Noel Malcolm, 18 October 1984
Hobbes studies are booming. The production of books and articles on Hobbes and everything (Hobbes and Laughter; Hobbes and the American Constitution; Hobbes and Vico, or Dryden, or Hegel …) has reached record levels. Yet the essential scholarly machinery on which one might expect such a thriving industry to depend is in fact jerry-built and creaking with age: the standard edition of Hobbes’s works was published nearly a hundred and fifty years ago, and suffers from incompleteness, unreliable transcriptions and an often arbitrary choice of copy-texts. Scholars have always known that most of Hobbes’s works have complex textual histories, but they have usually shied away from the task of tackling them editorially. Now at long last Howard Warrender has produced what promises to be the first work in a new complete edition of Hobbes’s philosophical writings. The text he has tackled is one of the most complex of all, and it is not surprising to learn that his painstaking work on it took nearly twenty years to finish (though it is rather surprising that it then apparently spent more than four years in the press).