Mississippi State professor produces new Thackeray edition

Contact: Sammy McDavid

A Mississippi State University English professor continues his quest to restore the original verse to nearly two dozen works by 19th century English writer William M. Thackeray.

Internationally recognized for his scholarly editing of Thackeray's works, Peter L. Shillingsburg now adds "The Newcomes: Memoirs of a Most Respectable Family" to his list. The 1,050-page novel is published by the University of Michigan Press.

A leading advocate of the realistic novel, Thackeray (1811-1863) is most noted for his portrayals of the middle and upper classes of his time. The Englishman's works have been republished in nearly 20 collected editions and countless individual reprintings.

Shillingsburg, a member of the Mississippi State faculty since 1970, is general editor of the Thackeray Scholarly Edition Project, a critical compilation of the novels as the author wrote them. Since 1978, his efforts have received major support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The London Times Literary Supplement and the Library Journal both have praised Shillingsburg and others involved for "restoring the text to the form that Thackeray had intended." Prior to the project, there were no texts exactly as they were originally composed.

"The Newcomes," originally serialized in installments between 1853 and 1855, forms the major basis for positive reevaluations of Thackeray by feminist critics, Shillingsburg said.

"Many give him high marks for sensitivity to the position of women in Victorian society," he said.

Previously, Shillingsburg edited Thackeray's most famous work, "Vanity Fair," as well as "The History of Pendennis" and "Major Gahagan and Yellowplush." Yet another, "The History of Henry Esmond," was prepared by Edgar F. Harden of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, a Shillingsburg colleague on the scholarly edition project.

Two other volumes are in progress, "Catherine" and "The Luck of Barry Lyndon."

Thu, 05/30/1996 - 05:00