Mallarméan and Valéryan conceptions of text and genesis to the fore in the late 1960s. How, in other words, did "manuscript studies" become "genetic criticism"? A combination of historical circumstances can help explain it. One factor has already been mentioned—at the time, a new conception of textuality was developing in France. Another is that a renewed drive to collect and preserve manuscripts was then spreading across Europe. Such collections had begun to accumulate in the nineteenth century, and authors' archives had been important cultural institutions since at least 1885, when the Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv was established in Weimar, Germany; that was also the year that Victor Hugo died and bequeathed all his manuscripts to the Bibliothèque Nationale. However, a decisive turning point in the history of genetic criticism was the Bibliothèque Nationale's acquisition of an important collection of Heinrich Heine manuscripts in 1966. This purchase could have been just one more addition to the rich holdings of the Département des Manuscrits if it had not occurred in the climate of political turmoil, intellectual excitement, and critical renewal that characterized the late 1960s. On the occasion of this purchase, Louis Hay, who would soon be appointed head of a small team of young scholars charged with studying the archive, published in the national press a short article—"Des manuscrits, pour quoi faire?" [Manuscripts: So what?']—that was both defensive and programmatic. He wasted no time with traditional scholarly justifications but instead took a position relative to structuralism and the nouvelle critique. He argued that studying the final text is not the only legitimate approach and should be complemented by genetic analysis. For instance, a word can be compared to a text's other words but also to alternate words that the author tried in the same position. After this allusion to the paradigmatic and the syntagmatic axes, so prominent in the thought of the time, Hay introduced the idea of a work's "genetic structure" and then affirmed that the creative process is itself a worthwhile object for literary studies. With great foresight, he concluded that the manuscript work about to begin would open up new perspectives not only on Heine but also on scholarly and critical methods themselves.

Because it is a thorough methodological and theoretical reflection as well as a self-contained case study, Jean Bellemin-Noël's 1972 book Le Texte et l'avant-texte: Les brouillons d'un poème de Milosz [The text and the avant-texte: The rough drafts of a poem by Milosz] can be considered the true beginning of modern French genetic criticism. This book appeared the year after Francis Ponge's La Fabrique du Pré, and it is significant that both books—one by a poet, the other by a critic—proceed from a new attention to manuscripts and to the writing process. For poets as well as critics, manuscripts were becoming more than objects to be collected on the dusty shelves of an archive or sources for footnoted variants; more and more, they were documents to be exhibited, read, enjoyed, and investigated critically.

By 1972 the intellectual background in France had become decidedly poststructuralist, and while Bellemin-Noël acknowledged the scholars who had worked on manuscripts in the 1950s and 1960s, he dismissed their efforts politely as misguided: they were concerned too much with the conscious intentions of the author and not enough with the dynamics of writing. The key theoretical problem, he suggested, lay in their conceptions of the subject, the sign, and the text. (Although Barthes, Derrida, and Lacan were not named in the essay as models for new conceptions, their presence was palpable.) He argued that draft material should be studied in entirely new ways:

The point is to show to what extent poems write themselves despite, or even against, authors who believe they are implementing their writerly craft; to find any uncontrolled (perhaps uncontrollable) forces that were mobilized without the author's knowledge and resulted in a structure; to reconstruct the operations by which, in order to form itself, something transformed itself, all the while forming that locus of transformation of meaning that we call a text.

Such an ambitious program required a new critical vocabulary. It seemed important, especially, to do away with the philological notion of "variant," which implies one text with alternative formulations. To make a clean break, Bellemin-Noël used the neologism "avant-texte" to designate all the documents that come before a work when it is considered as a text and when those documents and the text are considered as part of a system. This proposal has been generally and enthusiastically accepted: the term "avant-texte" has become the hallmark of the new approach and is used by geneticists of all persuasions. They use the term in somewhat different ways, some more precisely than others, but "avant-texte" always carries with it the assumption that the material of textual genetics is not a given but rather a critical construction elaborated in relation to a postulated terminal—so-called "definitive"—state of the work.

Armed with theoretical foundations and the first lineaments of a method, genetic criticism seemed poised for a promising career. But it might never have caught on had it not found the right kind of institutional support. As the original Heine unit became the Centre d'Analyse des Manuscrits (CAM), and CAM evolved into ITEM, a structure emerged that made collaborative research possible. The Heine team, led by Louis Hay, joined forces with groups working on Proust, Zola, and Flaubert. Bellemin-Noël's affinities with psychoanalysis were complemented by Claude Duchet and Henri Mitterand's sociocritical point of view and Raymonde Debray Genette's narratological approach. Professors and young academics from various universities started cooperating with ITEM's few full-time researchers and research assistants as the CNRS became a kind of neutral ground for a common intellectual enterprise. Other teams were added, devoted to new authors (Valéry, Joyce, Sartre) or to "transversal" subjects, such as the linguistic study of manuscripts, the genetic study of autobiographies, and hypertextual genetic editions.

