n.b.: I'll update this page as the ideas develop further, so check back at this URL from time to time if the topic interests you14 Jan 1999
I'm wrestling with the Big Question of the morning, and maybe the century:Here's a brief definition I found at http://metalab.unc.edu/ibic/Commonplace-Book.html (and see links therein to collected items):?how to inspire people to put in the time exploring and reading to find the trenchant passages that INSPIRE further thought and exploring and reading?That's after all what we're about, among other things. I think _I_ made that turn early in college years, though I didn't get really active in that mode until later. Once upon a time the adventurous kept Commonplace Books to accumulate their found gems and ruminations. Hypertextual Commonplace Books are not just within our grasp... we're already making them (leastaways that's what I seem to have been doing all this time). Maybe _that's_ how we need to pitch it to them?
Commonplace book (n.): an edited collection of striking passages noted in a single place for future reference.A bit of hunting turned up some nice sites to do with commonplace books:
There was a time when commonplace books were a popular way for civilized men and women to record striking passages they found in their reading. Who can forget the electrifying effect that some thoughts have on us when we encounter them for the first time? The commonplace book is a way of memorializing those striking passages so that one can return to them for renewed inspiration.
Research is what happens when you think you're doing something else. I collect Victorian commonplace books, which I suppose were the forerunners of books like Notes and Queries here or the Straight Dope series in the States. And I also keep a look-out for old and slightly skewed reference books, of which Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable is merely the best known. And if you put enough bits and pieces together in one place, you start making connections. I don't know. We're getting pretty close to the old 'Where do you get your ideas from?' question.
(from The Definitive Interview)
Cindy happened to mention to me that she'd noticed an E.M. Forster Commonplace Book while she was getting Hornblower novels (C.S. Forester) in Leyburn. Here's the Annie record:
While I was in the vicinity I found a couple of others in (more or less) the genre:AUTHOR Forster, E. M. (Edward Morgan), 1879-1970. TITLE Commonplace book / E.M. Forster ; edited by Philip Gardner. PUBLISHER Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, c1987. SUBJECT Forster, E. M. (Edward Morgan), 1879-1970 -- Notebooks, sketchbooks, etc. Commonplace-books. Leyburn Library PR6011.O85 C66 1987
...which just goes to show what fun can be had by trolling the shelves.AUTHOR Auden, W. H. (Wystan Hugh), 1907-1973. TITLE A certain world; a commonplace book [selected by] W. H. Auden. PUBLISHER New York, Viking Press  SUBJECT Commonplace-books. Leyburn Library PN6245 .A9 AUTHOR Gooch, Richard, d. 1849. TITLE Oxford and Cambridge nuts to crack : or, Quips, quirks, anecdote and facetiae of Oxford and Cambridge scholars / by the author of "Facetiae cantabrigienses" ; illustrated with designs .. EDITION 2d ed., cor. and enl. PUBLISHER London : A. H. Baily & Co., 1835. SUBJECT Anecdotes. University of Cambridge -- Anecdotes. University of Oxford -- Anecdotes. Leyburn Library PN6251 .G6 1835
Here's the OED entry:
'common'place-book. Formerly Book of common places
orig. A book in which `commonplaces' or passages important for reference were collected, usually under general heads; hence, a book in which one records passages or matters to be especially remembered or referred to, with or without arrangement.1578 Cooper Thesaurus Introd., A studious yong man..may gather to himselfe good furniture both of words and approved phrases..and to make to his use as it were a common place booke.1599 Marston Sco. Villanie iii. xi. 226 Now I haue him, that..Hath made a common-place booke out of playes, And speakes in print.1642 Fuller Holy & Prof. St; iii. x. 176 A Common-place-book contains many notions in garrison, whence the owner may draw out an army into the field.1668 Hale Pref. Rolle's Abr., I have commended the making and using of a Common-place-Book, as the best expedient that I know, for the orderly and profitable study of the Law.A. 1794 Gibbon Autobiog. 83, I..filled a folio commonplace-book with my collections and remarks on the geography of Italy.1837-9 Hallam Hist. Lit. II. ii. i. 35 note, They..registered all his table-talk in commonplace-books alphabetically arranged.
I've started a weblet on bricolage