Kantaantekeninge as bedreigde kunsvorm

Newberry Biblioteek

Newberry Biblioteek

Volgens ‘n berig op die New York Times se webtuiste is die antieke gebruik van kantaantekeninge (marginalia) by tekste ‘n erg bedreigde kunsvorm. So is daar ‘n bepaalde boek, The Pen and the Book deur Walter Besant, wat by die Newberry Library in Chicago wat slegs onder die strengste bewaking moontlik bekyk kan word. Op sigself is dié boek, wat oor hoe om in die boekbedryf profyt te maak, nie juis van belang nie. Hoekom dan dié streng beheermaatreëls? Omdat niemand minder as Mark Twain dié betrokke kopie beetgehad het en deurlopend met die outeur ‘n argument gevoer het by wyse van kantaantekeninge …



“The scribbler was Mark Twain, who had penciled, among other observations, a one-way argument with the author, Walter Besant, that ‘nothing could be stupider’ than using advertising to sell books as if they were ‘essential goods’ like ‘salt’ or ‘tobacco.’ On another page, Twain made some snide remarks about the big sums being paid to another author of his era, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, ” aldus die beriggewer.

Onder die lys van beroemde marginaliste wat in die berig genoem word, is daar ook die geval van Nelson Mandela wat blykbaar in die biblioteek op Robbeneiland se kopie van Julius Ceasar sy naam langs die volgende uitspraak geteken het: “Cowards die many times before their deaths.”

Nietemin, prof. Heather Jackson, wat in Maart die hoofrede tydens ‘n simposium met as titel “Other People’s Books: Association Copies and the Stories They Tell” gaan lewer, het die volgende oor die kwessie van marginalia te sê gehad: “Books with markings are increasingly seen these days as more valuable, not just for a celebrity connection but also for what they reveal about the community of people associated with a work. Examining marginalia reveals a pattern of emotional reactions among everyday readers that might otherwise be missed, even by literary professionals.”

Nou ja, toe. Ook is daar in die digkuns heelwat voorbeeld van gedigte wat oor dié onderwerp handel. In ons eie digkuns is daar byvoorbeeld, Loftus Marais se manjifieke “Gedig vir my Seamus Heaney New Selected Poems 1966-1987” (in Staan in die algemeen nader aan vensters, p. 24. Tafelberg, 2008.) Dit is egter Billy Collins se gedig “Marginalia” wat ek vanoggend vir jou leesplesier onder aan die Nuuswekker plaas.


Sedert Vrydag het daar ‘n nuwe gedig deur Joan Hambidge bygekom. Dan het Louis Jansen van Vuuren, ons nuwe toevoeging tot Buiteblik, ook sy eerste bydrae gelewer waarin hy onder andere oor sikliese digvorme soos die rondeel skryf aan die hand van seisoenale veranderinge. Geoordeel aan dié eerste plasing kan ‘n mens omtrent uitsien na sy volgende stukke.

Geniet die week wat op hande is. En bly tog op die uitkyk vir struikrowers. Soms is hulle hardhorend.

Mooi bly.





Sometimes the notes are ferocious,
skirmishes against the author
raging along the borders of every page
in tiny black script.
If I could just get my hands on you,
Kierkegaard, or Conor Cruise O’Brien,
they seem to say,
I would bolt the door and beat some logic into your head.

Other comments are more offhand, dismissive –
“Nonsense.” “Please!” “HA!!” –
that kind of thing.
I remember once looking up from my reading,
my thumb as a bookmark,
trying to imagine what the person must look like
why wrote “Don’t be a ninny”
alongside a paragraph in The Life of Emily Dickinson.

Students are more modest
needing to leave only their splayed footprints
along the shore of the page.
One scrawls “Metaphor” next to a stanza of Eliot’s.
Another notes the presence of “Irony”
fifty times outside the paragraphs of A Modest Proposal.

Or they are fans who cheer from the empty bleachers,
Hands cupped around their mouths.
“Absolutely,” they shout
to Duns Scotus and James Baldwin.
“Yes.” “Bull’s-eye.” “My man!”
Check marks, asterisks, and exclamation points
rain down along the sidelines.

And if you have managed to graduate from college
without ever having written “Man vs. Nature”
in a margin, perhaps now
is the time to take one step forward.

We have all seized the white perimeter as our own
and reached for a pen if only to show
we did not just laze in an armchair turning pages;
we pressed a thought into the wayside,
planted an impression along the verge.

Even Irish monks in their cold scriptoria
jotted along the borders of the Gospels
brief asides about the pains of copying,
a bird signing near their window,
or the sunlight that illuminated their page-
anonymous men catching a ride into the future
on a vessel more lasting than themselves.

And you have not read Joshua Reynolds,
they say, until you have read him
enwreathed with Blake’s furious scribbling.

Yet the one I think of most often,
the one that dangles from me like a locket,
was written in the copy of Catcher in the Rye
I borrowed from the local library
one slow, hot summer.
I was just beginning high school then,
reading books on a davenport in my parents’ living room,
and I cannot tell you
how vastly my loneliness was deepened,
how poignant and amplified the world before me seemed,
when I found on one page

A few greasy looking smears
and next to them, written in soft pencil-
by a beautiful girl, I could tell,
whom I would never meet-
“Pardon the egg salad stains, but I’m in love.”


© Billy Collins



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