Thursday, August 01, 2013

Epigraph from Page 100

Serious posting probably will be sporadic at best, but how about some idea-games? Here's one I occasionally play myself, which has come to mind since I will be moving an extraordinary number of books over the next week or so. I take the first full sentence off a given page (in this case, I'll use page 100, but it has to be a page that is actually numbered with that number) of several different books, and if they are interesting, try to think of what kind of treatise, poem, short story, or novel they might be epigraphs to, either singly or by mixing and matching. Close or elaborate detail is not necessary, nor do you have to worry about the original context, although you can if you want. Here are a few from my library; if they were epigraphs, what might their works be like?

James Boswell, Boswell on the Grand Tour: Germany and Switzerland, 1764. Pottle, tr. (Yale 1953).
I said, "Madame, if I had stayed here longer, I am sure you would have liked me better."

George MacDonald, Diary of an Old Soul. (Augsburg 1994).
Remember, Lord, Thou hast not made me good.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil. Kaufmann, tr. (Vintage 1966).
In short, moralities are also merely a sign language of the affects.

Haddon W. Robinson, What Jesus Said about Successful Living. (Discovery House 1988).
The mark of Palestinian cities is that they are always in view.

La Rouchefoucauld, Maxims. (Penguin 1959).
Young people making their début in society should be bashful or scatterbrained, for an efficient or assured manner usually looks like impertinence.

Lee Wyndham, Writing for Children & Teenagers. (Writer's Digest 1980).
While setting down chapter incidents, I try to think in terms of drama, scene interest, setting, action, emotion.

George MacDonald, Phantastes. (Eerdmans 1981).
"I will not wait to be willing," cried Cosimo, and sprang to the corner where the great sword stood.

Diana Wynne Jones, Fire and Hemlock. (Harper Collins 1985).
When school started, Polly began training seriously to be a hero.

David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature. (Oxford 1978).
We shadow out the objects of our faith, say they, in sensible types and images, and render them more present to us by the immediate presence of these types, than 'tis possible for us to do, merely by an intellectual view and contemplation.


  1. Yes; I
    assumed you meant books already written, so the Boswell quote might be an
    epigraph for Camus’L’√Čtranger –MacDonald’s first quote might work for ‘Macbeth’—Nietzsche’s, for
    perhaps several books by Foucault—La Rochefoucauld’s, for Waugh’ Vile Bodies—and
    the one by Hume, for something by Miss O’Connor,
    or something like her works …. Or, they might work for kindred writings, as
    well ….

  2. As for
    myself, I would be interesting in writing something related to the motto by Nietzsche;
    perhaps it would look like something Nietzsche’s disciples would have written a
    century ago.

    Wyndham’s is a good advice. D. W. Jones’s
    is somewhat intriguing, for what it might mean. Robinson’s might serve a droll
    story, a historical fantasy, etc.. (I think mostly in terms of fiction inspired
    by the quotes you gave.)

  3. MrsDarwin3:42 PM

    I'm not clever with the epigraphs right now, but I would certainly read the works with the epigraphs by Boswell (perhaps the collected sayings of Winston Churchill) and La Rouchefoucald (Miss Manners ca. Boston 1895).

    I've just finished a batch of books, and I'm going to have to wait to assemble an Amazon order since my local library hasn't been forthcoming on what I want to read next, so here's the ones that are still going:

    Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina. (Macrae Smith Company, ninth printing -- it's an old book with no date).
    The ball was only just beginning as Kitty and her mother walked up the great staircase, flooded with light, and lined with flowers and footmen in powder and red coats.

    Elisabeth Leseur, Selected Writings. (Paulist 2005).
    To love with a more lively and faithful love; to practice the threefold apostolate of prayer, of atoning penance, and of action through good works, words, writing, and example.

    Junior Great Books, Series Eleven. (The Great Books Foundation).
    Page 100 is blank, but this is the first sentence of page 101.
    Isaiah Berlin is best known for his writing on the history of ideas and political theory.

    Marian Janssen, The Kenyon Review 1939-1970, A Critical History. (Louisiana State University Press, 1990).
    The idea was originally Morton Dauwen Zabel's, but Warren had proposed a 1943 centenary special on Henry James for The Southern Review as early as April 1941, as "such issues may easily take a year or a year and a half to prepare properly."
    (This is an exceedingly dry history of an obscure and defunct literary magazine, and the only reason I'm still looking at it is that I promised it to someone because it had a few anecdotes about Flannery O'Connor, and now I feel almost duty-bound to read it before it leaves the house.)

    The only good epigraph here is from Elisabeth Leseur.

    How big is your library these days?

  4. branemrys9:23 PM

    That's a good question. I know I have somewhere around 70 Heritage Press volumes (includes some two-parters), which are a significant amount shelf-space but a small portion of my total number of books, and definitely over 60 feet of shelfspace. But it's hard to say; I'm overflowing at every point.

  5. MrsDarwin10:07 AM

    When the movers packed us up, they were dismayed to find that the 80 boxes they had originally allotted for books were not enough -- and that was three years ago, before we inherited our library (hence The Kenyon Review).

    Hope your moving goes smoothly -- sorry we can't offer to help you as you offered to help us.


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