Notes from the Underground

Notes have been much on our mind lately - the scribbled, and not the musical, variety. A couple of days ago we came across this article from the New York Times about the uncertain future facing marginalia - the notes readers leave scribbled beside or underneath (or in-between) book text.

The issue has been raised by members of the Caxton Club, a venerable Chicago association of bibliophiles, some of whom collect what are known as association copies - books once owned by writers of note (no pun intended). Association copies are noteworthy (okay, maybe just a little bit intended) because of the writer’s marginalia, which can often shed light on their influences and growth. The article prompted this rebuttal on note-taking functionality in e-book platforms. It doesn’t sound quite so sexy, especially for collectors of association copies.

It led us, in a roundabout way, to this: an image of the first page of the hand-written manuscript of David Foster Wallace’s cult epic, Infinite Jest. It’s taken from the website of Draft Journal, a new US journal focussing on issues of technique in creative writing. Here’s a piece from the Draft blog on the trials of teaching David Foster Wallace.

Update: here’s a video on David Foster Wallace’s legacy.