Dear Carlos on "Silent Editing"
Jul 12, 2006 01:20 PM
Below is what I wrote on Theos-Talk a little
more than a month ago when Carlos wanted
to bring this topic up.
Carlos Aveline quotes Ernest Pelletier about my book
THE ESOTERIC WORLD OF MADAME BLAVATSKY:
However, there are negative aspects to this book
that need mention. There has been much silent editing
done which renders the contents of this book
impractical to quote from. While eliminating certain
`irrelevant' portions of the text may not necessarily
affect context, it is important to know (and from
what I understand, it is also a legal requirement –
at least in Canada – to indicate) where changes have
been made to the original text. Silent editing
sets a precedent which eventually will erode the
authenticity of the whole theosophical literature.
Knowing this, one wonders why this respected historian
who has promoted and defended HPB would be compelled
to compromise the integrity and accuracy of historical
Unfortunately, at least from this quotation, some may think
that this "silent editing" has been done without me
telling the reader.
Yet in my preface (ix) to ESOTERIC WORLD, I write:
The narratives have been transcribed from the original
sources with spelling and punctuation modernized. For
people's names, the spelling used in HPB's Collected
Writings (vols. 1 and 15) has been adopted. Material not
relevant to the immediate narrative has been silently
deleted. The original texts, however, can be found from
the bibliographical references. Explanatory notes added
by the editor are enclosed within square brackets.
As regards Pelletier's comment about scholars or authors
who want to quote material. It is my opinion that scholars
should go to the original source or at least go to an
unabridged unedited reprint of an article or text.
In my book I wanted to tell the story of HPB's life or at
least some of the story and I wanted to give readers the opportunity
to read some of the original stories, reminiscences by the actual
people who knew her, etc. At the same time I edited the text so
the flow of the story moved, etc.
In the first edition of my book THE OCCULT WORLD OF MADAME
BLAVATSKY, I used the three dots ... to indicate all omissions of
text. Even before this first edition was published some of my
coworkers who had read drafts of the manuscript complained about the
dots. That the dots got in the way of the story. At that time I
ignored this advice about deleting the dots ... . When TPH Wheaton
wanted to publish a second revised edition with additional text
added, the dot (...) problem was brought up again. The readability
issue was discussed back and forth with the publisher and with some
of my friends and coworkers, finally I decided that I would not use
the dots ... for readability.
Was that a mistake? I don't know. But I don't really think so.
Again interested readers, scholars and authors who want to explore
the subject more or who want to quote texts are encouraged to go to
the original sources.
My intent again was to give readers a "taste" of all the wonderful
narratives telling about HPB's life. And I also tried to quote very
rare and hard to find material. You will find in my book material
that has never been reprinted since it was first published (in some
cases more than 100 years ago).
Some of this material (especially) the rare material has been
published on my website unabridged and unedited.
And one of my projects is to publish a book (currently projected
at 600 pages) of original text about HPB .... unabridged and
Of course, I 'm sure this explanation will not satisfy Mr. Aveline.
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