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Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Notes and queries

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 10 January 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:101
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

    When, many years ago, I began to frequent second-hand bookshops, I would reject as damaged or soiled those books with marginal notes written by previous owners. Nowadays, however, I often find the annotations more interesting than the books themselves; and recently in a second-hand bookshop I found irresistible a slim volume entitled Marginal Notes by Lord Macaulay, “selected and arranged” by his nephew, Sir George Otto Trevelyan, and published in 1907. I couldn’t resist it.

    “Macaulay’s library,” writes Trevelyan, “contained many books, of no great intrinsic value in themselves, which are readable, from the first page to the last, for the sake of his manuscript notes inscribed in immense profusion down their margins.” As an instance, he …

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