Redefining manuscript miscellanies

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revisit The Whole Book:

commonplace book

album amicorum / friendship album

Deidre Lynch, "Paper Slips: Album, Archiving, Accident" SiR 57 (Spring 2018)

“Founded on clipping, both literally and figuratively, albums are books that come together only as other books come apart.” (89)

“The album page as a depository of, and portal to, a past moment, and of the poem as the link connecting the now to the bygone time of a paster reading, thereby connecting readers to lost, absent, or dead friends.” (89)

Garvey 2012, blank books as spaces where archive is repertoire

Derrida, books as a space of gathering together

“The album-keeper ‘’performs archivalness’’ in indulging, through her book, her impulse to treasure, amass, embalm. And yet in this context her impulse often appears to have come uncoupled from the mechanisms of retrieval and information extraction that many commentators deem essential to the idea of the archive. These, it must be confessed, are archives lacking finding aids: to study Romantic album keeping is to confront the distinction between archiving as a process and the archive as a product.” (90)”

Rogue archiving

“Those who archive precious remembrances between album covers also tacitly propose a redefinition of ‘’the book’’ in general as only a provisional, conditional sort of storage system. In there hands, as we shall see, ‘’book’’ signifies a collection point for those slips and scraps, and a way-station that those paper-objects occupied previous to their further detachment and transportation elsewhere.” (90-1)

“In one of the ironies that these albums often trade in, they themselves have had trouble getting remembered — their vexed relation to the category of book, their makers’ simultaneous attraction to and impatience with the storage capacities of the codex form, contributing to the problem. While surviving examples of this book type have now come to rest in research libraries and archives, the volumes’ meanderings across the boundaries of our scholarly categories appear endless. It remains a tricky thing within the history of the book to identify the proper place for handmade, customized volumes of this sort.” (91)

These books are conditional — call for a performative understanding of materiality, how they work not just what they are

Sometimes grouped with “commonplace books” in metadata

Sometimes album, sometimes “scrapbook” on the cover of blank books; “those over time became the conventional identifiers, eclipsing the more playful terms.” (94)

“Those manufacturers, like commentators on their wares, tended to treat the terms album and scrapbook synonymously. … At the state of the 19c, scrapbook was instead readily used to identify books that had never been in proximity with a paste pot and whose contents were mainly copied in by hand (or by many hands, belonging to those individuals willing to relieve the neediness of the book’s owner and charitably donate their aesthetic surplus). Scrapbook was regularly used, too, to designate a book that ‘’mingled’’ its pasted-in preprinted clippings with handwritten transcriptions.” (95)

More descriptions of the genre of scrapbook or album — mixed media between pages — pushing “the limits of the category ‘’book’’” (96)

“Examining how paper slips and paper scraps are deployed and depicted in this media context, thinking too about how often the verse donated as the infill for people’s blank books suggests a theory of Romantic poetry that pivots on the material platform — the paper — that is taken up in the act of writing, I use the reset of this essay to explore the peculiar and sometimes perverse way in which the album/scrapbook manifests the archiving impulse. The rogue archivists I treeat here contrived to play at permanence without forsaking the pleasures that can come with considering the book, or the text, as a rather more fluid sort of assemblage comprising discrete, manipulable parts. Even while exploiting the authority of ‘’the’’ book, as in those title pages I remarked on earlier, this group also committed deliberately to the unbinding and disaggregating of other books, both literally — frontispieces and plates are favorite spoils for biblioclast scrapbookers — and figuratively — the conventions for verse-copying that governed their activities permitted them abundant scope for abridging and/or rewriting to refit poems for their new contexts.” (98)

Roland Barthes, The Preparation of the Novel, comparing albums and books — Mallarme’s un coup de des as written on blank book — “the blank book highlights possibilities only latent in the print book. It is the nature of blank books to foster the rebelliousness of the page/loose leaf. At the same time, ‘’as’’ books, they house and contain it.” (103)

“To engage album verse one needs a theory of poetry in which the material taken up in the act of composition is treated as integral rather than accidental” (105)

“Sometimes these books’ makers seem to be taking pains to locate their handiwork within the volatile, contingent world, rather than presenting the work of accumulating and aggregating memories that their books facilitate as creating a stable counterweight to such mutability and misadventure. They often look to be highlighting, not downplaying, the chanciness that inflected the various acts of receiving, collecting up, transcribing, and warehousing that brought these volumes into existence and identity.” (108)

achronology of these books — made over decades

When album falls into disuse, sometimes given to children to scribble on; shift from books to “family papers”

Digital leaves are now dismembered — “these books do not boost our faith in the possibilities of a historical recovery that would be a total recall, but instead propose a media theory that insistently twins cultural preservation with cultural risk” (113)



extra-illustrated / Grangerized