Of Courtly and Carnal Love

A while ago, I was wondering, “What’s Underlying In The Underline” — a description of a conflict, of writing in books. Marginalia, to be precise and its various cousins.

Recently, Amit tagged me in a tweet:

My instinctive reaction was: NO!

I’ll admit, however, since my last post, however, I’ve been doing more of underlining (neatly) and making small notes in the margins (good handwriting), in pencil only.

Then, Rob Burdock, got into the conversation. We exchanged a few tweets, and the conversation, though short, was very sweet and interesting. Rob, then shared an essay with me. I read it.

[Imagine a very long pause. A really long pause.]

Sacred Games
Given the length of the essay, it is the most compelling essay I have ever read. I felt an urgent need to return to my books and underline and add notes to all the books I have ever read. An almost impossible task, given the books I have read. A few days ago (i.e. before I read this essay), I was reading a book, for an article I have been researching for my latest adventure — The Custodians. I was quite excited about the topic and I began slashing underlines defiantly, adding notes here and there, circling dates and names of them, who caused history. It was as if, I was myself of fifteen years ago, copy-editing a storyboard. (I know it is hard to believe). Just four pages down, I felt an acute pain, heavily underlined by a new-found guilt. I could no more do it. I went back to the first page, erased all the graffiti (yes, it was a pencil), and calmly restarted marking the lines neatly, slowly, with care. Therefore, the book isn’t finished and my neat markup continues; needless to say, the article is delayed.

And then, couple of days ago, I read this essay. I shared it with The Bum. He agreed wholeheartedly with me.

I don’t know about you, but if you love books, this essay is a must read. If nothing, at least to know the idea behind the title of this post.

Download the PDF of “Never Do That To A Book” by Anne Fadiman. And many thanks to Rob!

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7 thoughts on “Of Courtly and Carnal Love

  1. Hmmm. I love reading marginalia. Makes me feel connected to that other person who must have read the book. But it can be an annoyance too sometimes. Particularly when people write down dictionary meanings of words they cannot understand. That happens a lot. 🙂

    Like

  2. I’m a courtly lover of books. There’s something quite wonderful about a chaste page of white paper that excites me. So when I make copious notes, I use notebooks. Sadly I have such a primitive scribble I need lots of space to make it semi legible. I sometimes enjoy marginalia of others, but usually it’s not that earth shaking and I wish it wasn’t there. Still if you own the book, you should be able to treat it how ever you like.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True @ you should be able to treat it however you like. While the essay is compelling, I am “unable” to become a carnal lover of books. Looks like like it will be a long drawn process, if I ever become one! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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