‘The Theatre of the Book’: Marginalia and Mise en Page in the Cardiff Rare Books Restoration Drama Collection

January 8, 2014

Cardiff Book History

by Melanie Bigold*

Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, Occasional Publications No. 1

The Bigold abstractvalue-added aspect of both marginalia and provenance has long been recognized.  Ownership marks and autograph annotations from well-known writers or public figures increase the intellectual interest as well as monetary value of a given book. Handwritten keys, pointers, and marginal glosses can help to reveal unique, historical information unavailable in the printed text; information that, in turn, can be used to reconstruct various reading and interpretive experiences of the past. However, increasingly scholars such as Alan Westphall have acknowledged that the ‘study of marginalia and annotations’ results in ‘microhistory, producing narratives that are often idiosyncratic.’ While twenty to fifty percent of early modern texts have some sort of marking in them, many of these forays in textual alterity are unsystematic and fail to address, as William Sherman notes, ‘the larger patterns that most literary and historical…

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