"Twain was engaging in marginalia, writing comments alongside passages and sometimes giving an author a piece of his mind. It is a rich literary pastime, sometimes regarded as a tool of literary archaeology.”
It’s a busy time at work. I’ve been looking at dozens of manuscripts each day, many of which are brimming with pretentious words that serve no urgent purpose (Utilize? Please).
Marginalia is surely such a word. Shouldn’t I hate it? I just looked up the suffix -alia, having only an intuitive idea of its meaning, and learned that “marginalia” could refer to ”items connected with the particular area of activity or interest mentioned [the margins].” So marginalia could serve as a verb to describe sidebar scribbling, but also a collective noun that encompasses a mish-mash of pushed-aside, peripheral things: hole-in-the-wall Chinese takeaway places, nerds, antique shops, performance art. I’m practically a conaisseur of marginalia, and I just learned what it was.
Marginalia. It would the perfect name for an underground ‘zine, should I ever be moved to start one.
(quotation from The New York Times via teachingliteracy)
(Source: The New York Times)