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.]
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!