Reprint of the first edition. Most of the major works of English literature are readily available today only in versions that are sadly inadequate. There are few reliable specialist editions; much worse, the majority of the paperback texts of English and American authors that are sold in their millions to students and general readers are corrupt and misleading. This is as unnecessary as it is undesirable. By combining a critical judgement with an understanding of textual bibliography, an editor can establish a "critical text" that is as authoritative as the evidence allows and present it in the form best suited to the intended audience. The examples given in this book show how this may be done. Dr. Gaskell presents extracts from the early texts of twelve works of literature. He has chosen them not only because of their importance as works of art but also on account of the quantity and variety of the surviving textual evidence; and so, by skillfully following each extract through its surviving stages from writer to reader, he encompasses a variety of subjects and treatments.