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Some Details Concerning the Present Edition - Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition, vol. 1 
Democracy in America: Historical-Critical Edition of De la démocratie en Amérique, ed. Eduardo Nolla, translated from the French by James T. Schleifer. A Bilingual French-English editions, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2010). Vol. 1.
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This bilingual edition of Tocqueville’s work contains a new English translation of the French critical edition published in 1990. The copyright to the French version is held by J. Vrin and it is not available online. The copyright to the English translation, the translator’s note, and index is held by Liberty Fund.
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Some Details Concerning the Present Edition
Theodore Sedgwick, a correspondent of Tocqueville, said jokingly that the handwriting of the latter oscillated between hieroglyphics and cuneiform.11 The condition of notes meant by Tocqueville to be read only by himself can be imagined.
Following a system frequently used at the time, the draft occupies the right side of the folio and leaves the left side free for notes and variants.12 The text, nonetheless, often extends beyond the right side and successively invades the left side, the margins, and the space between the lines.
Supplementary sheets are added at the end of each chapter, small pieces of paper are glued over the original, and sometimes other papers are even stuck to the first ones. Crosses, x’s, ovals, circles, letters, and diacritical signs are multiplied to indicate transfers and additions. It is clear that an exact reproduction of the many minor changes in the text of the manuscript is as unnecessary as it would be boring, and I have not bothered with it.
Notes in the margin testify to Tocqueville’s doubts about certain passages, his desire to review them, and sometimes his intention to ask for the opinion of his friends or their criticisms. The fragments that he intended to eliminate are generally circled.
At the point of finishing the composition of Democracy in America, Tocqueville wanted his family and certain of his friends to be able to read the manuscript, comment on it, and critique it. With this intention, in 1834, he hired the services of a copyist.13 This copy of the manuscript, which could have been sent to the publisher once definitively corrected, has been lost except for a few loose sheets that are found with the manuscript. The reading of these pages reveals the difficulties experienced by the copyist; it is probable, from several notes in the manuscript, that Tocqueville himself dictated a good part of the book.14
References made elsewhere give an idea15 of this copy, which contained a certain number of errors, as did, we can assume, the copy that constituted the final version sent to the publisher. The printing process inevitably introduced others.16
The editions that followed worked to correct the errors of the first edition, but added new ones. For his part, Tocqueville also made certain deletions and several additions.17
At the time of the preparation of this edition, I began by comparing the most important French editions (those of 1835, 1838, 1840, and 1850). I discovered a certain number of differences from one edition to another: corrections by the author, modifications of punctuation, omissions, etc. After recovering the missing passages, I then compared the whole text with the manuscript and identified more than a hundred diverse errors. To those, some errors made by Tocqueville had to be added. For the latter, I have merely pointed out the error; I tried to correct it if possible, but I have not in any way modified the text.
I then incorporated the fragments that I chose into the known text.18 To do this, a meticulous selection of texts was made among the multiple variants and versions present in the manuscript; the selection was made for obvious reasons of interest as well as placement. I have deliberately chosen to concentrate the greatest portion of the additions in the chapters that seem to me to have the most interest, and in particular in the second volume of the book. The additions to the main text appear between brackets; they may be preceded and followed by various diacritical signs whose meaning is set forth below.19
The notes consist of marginalia, of variants or versions predating the final version, which belong to the drafts, travel notes, fragments of correspondence, and criticisms put forth by friends and family. Their sources have been carefully and systematically indicated. To these notes is added the critical apparatus that I wanted to be useful as well as succinct.
Finally, at the end of the fourth volume, I have included in the form of appendixes six texts of different types.20 The first two, Journey to Lake Oneida and A Fortnight in the Wilderness, had been written by Tocqueville during his journey in the United States. Everything suggests that they would have constituted appendices to the Democracy if Beaumont had not written Marie. We know in fact from the latter that Tocqueville had judged the two narratives to be too close to his travel companion’s fictional venture to consider publishing them.21
The two texts that follow are part of the drafts. Without the polish and the quality of the two preceding ones, they still have a certain documentary interest.
To include a certain number of ideas that will constitute the keystones of Tocqueville’s political thought, I have added an unpublished letter from the author, dating from 1830 and addressed to Charles Stoffels.
