I have to say that I’m divided on this “issue” of personalizing the text. On
one level, of course, all reading is a personalizing of the text read and
that making of physical adjustments — rendering passages in boldface,
highlighting — can be seen to be but an extension of what the reading
sensibility does as a matter of course. So what makes me nervous? I suppose
I’m worried that these little kinds of customizings are just the first
step, and that before long the text will be seen as a kind of putty that
one plays with however one fancies. I mean, why stop at boldfacing — why
not delete tedious passages that interfere with the enjoyment, and why not
use a translation program that finds Roget’s synonyms for hard words? I’m
only joking a little. The question is whether or not we continue to grant a
text its sovereignty; whether we hold that there is an ultimate intended
version. (I know, I know — we’ve been reading a corrupt Ulysses for
decades…) This also bear on the status of the author in literary and
academic culture. The author secures whatever status she has as the
generator of the text. When the text is seen to be malleable then what
happens to the author? I’m interested in views on this.

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