What is Marginalia?

There is no doubt about it, reading has completely evolved. From the Stone Age when people inscribed their thoughts and stories upon cave walls, to the Egyptians who recorded information using papyrus, later to more modern day paper and ink, and now to reading ideas and stories from a digital tablet, customs of reading has changed dramatically. Digital tablets seem to be everywhere. Every day people can read about new brands of e-books being sold in the market, but are e-books as easy to use as printed texts? Certainly not.

Book fairs and festivals take place all over the country. Recently, there was a book festival in Cincinnati, Ohio called, “Books by the Banks.”[1]Published authors and storytellers assembled from all over the nation to celebrate the written word. People of all ages took their books to get signed by their favorite authors. Now, how would a person be able to do this with a digital book? It is very doubtful that anyone would want to blemish their $299 HD Kindle Fire.[2]

Is it not wonderful, while reading a book, to have the ability to quickly jot down in the margin your thoughts and notes? In fact, books with markings and notes written in the margin are considered very valuable. It is called marginalia. Marginalia is not only lucrative because celebrity connections, such as Nelson Mandela’s writing traces in an old Shakespeare book he read while imprisoned in South Africa, but also for what it allows people to learn about history. The Washington University Library was able to identify 74 volumes of books that belonged to Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson frequently initialed his books and wrote scholarly notes in the margins, enriching the text with his own knowledge.[3] If these notes were not written, people would lack information on the lives of some of the most important historical figures.

Books do not need to be charged, have glares, and have been a part of human culture for hundreds of years. Where would we be without the information books have given us?


[2] amazon.com, 2012

[3] NYtimes.com, 2011

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2 thoughts on “What is Marginalia?

  1. Its like you read my thoughts! You appear to understand so much approximately this, like you wrote the guide in it or something. I think that you simply could do with some % to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is magnificent blog. A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

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