Friday, December 22, 2006

Why the delay?

Home > Journals & Media > Journals > Auroville Today Current issue Archive copies Auroville Adventure August 2003 Publishing Sri Aurobindo's Complete Works - in conversation with Carel
"The estimate of four years was made by Jayantilal, the founder of the Archives, who initiated the project and has since passed away," Bob ventures carefully. "Jayantilal was an inveterate optimist who always minimised the difficulties. The rest of us had serious doubts about the four-year schedule, but he had none, so he boldly went ahead and announced it. As we expected, the work is taking longer than four years. But even the editors underestimated the time it would take!
"When we began, we had 20 years of work behind us. In 1975 Nolini-da passed on to the Archives all of Sri Aurobindo's manuscripts in his possession - more than 150 notebooks and thousands of loose sheets. In 1977 we started the journal Sri Aurobindo: Archives and Research in which over the next 18 years we published more than 2,000 pages of newly discovered writings, including most of the Record of Yoga. During this period we also brought out Essays Divine and Human and new editions of The Future Poetry and Savitri. By 1997 when the Complete Works began, we had half-a-dozen volumes ready or almost ready for publication and another half-a-dozen well underway. But after those books were printed, things slowed down. We have ten people working full-time on the job, another ten working part-time, but it is still a long process."
Why is it taking so long? "First," answers Richard, "because we are perfectionists. Otherwise this work would be rather pointless, since reasonably adequate editions of the major works are already available. We read the text of each volume at least twice against Sri Aurobindo's manuscripts and the early editions of his works. The exact procedure differs from one book to another, but to do it properly is always time-consuming. Second, we are including much more previously unpublished material than we had originally planned. The volumes we are bringing out are getting bigger and bigger. In the beginning they were four or five hundred pages each on the average, but the new ones are six or seven hundred pages or even more, and there will be more than the projected 35 volumes. Part of the reason for this is that we have had some surprises, especially with Sri Aurobindo's letters.
When we started, the volumes of letters were not our responsibility. Kishor Gandhi was to edit the letters. But then he passed away. All his material came to us. We had thought the letters were in pretty good shape, so we were planning to add some new letters and then print the books. But when we started comparing the Centenary edition of the letters with Sri Aurobindo's manuscripts, we found that many mistakes had been made when the letters were first transcribed. So now all the letters - thousands of them - are being compared with Sri Aurobindo's manuscripts to ensure their accuracy. Several people in the Archives are doing this full-time, leaving less manpower available for other volumes of the Complete Works.

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