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September 2 in Pen Pal: Marginalia

On this day, Kaya took to writing her journal between the lines and in the margins of Trees of Insular Southeast Asia, which is not a pretty guidebook like Trees and Fruits of Southeast Asia but more like Wayside Trees of Malaya, created over decades by a scholar born in 1906:

Here is some marginalia in the copy of Lord Brabourne’s Letters of Jane Austen owned by by Fanny Caroline Lefroy and, later, her sister, Louisa Lefroy Bellas, who, as you can see, made corrections and added information (Source)

And here are some of Isaac Newton's own notes and corrections to his 1687 Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica, because science folks do write in the margins too, even when they're not political prisoners (Source)

Along the way to creating this post, I happened to come across images of palm-leaf manuscripts--writing not about trees of Southeast Asia, but on their very leaves:

16th-cent palm-leaf manuscript; image source Wikimedia commons

The writing was incised, and then darkened with soot (Source):

And, to bring the talk back to marginalia, I'll observe that Daniel M. Veidlinger notes in Spreading the Dhamma: Writing, Orality and Textual Transmission in Buddhist Thailand that

There are ... numerous interlinear corrections that are most often written in ink or lacquer, but are also incised into the leaves like the main text. (118)

Marginal notes by readers, on the other hand, are "completely absent."


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 2nd, 2014 07:33 pm (UTC)
All extremely cool!

I love marginalia, especially in old books.
Sep. 2nd, 2014 07:45 pm (UTC)
I found lots of pictures of the cute illustrative marginalia from illuminated manuscripts--so much fun. But I was more interested, for the purposes of this post, in people's actual notes.

(still, I couldn't resist a picture of kissing snails, which I saved, and as you can see, I got completely distracted by the palm-leaf manuscripts. I'd heard of them but never spent much time looking at them before.)
Sep. 2nd, 2014 07:59 pm (UTC)
I bought a used book last year precisely because it had lots of notes written it. :P I was interested to see what someone had to say to the book more than what the book was about. The book, btw, was I'm King of the Castle by Susan Hill, and the notes were very "lit class" type comments, as if made by a teacher thinking of potential questions for students.
Sep. 3rd, 2014 01:02 pm (UTC)
I think there's a story in someone buying a book just for the marginalia, and then becoming interested in the person who wrote the notes.... hmmmm......
Sep. 3rd, 2014 05:47 pm (UTC)
That could be a very interesting story. I can imagine it going many different ways/having many different flavors.
Sep. 2nd, 2014 09:29 pm (UTC)
16th-cent palm-leaf manuscript

I like all of this post, but especially that.
Sep. 3rd, 2014 01:01 pm (UTC)
You can see why, even though it wasn't really on topic, I had to include it.
Sep. 2nd, 2014 10:24 pm (UTC)
I love books that include notes in the margin that add to the text the author has written. Wonderbook was like that. Vandermeer had various notes in the margins as an actual part of the book.

Ooooh, the palm-leaf manuscripts are beautiful.
Sep. 3rd, 2014 01:00 pm (UTC)
I love that sort of thing too! Like when a story incorporates footnotes to good effect, like Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
Sep. 3rd, 2014 12:56 pm (UTC)
Interesting fact: the Koran was originally written on leaves, too, which is why when bookbinding came along, they still arranged the suras largest to smallest instead of the order of revelation.
Sep. 3rd, 2014 01:00 pm (UTC)
I did not know that! Very cool.

There were some pretty images of Arabic marginalia, when I was searching for marginalia.
Sep. 3rd, 2014 01:02 pm (UTC)
I was in the right mood over the weekend for this marginalia.
Sep. 3rd, 2014 01:02 pm (UTC)
I saw those!! I **loved** them.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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