Literary Blogging II

David Myers at A Commonplace Blog begins his summing up of the literary blogging interviews (links to the last seven are posted below) by noting:

After nearly two weeks of reflection on book blogging by some of the best bloggers out there, what have we learned? That book blogging expands the range of book discussion. That it is a form of literary criticism, however implicitly. That it is more conversational but also more ephemeral than formal criticism. That it may be cynical, but is always rooted in a love for books. That it is still in its infancy. That the audience for it is small. That it is unpaid.

After reading the symposiasts who participated in The Function of Book Blogging at the Present Time, I am encouraged by the wit, knowledge, and book sense on exhibition in a few well-tended parks of the literary blogscape. But I am also discouraged about the future of book blogging. I no longer believe, as I once did, that book blogs might revive a free-wheeling and raucous literary culture. The source of my discouragement is our symposiasts’ conception of blogging. Terry Teachout puts it best: blogging is “introspection made public.

I began blogging a little over a year ago. I am sure there were several reasons although who can ever be sure of one’s motives or their recollections of why they did something? I know I found increasing pleasure in reading and wanted to talk about it with someone or, at least, give expression to my thoughts. I thought blogging about what I was reading might be one way to start. It might also help me to clarify the ideas I was reading about and why I did or didn’t like the material. Everyone seemed to be doing it. I thought why not give it a try.

My initial plan was simply to post some of the notable passages from the books and periodicals I had read over the years. The passages were to be drawn from my Commonplace Book where they were kept throughout this time. I recall my first post was a sample of the forty-five passages I had saved from Ian McEwan’s Saturday.

My model was the “Commonplace Section” from each issue of the American Scholar. They consist of extracts from various authors who have written about a particular topic, listed on two pages of this publication without commentary or analysis. For example, recent topics have included Loafing, Change, Failure, Marriage, and in the most recent issue the timely theme of Debt.

It hasn’t really turned out that way at all. Instead, I have found so much to write about in the books I’ve been reading lately and the abundant material on the Web, that I’ve not really had a chance to post very many passages from my Commonplace Book.

My hope is to begin doing that selectively. I’ve read so many fine books over the years and saved page after page of passages from them, that there’s a great deal to discuss, although it does require a pretty good memory of the story and characters. I think the best approach would be to take some of the best passages and respond to them in the form of annotations. I will try to do that more frequently during the next year of blogging.

The Neglected Books Page

On The Seawall

Nota Bene Books

I’ve Been Reading Lately

House of Mirth

Anecdotal Evidence

A Commonplace Blog