Finally, I believed it was good to recapitulate in appendixes the foreword to the twelfth edition and all of the works cited by Tocqueville in his book as well as in the drafts, in order to aid in the reconstruction of the “Tocqueville library.”
[11. ] In a letter of 15 January 1856 (YTC, DIIa).
In a letter of 28 December 1856 to the countess de Grancey (OCB, VII, p. 424), Tocqueville makes the Abbé Lesueur responsible for his bad handwriting: “He had the singular idea of making me learn to write before teaching me spelling. Since I did not know how to write my words, I muddled them as well as I could, drowning my errors in my scribbling. As a result, I have never known how to spell perfectly, and I have continued to scribble indefinitely.” We know, moreover, that Didot, the first publisher of L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution, sent the manuscript back to the author twice in succession because of illegibility.
[12. ] In certain cases, I have reproduced the notes in pencil that are in Tocqueville’s hand.
[13. ] Perhaps Monsieur Parier, cited in note o of p. 384. A letter of Édouard to Alexis de Tocqueville (CIIIb, 2, pp. 65-67, reproduced in note c of pp. 142-43) suggests the idea that the copy was done in notebooks. Two notes in the drafts speak about the price of the copies and the number of pages copied (YTC, CVh, 3, p. 17, and CVh, 2, p. 11).
In a letter to Beaumont of 23 October 1839 (Correspondance avec Beaumont,OC, VIII, 1, p. 389), Tocqueville refers to a copy of the second volume.
[14. ] On the jacket of chapter VII of the fourth part of volume II, we read, for example: twenty minutes. Is this an allusion to the time taken to read the chapter?
[15. ] The commentaries from the Tocqueville family, from Gustave de Beaumont, and from Louis de Kergorlay often reproduce the fragments to which they are referring. Most of the commentaries of the first readers of Tocqueville’s book relate to details of writing, style, and the vocabulary used. Of course, I have reproduced at the bottom of the page only those criticisms that seemed of some theoretical interest.
[16. ] For example, where Tocqueville wanted to say that “aristocratic countries are full of rich and influential individuals who know how to be self-sufficient and who are not easily or secretly oppressed” (II, p. 1267), certain editions assert: “aristocratic countries are full of rich and influential individuals who do not know how to be self-sufficient and who are not easily or secretly oppressed” (my emphasis).
In chapter IV of the second part of the second volume (p. 306), the author maintains that in 1831 the proposal of the partisans of the tariff circulated in a few days “due to the power of the printed word,” while several editions attribute this fact to “the birth of the printed word.” The editions in use contain more than a hundred errors of this type.
[17. ] The reader will find in the notes the reasons that led to certain of these corrections. For instance, the deletion of the allusion to John Quincy Adams (note k for p. 53).
The editors of the new edition of the complete works of Tocqueville, published by Gallimard, preferred to produce the last edition corrected by Tocqueville, the thirteenth, which dates from 1850. That edition nonetheless presents a good number of the errors present in previous editions. It also introduced a certain number of new errors.
[18. ] The writing of the fragments that I cite is not always, as you will see, at the level of the published texts. The sometimes maladroit, sometimes frankly incorrect sentences that are reproduced have clearly not received the attention accorded to the published texts. You will find in particular certain stylistic and grammatical archaisms, as well as certain errors in the use of tenses, moods, and prepositions that I have not tried to modify in any way.
[19. ] The new fragments that this edition presents are reproduced as they can be read in the manuscript. I have nonetheless made a certain number of corrections and modifications necessary for comprehension:
[20. ] The thirteenth edition included for the first time as an appendix the report of Tocqueville to the Académie des sciences morales et politiques on the book by Cherbuliez, De la démocratie en Suisse, and Tocqueville’s speech of 27 January 1848 to the Chamber, in which he foresaw the February revolution. Tocqueville’s intention had been as well to include as an appendix a short work written in October 1847 and published with the title “De la classe moyenne et du people” [“Of the middle class and the people”] (OC, III, 2, p. 738-741), which he sent to Pagnerre (letter from Tocqueville to Pagnerre of 13 September 1850, at the National Assembly). Because of length, the present edition does not reproduce the two appendixes of the 1850 edition.
[21. ] See OCB, V, p. 27.