Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Jam yesterday

From William Sherman, "Dirty Books? Attitudes Toward Readers' Marks":
According to his former lodger, the translator and playwright John Henry Jones, Empson was once forced to buy the London Library a new copy of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus: when he returned it they found it covered not only with his marginal notes but with the jam from his morning toast. When I cited this anecdote in a Times Literary Supplement review, Jones himself wrote in to elaborate on the nature of Empson's marginalia: "The work in question was W. W. Greg's parallel-text edition of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus, and the librarian . . . was hardly straining at a gnat in demanding a fresh copy--the book was virtually done to death in Empson's zeal to demolish Greg's argument in favour of the B-text, a process which . . . was maintained throughout all quotidian activities."

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