Sunday, January 14, 2018

Is Marginalia For Me? or Would You Could You In A Book?

Perhaps I owe my respect for books to my mother. I don't particularly recall as a child, but someone must have given me some foundational basis for an almost reverent veneration of books.
My own children read some of the same books I read as a child, their condition mostly with only normal wear.

Continuing into adulthood, my books receive the utmost care. Nothing more than normal wear will do. It is precisely because of this the concept of marginalia, though seemingly fascinating, is hard for me fit into my routine related to my books.

A good many of my poetry book collection are signed by the author. Those have been the only allowable markings otherwise acceptable. However, on occasion, I have been sort of reawakened to marginalia. Usually, this comes about by reading something that has touched on the subject and again my curiosity is opened; I wonder then if I might be missing something.

It seems the practice dates back to ancient times.  What's more, there are recorded instances of well-known writers who have taken to the practice when reading other people's work. According to an article by William Giraldi, writing in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the author Herman Melville was rather partial to the writings of John Milton. His copies of Paradise Lost and other poems were said to contain numerous personal notations on the pages.

I acknowledge the thought of picking up someone's copy of a book with such notations is quite intriguing. I am fascinated, for example, of the personal writings of other writers.  I believe they give more insight into the thinking of that person. It would only stand to reason I would likewise relish the possibility of reading works with such notations. The conundrum for me is personally moving beyond my hangups and become a marginialest myself. (is that a word?)

I am curious how many poets or avid readers of poetry, or any writing for that matter, make such notations in their books?  Did these people find it difficult at the start?  Are their others, like myself, who have been conflicted on this matter and how have they gotten over it? To this point, I am asking readers if they would mind taking a survey on the subject. You will find it in the top right sidebar.  Your participation is appreciated.  Anyone who feels like sharing more specifics may post in comments or email me directly.  I will keep you posted in the future on my path towards or away from marginalia.


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