On Reading Commonplace Books

I’ve never read another person’s commonplace book. I’ve skimmed a few of those that have been printed and the first page or so of an unpublished commonplace book of another reader. But I’ve yet to read one from page to page as one would read a book. I would like to do so, however, and is my want undertake a study along the lines suggested by a friend—“To read someone else's commonplace book is to stand at a keyhole and peer into who they are.” What a difficult task that would be.” Like another person’s letters or journals, it is one approach to beginning to understand someone, at least, insofar as they are not simulating in these forms of personal expression. Perhaps a person’s commonplace book might even be more truthful, since it is unlikely the keeper would believe it would ever be examined by someone else. I also think it would be instructive for each keeper to analyze their own commonplace book with an eye to knowing themselves a little better.

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