I mean literally, the things people scrawl on the flyleaves and in the margins of books. My mother taught me not to deface books, not even to dog-ear them, but tell it to a poet! There's real treasure in literary marginalia: notes, scribbles, and assorted editorial comments added to books. Take Blake's famous comment on Francis Bacon - "Philosophy has Destroyd all art & Science." Blake really had it in for the artist Sir Joshua Reynolds, on whose death he scrawled, "Funeral granted to Sir Joshua for having destroyd Art . . . ." Unlike many a lesser poet, though, Blake ordinarily attacked ideas not people, and tried to delete that comment. Coleridge is the most copious of literary marginalia-writers; he even invented the word "marginalia." Anybody who let him borrow a book would later find reams of cramped, scribbled commentary it it; his essay-like annotations have been collected in a set of six volumes (so far) that contain some eight thousand notes. (Alas, the best-known marginal note isn't by a poet: Fermat's "last theorem," which didn't even fit in the margins of the book he was defacing; Wikipedia says it's the most famous solved problem in the history of mathematics.) Other stuff written inside books include doodles, reader's marks like stars, asterisks, crosses... but also actual poems!
Well, guess what we found not long ago! Read the rest of this post at Harriet: click here.