This is a review article of:
Cristina Pecchia, Transmission-specific (In)utility, or Dealing with Contamination: Samples from the Textual Tradition of the Carakasaṃhitā in: Text Genealogy, Textual Criticism and Editorial Technique, Jürgen Hanneder–Philipp A. Maas (eds.), WZKS 52-53 (2009-2010)
Which manuscripts have to be left out of one's critical edition? The question is unavoidable, since the editor's and the readers' life is too short for a critical edition to contain all possible witnesses. Scholars usually agree that many printed editions can be just left out, since they are just re-prints of older ones, or since they reproduce the text of an older edition plus some innovations (be they conjectures or involuntary errors). Why should this not apply to manuscripts?
Pecchia applies Timpanaro's eliminatio codicum inutilium (elimination of useless manuscripts) along with the elimination of derivative manuscripts. In fact, the latter are copies of a single manuscript, which is also extant. They can be, hence, obviously left out –unless the extant manuscript they copy is now in pretty bad conditions and they are needed to restore *its* text. But derivative manuscritps are hardly the case. Much more commonly, copies are derived out of more than one exemplar, through sporadical or systematic contamination. Some of these derivative and contaminated manuscritps can also be eliminated, suggests Pecchia, although prudently. Care has to be used because contaminated manuscritps may be witnesses of lost hyparchetypes. Moreover, derivation and contamination can be ascertained only in regard to a certain section of the text –the conclusions established in regard to a segment of it do not necessarily apply to the whole text. Furthermore, contamination may be sporadical or systematic, can regard readings (if the copist has constantly before her two or more copies and *collates* them, choosing what s/he thinks to be the best reading) or portions of the text (if an exemplar is damaged or thought to be less authoritative as regards a specific segment of the text). Finally, contamination can only be decided a posteriori, after the definition of a plausible stemma. And this needs to be done after a significant part of the text (better: the whole text) has been collated, if one wants to avoid distorsions. On the other hand, Pecchia insists on the necessity of this elimination, unless (it is implied, although not explicitly said) one wants one's critical edition to be nothing but a collection of curious variant readings.
Last, Pecchia's article is a well-written and well-documented introduction to many aspects of textual criticism, quoting basically from the Italian tradition (Pasquali, Timpanaro, Segre…) and from Paul Maas' Textkritik, but also answering to criticisms addressed to them by more recent scholars.