In 1994, when geneticists and theorists and practitioners of textual criticism gathered together for a conference at Columbia University, the question was asked whether genetic criticism had any existence independent from ITEM, or whether it was simply a Parisian fad kept alive by the support of a state agency (Compagnon 395). Those favorable to genetic criticism met this skeptical query with the observation that over a period of three decades, a true fad would have gone out of fashion, whatever its institutional support; genetic criticism would have not risen to prominence did it not possess its own theoretical and practical strengths and possibilities, and it could easily have faded away even with the backing of ITEM.

On the other hand, it would be naive to think that institutions have no influence on ideas. Over three decades the CNRS structure has provided the stability necessary to unite scholars working on different authors, using diverging critical approaches, and having little in common but an interest in the writing process. Beyond the uncertainties of university appointments, individual careers, and personal choices, researchers from very different circumstances (and different countries) have been able to look up from the absorbing tasks involved in deciphering manuscripts, reflect upon them, and contribute to a methodology and a theory in progress.

From the start, geneticists envisioned a project that would go beyond individual projects and towards, if not a generalized, at least a comparative study of writing practices. All along they sought ways to account for historical and generic parameters as well as authorial idiosyncrasies (Bellemin-Noël 13). Moreover, because the nature of manuscript study makes it very difficult for individual scholars to be conversant with different archives, several kinds of collective study were developed to allow them to compare and synthesize their findings. The different ITEM teams periodically convene in a general seminar, usually for a year or two, in order to study a problem of general interest: unfinished manuscripts, beginnings, writers' notes, the semiotics of drafts, etc. Many of these seminars have resulted in published collections of essays.

The fact that ITEM is part of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), the French national center for scientific research, has had other consequences as well. It encouraged an early interest in computer-assisted genetic editions and hypertexts, and it also helped facilitate studies of the material aspects of manuscripts, such as papers and watermarks, and authors' "hands." The result has been a happy counterbalance to Bellemin-Noël's indispensable inaugural gesture of positing the avant-texte as a critical construction abstracted from the amorphous mass of actual documents. It has kept genetic criticism in touch with the materiality of the manuscript and the wealth of nontextual information it contains and at the same time has prevented it from falling into naïve positivism. Whatever it may do, however sophisticated the instruments it may employ, genetic criticism can never be a Galilean empirical science; rather, it will always belong to what Carlo Ginzburg has called the "indexical paradigm," i.e., a model that bases itself on the interpretation of clues rather than the deduction of universal laws and on qualitative rather than quantitative assessment.

Today, genetic criticism is sometimes assimilated to a form of textual criticism, or automatically assumed to be a branch of it, but genetic criticism clearly suggests that manuscripts can be used for purposes other than those of textual criticism—that is, for reasons other than establishing an accurate text of a work. Enough overlap exists that the similarities and differences between the two activities should be briefly discussed. Their relationships remain complex. One reason is that the German-, English-, and French-language traditions of textual of textual criticism and editing have been dominated by different models. In Germany, the primary model and test case has been Goethe, who published his works in different versions and preserved many manuscripts; there, genetic editing dominates and produces scholarly editions establishing texts' prepublication stages. In England and the United States, the model and test case has been Shakespeare, who left no manuscripts at all and only problematical published texts during his lifetime; there, an eclectic model has developed in which the editor chooses one state of the text as the copytext and then emends the copytext on the basis of other authoritative states. (According to W.W. Greg's "The Rationale of Copy-Text," editors choose copytext-states mainly in order to have systems of authors' accidentals: spelling, punctuation, etc.). In France, where the problems and issues have centered on Old French texts, what is known as "best text" editing has dominated: the editor applies scholarly tools to determine which existing text is most accurate and then reprints that text as the edition. There is almost no connection between the "best text" model in French editing and genetic criticism, although both resist conflating different states into a new eclectic text. Anglo-American copytext editing is only somewhat more congenial to genetic criticism, for its overarching goal of establishing a single conflated text tends to subsume all variation into an accuracy-vs.-error dichotomy. German genetic editing, since it retains the temporal dynamics of the writing process and often does not attempt to produce a single edited text, is most compatible, and genetic critics have turned to it more than to any other form of textual criticism.

Nonetheless, even the connection with German genetic editing is tenuous, since the final goal of French genetic criticism is not to produce a printable text but rather, as the essays in this volume do in very different and intriguing ways, to seize and describe a movement, a process of writing that can only be approximately inferred from the existing documents. Genetic criticism comes closest to textual criticism when it presents—edits—a manuscript or part of a document for presentation in print, but this presentation is only part of a broader goal of reconstructing and analyzing a chain of writing events.

