32) Furthermore, an analysis of the other two extant commonplace book
manuscripts shows similar overlaps between the notes and the subjects of his works.
Through an examination of each of the manuscripts painstakingly transcribed in his appendices alongside three commonplace books
compiled by Sir William Drake (1606-1669), Hamlin suggests we might "significantly advance our understanding of the ways in which Montaigne was studied, evaluated, and deployed by seventeenth-century English readers who sought to incorporate large portions of the Essays into compositions of their own" (135).
What we have, then, is a book within a book--a collection of "Sick-bed Consolations," an occasional text with a social purpose--that is nested within a book of daily writing, and that cannot, literally or literarily, be removed from the commonplace book
Despite his insistence that his method is "so mean a thing, as not to deserve publishing," the Lockean commonplace book
became extremely popular, and blank books using his indexing method were published for popular consumption well into the nineteenth century.
In his Commonplace Book
, one of many entries on the subject entitled "Heredity" reads, "Religion tells us that the father has eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth shall be set on edge--and the latest word of modem science is that the fact of our ancestors having held peculiar views on the three angles of the triangle is an inheritance from which we cannot escape" (CB, 144).
Other entries have given me "snatches" I should like to commit to my own commonplace book
, like this: "Men are monopolists/.
Milton began taking notes in his Commonplace Book
during his Horton period.
Burke, 'Ann Bowyer's Commonplace Book
(Bodleian Library MS Ashmole 51): Reading and Writing among the Middling Sort', Early Modern Literary Studies, 6 (2001), 1-28, http:// purl.
However, Bob Perlongo has assembled a kind of writer's commonplace book
, The Write Book: An Illustrated Treasury of Tips, Tactics, and Tirades (Art Direction Book Company, 0-88108225-2) that distills some of the excessive literary production of the past century or more (including the quote above) into a collection that, if not as readable as the other books mentioned here, is at least as browsable.
What remains is part commonplace book
, part melancholic catalog of loss, part fugue, part epic poem of unnumbered cantos, part portrait of the artist, and, taken as a whole, a great read--a read really like no other.
Karin Wulf, Associate Professor of History at American University, is co-editor of Milcab Martha Moore's Book: A Commonplace Book
from Revolutionary America (1997) and author of Not All Wives: Women of Colonial Philadelphia (2000).
In Every Seam, a prosaic collection of thirty-one loosely connected lyrics (a veritable commonplace book
of child's play, neighborhood tensions, and English department politics), counters the accidental nature of domestic assemblage with an ordered autobiographical narrative.