Jackson 2001

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Jackson, Heather. Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books. New Haven: Yale University Pres, 2001.

Samuel Johnson's Plan of a Dictionary, University of Toronto's copy -- c18 owner Samuel Maude used it as a diary

"I am interested in interpretation and in the progress of interpretation, both in the individual reader and in the great society of readers over time. Every record of a particular reader's engagement with a book will have both historical and ahistorical or transhistorical elements. As physical objects, books have changed in shape and texture over the years, but some features remain constant. As intellectual objects, they act upon -- or rather interact with -- the reader's mind in different ways upon different occasions, but again there are constant features: the words on the page do not change, the range of meaning is not wide open." (15)

"curiosity-driven research"

Physical Features

how useful is this kind of typology? doesn't marginalia itself prove the futility of this exercise?

who is the audience for marginalia?

Coleridge, symbols used to indicate different states during reading of Blake's Songs of Innocence; to indicate his interpretation of Southey's parts of Joan of Arc (28-9)

"there is an obvious correlation between the level of interest and absorption in the reader and the length of the reader's notes." [??] (30)

example of clergyman annotating bishop's book, then amending subtitle to say "with critical Notes" &c.


"The marginalia that we see and write today are in a direct line of descent from those of two thousand years ago." (44) ?!?!

Motives for Marginalia

Object Lessons

Two Profiles

Books for Fanatics


Book Use or Book Abuse