If I may be so bold? I’m returning to a book to find that my own historical marginalia gets pretty cute when I discover amazing narrative links between concepts that basically do my thinking for me. OMG! Dorothy Richardson, you wonderful 1905 faux-“New York Working Girl.”
My friend N scrawled the cutest marginalia I’ve ever seen in her copy of the Norton Anthology of British Literature about twelve years ago when she was a poetry-loving virginal undergraduate English major in Canada, where we’re both from. I borrowed N’s Norton back when I was studying for the evil Lit GRE and had a few hundred years’ worth of English literature to master. There, at the bottom of the John Donne poem I was flicking past, I found N’s precious annotation and I swear to god I wept: “Please, let me be in love like Donne & lover.”
We’ve argued over this for years— N insists that it’s a paraphrase of Donne’s meaning in this stanza, but I’m certain it’s a romantic’s fervent wish exhaled in the margins of a book that’s not usually the site of such diaristic expression. Either way I think we can agree it is very, very cute.