While textual criticism is concerned with repetition (it studies the ways in which one stage in the writing process develops, with varying degrees of accuracy, into the next one), genetic criticism could be defined as the study of textual invention, and as such it is concerned precisely with what is not repetition. Such a statement must be immediately qualified in many ways: there can be no such thing as pure invention (if there were, it would lie outside the scope of any science or criticism), so genetic criticism actually confronts a dialectic of invention and repetition. To put it simply, a textual critic will tend to see a difference between two states of a work in terms of accuracy and error or corruption, whereas a genetic critic will see meaningful variation. Although both scholarly activities deal with manuscripts and textual versions, their aims are quite different. Rather than trying to establish texts, genetic criticism actually destabilizes the notion of "text" and shakes the exclusive hold of the textual model. One could even say that genetic criticism is not concerned with texts at all but only with the writing processes that engender them. From this point of view, texts could be compared provocatively to the ashes remaining when a fire is consumed or to the footprints on the ground after a dance is over. But there is nothing mystical in the activities of genetic criticism, which pursues an immaterial object (a process) through the concrete analysis of the material traces left by that process.

In the 35 years since Louis Hay argued in Le Monde that the creative process is worth studying, genetic critics have heeded his call to learn to make manuscripts "speak." In that time, not surprisingly, the "real Genesis" celebrated by Valéry has assumed many different forms and the manuscripts have started to speak in different voices. Indeed, genetic criticism has already passed through a number of stages, and some of its current interests and trends could not have been predicted when the earliest essays in this collection were written. For instance, whereas early genetic criticism focused almost exclusively on canonical authors, recent work—as in that devoted to autobiographies—has included non-canonical and anonymous authors. (See Philippe Lejeune's essay in this volume.) Also, as Jean-Louis Lebrave indicates in his essay, genetic critics have become intrigued by hypertext and the ways in which linked electronic presentation can enhance the representation of complex manuscript archives. Occasionally, the archive itself has grown and spurred new research; for example, the huge new collection of Joyce manuscripts acquired by the National Library of Ireland in May 2002 has significantly changed the avant-texte for Ulysses and promises to affect Joyce studies in ways that no material documents have been able to do for almost half a century. In other cases, long available documents are being looked at anew; genetic critics have been studying certain authors' notebooks for decades (see Pierre-Marc de Biasi's edition of Flaubert's Carnets de travail or the ongoing "Finnegans Wake" Notebooks at Buffalo project), but such studies are now becoming part of a more systematic and comparative investigation of the interaction between authors' readings and their writings, an investigation that rests at the interface between genetic work and reception studies.

According to Jean-Michel Rabaté, a new kind of reader has started to emerge in this multifaceted genetic activity: an "ideal genetic reader" or "genreader." This reader is not merely a decoder of textual signals, a detached consciousness, or an emotional being, but rather a kind of "textual agent" who reads texts "in the context of an expanding archive" (196) in order to see both how they are written and how they are read. The eleven essays in Genetic Criticism have already done much to create such readers. Perhaps these translations imply that, with them, we are all (ideally) becoming genetic critics now.

The collection begins with Louis Hay's overview of genetic criticism and continues with Jean Bellemin-Noël's essay on the value of a psychoanalytic approach to genetic study. Pierre-Marc de Biasi's encyclopedia article, which spells out the principles and procedures of genetic study, closes the opening trio of general studies.

Next come six essays on the texts and avant-textes of specific authors. Raymonde Debray Genette studies the manuscripts of Flaubert's "A Simple Heart" to see how he crafted its ending; Jacques Neefs compares and contrasts the ideas Chateaubriand, Montaigne, and Stendhal had about the posthumous fate of their writings; Henri Mitterand inscribes Zola's Rougon-Macquart writings into their author's personal circumstances as well as broader cultural contexts; Daniel Ferrer and Jean-Michel Rabaté study the way Joyce manipulated and modernized the structure of the literary paragraph; closing this middle section, Almuth Grésillon and Catherine Viollet use concepts from linguistics to analyze Proust's manuscripts, Grésillon taking up issues of temporality and Viollet concentrating on gender and sexuality.

The volume ends with essays on topics of recent interest to geneticists. Philippe Lejeune addresses the paradox of reading autobiographies for their avant-textes, and Jean-Louis Lebrave argues that the theory of hyptertexts has now reached the point where it can provide new and more accurate models for genetic studies, even of centuries-old manuscripts.

Jed Deppman has written separate introductions that outline each author's career and discuss each essay's specific purposes, methods, and arguments.