Friday, July 11, 2008

Keeping a Commonplace Book

[Image from the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.]

A commonplace book is what a provident poet cannot subsist without, for this proverbial reason, that "great wits have short memories:" and whereas, on the other hand, poets, being liars by profession, ought to have good memories; to reconcile these, a book of this sort, is in the nature of a supplemental memory, or a record of what occurs remarkable in every day's reading or conversation. There you enter not only your own original thoughts, (which, a hundred to one, are few and insignificant) but such of other men as you think fit to make your own, by entering them there. For, take this for a rule, when an author is in your books, you have the same demand upon him for his wit, as a merchant has for your money, when you are in his.

--- Jonathan Swift
"A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet"
Quoted at Blogs, Definitions and Commonplace Books

Through the Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival, I stumbled on last week's post about commonplace books from one of my favorite homeschool bloggers, Harmony Art Mom:
(I really must subscribe to her feed, so I don't miss these things!)

Do you have a quotation journal that you've started and left to gather dust? I have at least three of them, but now I feel inspired to dig one out and start collecting quotes again. It's great fun, it provides fodder for my co-op class blackboard, and it sets a good example for my young scholars. Commonplace books have been used for centuries by readers and scholars, and at least one professor still requires students to keep one.

If you've never kept a quote book before, here are some ideas to get you started:
  • Commonplace Books
    A commonplace page about commonplace books, from the professor mentioned above.

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