Saturday, 28 April 2012

Saturday 28th April - Marginalia - or lack of it.

File:Codiceemil.jpgMarginalia scribbles, comments, and illuminations in the margins of a book

(illustration and definition copied and pasted from Wikipedia)

I follow Sr CatherineWyborne on twitter (@digitalnun), who posts on all sorts of issues - church matters, obviously - but also digital media, webhosting, and typography. This link that she shared set me thinking

I have several books that belonged to Oma, that is, my grandmother. She died way back in 1977, but lives on, vividly, in my memory. Every so often I happen across her notes scribbled in the margin of these books and her voice replays in my head, like listening to a recording. I like finding her notes and thoughts in the margins of these books. It's a very personal connection with her strong presence throughout the first twenty years of my life. 

However, I loathe it, hate it, can't bear it, if I find other people have had the impertinence to write in a book, especially A Library Book. That is as bad as finding a hair in my meal at a restaurant; an unacceptable intrusion of another person; an invasion of my personal space. Ugh.

I guess it very much depends on the quality, intelligence and wisdom of the annotations; Oma's insights have always added to my enjoyment of the actual text.

Some books are designed to be written in. I have a copy of "The Ode Less Travelled" by Stephen Fry. It is a kind of informal textbook on poetry. I never studied poetry in any depth at all (apart from reluctantly in long, tedious O-level English literature classes, decades ago). I now want to understand about iambic pentameters (and I can now pronounce pentameter!) and sprung rhythm and inner rhymes and all those other structures hidden within the lines of verse.

Every so often Fry instructs, nay, encourages, even exhorts the reader to stop reading the text, and use the generous allowance of blank space in the book to have a go at a little exercise - "try and write five pairs of pentameters, first with stops, and then unstopped".

Unfortunately, my copy of "The Ode Less Travelled" has no margins - it's on my Kindle. I am going to have to go out and buy the "real" book.

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