Just met with a student who has never tried writing marginalia. We had a good 20-minute conversation about what writing marginalia as you read (I forgot about the use of it in re-reading…drat) does for you. We looked at the years of accreted marginalia in my copies of “Song of Myself” and James’s essay, “The Art of Fiction.”
The reason it even came up, marginalia, is that my student–a very good student–had noticed another student’s extensive side commentary and underlining and noticed this precisely because he, himself has never tried it.
It made me remember — marginalia writing is “natural” to me now, but there was a time when it was new to me, too. I’m guessing that we ought to be “teaching” this in literature classes, maybe by just occasionally making a pitch for it? I think I used to do that but I have fallen away from it. I’m going to try to get back to it.