notes on the text

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Goddamnit I hate these, tiny superscript numbers distracting my eye and making it stumble instead of flow over the words; the near inability to forget or ignore them even though I know they will only define some word - I have a dictionary thanks - or tell me some historical context I already figured out, or some irrelevant detail of fashion.

Are some imprints particularly bad for this? The Penguin Modern Classics version of The Go-Between I have just borrowed has 7 notes in the first two paras! Note 2 refers me to chapter 6, note 11 - what is this a Choose Your Own Adventure book? And chapter 6 note 11 has a spoiler! Fuck off!

ledge, Monday, 26 May 2008 17:56 (twelve years ago) link

I always try to avoid editions of fiction with notes on the text, but with non-fiction books I can't be happy unless I read them all as I go along, even when they're only citations.

Noodle Vague, Monday, 26 May 2008 18:08 (twelve years ago) link

I don't mind footnotes, but heavy endnoting of anything other than citations irritates me in the same. Oxford World Classics is the worst with this.

C0L1N B..., Monday, 26 May 2008 18:30 (twelve years ago) link

Yes, footnotes are infinitely preferable to endnotes. This Penguin Modern Classics is coming across more like a study guide, anything with any possible symbolic value has been noted and explained.

ledge, Monday, 26 May 2008 18:40 (twelve years ago) link

Chapter 15, n. 3: see chapter 10, n. 3
Chapter 10, n. 3: see chapter 4, n. 19
Chapter 4, n. 19: see Prologue, n. 14


ledge, Monday, 26 May 2008 20:38 (twelve years ago) link

im enjoying the idea of thinking of endnotes as a choose yr own adventure type situation

jhøshea, Monday, 26 May 2008 20:40 (twelve years ago) link

Hate this. *Especially* when there are actually things I don't know. Like I was reading Conrad's The Shadow-Line the other day, and there's all sorts of nautical terms in there that I don't know, so I kept on flipping to the back for the freaking notes, and, of course, the value you get from the knowledge in the note is never worth the interruption to the flow of your reading. I sort of train myself to ignore them and tell myself that I read books including some words I don't know ALL THE TIME and I still do alright.

G00blar, Monday, 26 May 2008 20:42 (twelve years ago) link

I like notes but I hate them if placed at the back: on the same page PLZ!! (even if say Marx had these huge footnotes that would take up most of the next page a lot of the time)

If they're at the back I often make a quick note of the nos where something that looks interesting might be said, so I don't have to keep going backwards and forwards all the time.

xyzzzz__, Monday, 26 May 2008 21:04 (twelve years ago) link

I don't mind them if they text will genuinely not make sense without them, but alas that's not usually the case. What also bugs me are non-American books that have been end-noted on the assumption that Americans have no brains. My wife was reading a critical edition of something recently that was end-noting stuff like 'footpath'.

James Morrison, Monday, 26 May 2008 23:13 (twelve years ago) link

What is a "footpath"?

dell, Monday, 26 May 2008 23:15 (twelve years ago) link

It is a soothing path full of epsom salts.

Aimless, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 00:50 (twelve years ago) link

No no, isn't it a path marked off in feet, so you know how far you've gone?

Jaq, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 02:56 (twelve years ago) link

When I read Tristram Shandy, I enjoyed the endnotes (which -- I can't remember if they were marked in the text or not? or if it was just "page 37: Blah blah blah" in the endnotes), they gave me a goal during the duller bits. Ah, there's a note in 4 pages, I can totally make it!

Casuistry, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 03:12 (twelve years ago) link

Somebody, maybe James Atlas, wrote a funny thing about this once, about the preface that warns you not to expect too much from the book you are about to read, about the endless endnotes, about the time they went so far as to include an atlas (!). The conclusion was "these people don't really like literature and are trying to protect you from it."

James Redd and the Blecchs, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 03:25 (twelve years ago) link

i love notes

thomp, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 12:46 (twelve years ago) link

i had this old penguin classics ed of moby-dick where harold beaver (i think) had pretty much equalled the word count of moby-dick, it was fantastic

thomp, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 12:47 (twelve years ago) link

radio 4 - "the rise of the footnote"

Tracer Hand, Tuesday, 27 May 2008 20:25 (twelve years ago) link

twelve years pass...

Love this piece on the note-taking method used by this German scholar:

xyzzzz__, Tuesday, 8 December 2020 22:09 (four months ago) link

I use ConnectedText in a similar manner to take notes which are then stored in HTML (though there are options for a variety of formats) - it has proved well worth the $40 lifetime license fee for various projects. I would definitely recommend trying the free trial!

knowing for certain the first touch of the light will finish you (fionnland), Tuesday, 8 December 2020 22:26 (four months ago) link

Thanks for that link xyz (and fionnland). I'd never heard of Zettelkasten before, but I definitely have a need for such a system. I'm very bad w/ markdown, so I might test drive ConnectedText.

A Scampo Darkly (Le Bateau Ivre), Wednesday, 9 December 2020 08:00 (four months ago) link

zettelkasten is really useful if *fucking* time consuming (ie taking up a load of time to write up my braudel notes). it’s all about the metadata and standardising your data structures really. there are good tools out there like roam which are particularly well suited to zettelkasten.

Fizzles, Wednesday, 9 December 2020 08:14 (four months ago) link

I think I've hopped from tool to tool the last fifteen odd years, never fully landing on something that really does what I want, or feels like it lolunderstands my personal intuition. I guess I really have to dive into markdown first before using something like Roam productively. It just doesn't come naturally to me, which is annoying.

A Scampo Darkly (Le Bateau Ivre), Wednesday, 9 December 2020 08:32 (four months ago) link

Roam might be similar to Zettelkasten organisational principles, but surely the whole "rent by the month/year" principle is entirely counter to "a lifetime of thinking"? (Only being able to rent not buy software is one of my huge bugbears and is genuinely making me pissed off just thinking about it, sorry.)

emil.y, Wednesday, 9 December 2020 15:42 (four months ago) link

yes, definitely agree, i would certainly only put notes somewhere they can be exported as plain .txt or markdown files. the endless search for a satisfactory notes taking tool does continue, though i have been using the follow up to nvalt, which supposedly has these features in but which is being developed *incredibly* slowly. also i work across windows 10 (work) and my mac (personal), which only adds to the complication.

Fizzles, Sunday, 13 December 2020 11:36 (three months ago) link

That's a great article xyz. I wish I'd started something like that all those years ago, even if I suspect it'd be a rambling, half-arsed mess.

My notetaking is a shambles and it pains me how much I've lost, have trapped in books/on bits of paper, buried in Evernote. I *think* I'm OK with a certain amount of entropy, to be honest, as I'm not even really sure what all the notetaking is even for. I used to have pretensions of being a writer but really, who am I kidding? And the project of simply becoming a better human with a semi-coherent philosophy is loose enough for it not to really matter, I suppose. Eh. Maybe I'll just go back to the sticks and tortoise shell.

Vanishing Point (Chinaski), Sunday, 13 December 2020 12:05 (three months ago) link

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