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Commonplace Books, one more time
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Commonplace Books, one more time
- From: Sam Lanham <slanham@xxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 6 Aug 1998 19:18:53 -0400
- Message-id: <199808062319.QAA15740@SUL-Server-2.Stanford.edu>
- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: On the web at http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey" <BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
OK, OK. Since I got no responses to my question about the history of
commonplace books it has occurred to me and has been suggested by an
eminent member of the list that the term "commonplace book" is not very
Maybe I should define it: A commonplace book is a blank book to be filled
with quotes, sayings, thoughts, etc., of interest to the owner. From what
was collected you can get insights into the owners interests, thinking, and
personality. It may also include journal entries by the owner. I found my
g-grandmother's in some stuff we inherited. It's from 1887 and has blank
pages interspersed with printed autographs and quotes from well-known
poets. It is commercially leather bound and gold stamped and in quite good
condition. Reading it was almost like having a conversation with my ancestor.
Probably the most famous commonplace book belonged to Bishop George
Berkeley (1685-1753), an Irish cleric and philosopher, whose commonplace
book is an important source of his philosophical thinking. (Encyc. Brit.,
11th ed., vol. 3, p. 779).
I have a friend, Cyra, who is a writer. She encourages her students to
compile and keep commonplace books and is interested in passing on to her
students any background we could provide. Could be that the commonplace
book, like journals and diaries, is just so generic that it has no discrete
history as a book type.
Any helpful comments will be passed on to Cyra.
Sam Lanham (slanham@xxxxxxxx)