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April 7, 2010

Don't commonplace my Bible.

In Robert Darnton's The Case for Books, he brings in a little mystery with chapter ten, The Mysteries of Reading. Why is this chapter bringing in the mystery? No, it's not just the title. This chapter talks about commonplace books. Which the point of a commonplace book....still remains a mystery to me.

Yes, I understand the idea, but I don't like looking at pieces of things without the rest of the context, which I think the commonplace book does, since they are just snippets of different works put into a journal-like book.

I'm glad this chapter included Thomas Jefferson because this all reminded me of a class I took last semester called Religion in America. In that class we read a book (that of course I cannot think of the title) that talked about how Jefferson literally made his own Bible by cutting out of the pieces that talked about supernatural activity (ex: Jesus turning water into wine.) It was later called The Jefferson Bible...clever. But it makes me think of the commonplace book because it was taking pieces of a greater work and only saving the parts they actually liked. I don't like that.

I feel like though this was going on during the Enlightenment period, they weren't being very enlightened by cutting out the texts they didn't agree with.

2 Comments

I was struggling with the meaning behind commonplace books as well. I'm glad I'm not alone, lol. I basically took the commonplace book as a quote book, with analysis of the quotes within it. I could be completely off-base, but it's the best I could do.
In my blog, I also mentioned that blogging might be the modern version of commonplacing, because we take a single quote or two and expand on it. Just a thought.

I just read yours! I liked your thoughts on the commonplace book too. I think the blogs are the new commonplace books but that's just because I don't think I really even know what they are. haha

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