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Monday, September 04, 2006

Talking to your books?

Interesting article on marginalia in John Adam's books.

What he most dislikes is breezy confidence; the pieties of both left and right set him off. Adams read Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “Discourse on Inequality” in translation. “Savages are not bad,” Rousseau wrote of the state of nature, for “the calmness of their passions and their ignorance of vice . . . prevents them from doing ill.” Adams: “Calmness of the passions of savages! ha! ha! ha!”

:) Ha! Ha! Ha! Centuries don't much change human nature, but thinking of John Adams adding the "ha! ha! ha!" makes me laugh.

Centuries after the invention of printing, millenniums after the invention of writing, literature still has many of the features of an oral/aural experience. We read books aloud, or listen to them on tape. John Adams talked to his books, ideas and authors becoming characters in a continuing free-for-all in his head. We don’t know if he spoke to himself as he made his jottings, but it’s hard to imagine him (“foolish woman”) writing in perfect silence.

Dovegreyreader scribbles recently posted on the topic of marginalia...who does, who doesn't, and why.

Still working on my biographies, but with typical interruptions for two mysteries: Prey for a Miracle and The Devil's Feather. Reviews are here.

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