Wolfe in Wolfe's Clothing

What we have here are two good books published by the increasingly adventurous University of South Carolina Press in celebration of the centenary of Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938). O Lost is the original version of what became Look Homeward, Angel (1929), the text being carefully established and edited by Arlyn and Matthew J. Bruccoli from a pencil draft in 17 ledgers, a typescript carbon copy (with a few missing pages), and five clusters of the ribbon copy. The editors tell us that "The setting copy of Look Homeward, Angel is unlocated and presumed lost." The job of composing an accurate text—a labor of love by the editors who have foregone any earnings and royalties in favor of the Wolfe estate—was more complicated than it might have been since neither Wolfe nor his famous editor. Maxwell Perkins, nor his typist, Abe Smith, troubled themselves very much with small details. Most of the line editing and proofreading and correction for Scribner's was accomplished by poet-editor John Hall Wheelock. A few months after publication of Angel, Wolfe received a letter from Louis N. Feipel, whose hobby was proofreading published books and who sent Wolfe a list of hundreds of errors and inconsistencies. According to the editors, none of these errors and inconsistencies in Angel was ever emended. The scholarship is solid, and the strategy of the editors direct. "The rationale for this...

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