Contents of the archive.

The Jonathan Swift Archive makes available a searchable, digitized collection of texts of Swift’s prose from a great variety of early editions. The texts collected in the archive are documentary transcriptions of Swift's writings as they appear in their original printed editions. The aim has been to include first editions, and, wherever there has been authorial correction, emendation, revision, or alteration to the text in subsequent lifetime editions, to add transcriptions of these later witnesses. Wherever significant textual issues arise in posthumous editions, their texts have been included as well. The archive provides materials for a comprehensive account of the establishment and textual evolution of Jonathan Swift's prose works.

The archive currently contains around 300 texts, with, for example, six editions of Gulliver’s Travels represented, but it is work in progress. Some editions unavailable in UK libraries remain to be collected and transcribed, and we anticipate that, as research on the Cambridge edition of Swift progresses, further desirable materials will be drawn to our attention.

Criteria for inclusion in the archive

While our record of authoritative Swift texts aims to be comprehensive, there are practical limits to its completeness. We identify the specific printed copies from which our digital texts have been transcribed, of course. But we make no effort to record stop-press corrections or typographical variations among other copies of the same edition. Nor do we transcribe every lifetime edition of every text that Swift wrote. Where there is no possibility of authorial influence and no object of critical interest in an edition of a work, we omit that text from the archive.

Currently the archive documents only printed works. Our colleagues who work on the Cambridge Works of Jonathan Swift will include in their volumes transcriptions of both holograph manuscripts and marginal revisions and corrections in printed books. It may be possible to include them with the printed materials at a later stage. Another conspicuous omission from the archive is Swift's poetical works. Again, we hope to add his writings in verse to the archive at a later stage in its development.

Works that earlier editors have consigned to appendices as doubtful attributions are given the same presentational status in the archive as canonical work. We have also included some works by other authors that provide a context for Swift’s own writing. In all such cases, there will be an explanation of the status of the work in the appropriate introduction.

The digital text

The Jonathan Swift Archive is an electronic supplement to the printed Cambridge Works of Jonathan Swift. The editorial methods of CWJS draw on those of classic textual criticism, as rationalized and codified during the twentieth century by W.W. Greg, Fredson Bowers, G. Thomas Tanselle and others. The texts presented by the editors of the CWJS volumes are first established by the choice of an appropriate copy text. This choice is made according to the principle of original authorial intention, in the case of polemical and otherwise punctual works; and according to the principle of final authorial intention, in the case of literary and otherwise unlocalized works. Authorial intention is inferred by the critical analysis of substantive variants, as established by the collation of the copy text against other significant editions of the work, and by the contextual study of the work's composition and development.

The structure of the Jonathan Swift Archive is determined by its supplementary relation to this process of textual criticism. Its purpose is to deepen and extend the account of Swift's texts given in CWJS. However, the information that we record in the archive is not defined or limited by the pursuit of intentional form. It has also a more historical character, and reflects the interest of late-twentieth-century bibliographers in the sociology of texts, and in the study of their material manifestations.

Accordingly, the editors of the archive have approached the canon of Jonathan Swift's writings on a work-by-work basis. The digital files that make up the archive each represent an individual piece of writing – such as 'The Battle of the Books', 'Sentiments of a Church of England Man', or A Modest Proposal. The text contained in an individual file does not necessarily represent an integrated and self-defined bibliographical unit – a broadside, book or pamphlet, for example, such as A tale of a tub. Written for the universal improvement of mankind. To which is added, an account of a battel between the antient and modern books in St. James’s library (1710), or Miscellanies in prose and verse (1711). But they might happen to represent such a bibliographical unit if the printed text of the work is coextensive with its material medium.

Although the content of the individual files is defined ideally as the text of a work, the information recorded in each file includes records of typographical details and material traces that would be ignored in selective or critical editions. The .xml code with which the files have been marked up is structured syntactically – it divides files into title page and body text, and it divides body text into paragraphs. But the .xml code also allows us to make a record of printed page numbers, catch-words, press signatures, press figures, ornaments and illustrations. This sort of record specifies a distinct typographic event that occurs locally within the linguistic flow of the text.

Similarly, the text reproduced in each individual file has been transcribed according to documentary principles. Typographical errors; mistakes in page numbers, catchwords and other bibliographical features; drop capitals and small capitals at the start of paragraphs; details of spelling, punctuation, italicization and capitalization: all these sorts of regularity and irregularity are recorded as accurately as possible in our files. The texts presented in the archive are unmodernized and unadapted. The only bibliographical features that we have not recorded are the running heads at the top of the original printed page, and the typographer's long "s". Ligatures, ampersands and other special signs are carefully noted.