Saturday, 9 October 2010
In other books, readers have corrected typographical errors; one reader of a Delafield novel had carefully corrected the author's grammar. Unfortunately, their grasp of the use of the subjunctive was less sophisticated than EMD's, and the correction itself was wrong. Sometimes you get a sense of the reader's response through their marginalia, an exuberant "YES!" against a provocative statement or a bracing "Nonsense!". Changes in our sense of what is acceptable provokes readers to label racism and sexism where they encounter it.
I never, now, write or mark books, although I was encouraged to by previous English teachers: my A level copy of Keats is covered in pencil scribblings. Instead, I'm addicted to the use of page flags and post-its, which leave no trace for later readers. While I find it distracting when people have underlined bits of text - the eye is inevitably drawn to that sentence at the expense of others - the written annotations can be amusing, as above, and sometimes enlightening. They remind me that reading is not necessarily a solitary, individual activity, but can be a communal one, and that my understanding of a text draws inevitably on that of other readers, be they critics or marginal commentators.
Posted by Tanya Izzard at 11:16