Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Sunday, 20 February 2011

A legitimate use for book margins?

Lucy’s post about writing in printed books brings longish comments. Alas, mine was devoted to psycho-analysing her writing style, forgetting the gravamen (I like taking that word out of the shed every so often and walking it round the lawn) of her original observation. The consensus seemed to be against the practice and I would agree.

With one exception. My French lessons consist of preparing a book passage for precise oral translation “in class”. Once read the book has little re-sale value for the reasons shown above. (Click to zoom, if you're interested.) This book is the experimental L’emploi du Temps by Michel Butor. Experimental? You may well ask.

THE LOVE PROBLEM Chs. One and Two 11,328 words, Ch. Three 1709 words. An unexpected sub-theme emerges. Jana, my American pilot heroine, flies planes in France and speaks better French than me. In doing so, she reflects on French vs English, often jokily. This is so fruitful I will have to hold it in check.

8 comments:

Rouchswalwe said...

Ah, language books are a whole different kettle of Fisch. You should see my Japanese readers!

I'm watching with great delight how the J and the Y dance at the beginning of your pilot's name ... which one will you settle on and does it have to do with her French-speaking and English-speaking souls?

Relucent Reader said...

In re: marginalia --a necessary bad thing, in your example. Writing in books was a high crime in my father's house; when I got to college it was very hard for me to do, but I did. Never succumbed to using highlighters. Thank you 3M for post-it notes. Dilemma resolved by tech., even if low.

Sir Hugh said...

For a number of years I have attended a class given by a retired university lecturer where we read and discuss a wide range of literature. I have made margin notations for this purpose, but restrict myself to pencil, but I still have a guilty feeling about it.

Barrett Bonden said...

RW (zS): I think I'm fairly settled on Jana (despite a friend emailing me and reminding me of a dreadful British pop-singer back in the sixties who had this name). But there has been a problem with her surname and you're going to enjoy this for reasons which will become obvious.

Jana was born and brought up in Arizona. I decided I wanted a German surname and picked Hofstadter out of the blue. But nothing ever comes out of the blue. Round about the same time someone (via my blog) had recommended a book concerning one of my other interests and I'd ordered it from the USA and was resigned to it taking ages to arrive. By which time I'd written the first chapter of TLP. The book arrived and guess what the author's name was - right! Hofstadter! OK, I could live with that. But after a few days tragedy ensued. The book, quite long and acquired at some cost, turned out to be abominably written and I had to discard it. And, because of this association, I had to change Jana's surname.

To Hartmann. The following Saturday evening I sat down to watch The Killing, a TV programme series that has gripped both of us: a police procedural (in 20 episodes!) set in Copenhagen and produced by Danes. Because of its enormous length it has the elbow-room to develop characters in some depth; this combined with the understated way it is filmed has led to a sometimes heart-breaking story line, centering in particular on the parents of a murdered teenage daughter. There is a parallel and interwoven theme about the Copenhagen city elections in which a bright young politician is seeking to displace the established and corrupt present regime. A bright young politician called... Hartmann!

My dear RW (zS) I may have to call on you as dispassionate outsider. Are you able to distil the essence of those two names - Hofstadter and Hartmann - and come up with something I can use that is not buried in my psyche? Vielen Dank.

RR: It was a high crime during my upbringing too as Sir Hugh (my brother just in case you didn't know) confirms. As a result I have never marked any book (other than the French ones) ever. But I've paid a price. The contents of books often start departing my mind the moment I turn the final page. And there are no aides memoires.

Sir Hugh: I recognise the guilt vicariously.

Rouchswalwe said...

Hmm. Stadtmann perhaps? It's a bit plain.

Lucy said...

I agree foreign language books are an exception. Tom and I agreed that we are quite as annoyed by our own notes and highlighting after a lapse of time as by somebody else's, if not more so.

I like the post-it note solution but can't imagine always having them to hand, I can rarely find a pen or pencil when I need one.

Barrett Bonden said...

RW (zS): I am trying out Nordmeyer for size. There is some aviation link which I have forgotten.

Lucy: You will be familiar with the type of French paperback I show amended: a retrograde contribution to the process of civilisation which usually starts to disintegrate halfway through the first reading. But the margins are wide and tempting.

Rouchswalwe said...

Nordmeyer is good. The N in Jana and the N in Nord ... sounds good!