Sunday, October 12, 2014

Marginalia redux

Strange to say, thinking about marginalia last week for class turns out to have been much more closely related to one of my current scholarly obsessions than I had quite imagined. I'm speaking on Saturday in Dublin (here's more information about the event) on Swift and commentary; been reading rather maniacally and now trying to put thoughts in order, but here is a funny bit from one of my favorite essays in a really excellent new collection.

One delightful but painful side effect of working on this talk has been that I am now absolutely consumed with the desire to spend some months sitting in rare book libraries with amazing tomes before me: I do have a sabbatical coming up, not next year but the following one (i.e. 2016-17), with the only problem being that I have two competing projects that I am equally excited about, The ten-week Clarissa and the new one for which I have just now created a folder on the hard drive titled "Ancients and moderns"!

So, Paddy Bullard, “What Swift did in libraries,” in Jonathan Swift and the Eighteenth-Century Book, ed. Bullard and James McLaverty (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 65-84 (the quotation is on 72):
[I]t is clear that Swift was an unusually active reader. This activity often involved a kind of conversation with the text written upon the printed page. The tone of that conversation was often indignant or otherwise aggressive--the anti-Scottish invective of his notes on Clarendon ('Cursed hellish Scots!'--'Greedy Scotch rebellious dogs'--'Diabolical Scots forever', etc.) is not untypically virulent.
Also: "The regularity of Swift's anti-monarchical marginalia across several volumes gives it a ritual quality, as though he were leafing through his books looking for opportunities to perform it. . . . It seems that Swift found in the pages of his personal library a textual site just secure enough to bear anti-monarchical inscriptions that were too dangerous for him to make in any other kind of papers, either published or private" (74).

No comments:

Post a Comment