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A Summer of Commonplaces

From the introduction to James’ Laughlin’s A Commonplace Book of Pentastichs:

  • Commonplace books have been an engaging adjunct of literary performance for hundreds of years.  Everyone knows this, and most of us, one way or another, have kept commonplace books of our own, notebooks in which we copy out fragments from our reading, anything that seems especially trenchant or felicitous.  Often we add our own commentaries.  Some such books are famous, of course, those assembled by William Byrd and Thomas Jefferson and W.H. Auden, for instance, but hundreds and hundreds have bee published.  Some scholars think the original commonplace books were kept by medieval philosophers and natural scientists for purposes of research and in preparing arguments; but the idea is universal.

Of course, the great commonplace in the SLU Libraries are the books, so, while perhaps without commentaries this summer will be given over to noting commonplaces, driven by nothing more than curiosity.  Starting with James Laughlin, who is of course best known for being the founder and long time publisher of New Directions Press…

~ by pdoty on June 1, 2015.

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