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Subject:
From:
Patrick McCarthy <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Charles Dickens Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Date:
Thu, 27 Apr 1995 11:55:22 -0700
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        Alyce Steidler <[log in to unmask]> piqued interest
by asking about what she heard was "a commonplace book" kept by
Dickens and asks for any evidence that Dickens kept a journal.

        Robert Newsom, below, gives specific information about
the journal edited by Fred Kaplan.
        Goldie Morgantaler and Linda Hooper refer to a lost diary
that has been used by investigators into the Dickens-Ternan affair.
        Ardis Parshall and Meri-Jane Rochelson reflect on commonplace
books, which for Ardis serve an amusing purpose.

I.
In Claire Tomlinson's book about Ellen Ternan mention is made of a
lost diary which Dickens kept, which, I believe was recently found
and provided Tomlinson with some of the biographical detail that she
used in her book. I don't have the Tomlinson book before me, but I
can check more specifically if anyone is interested.  I believe Ellen
is referred to there by the letter N.

Goldie Morgentaler <[log in to unmask]>

II.
Ada Nisbet collected all evidence she could find regarding Dickens and Ternan,
and someone has looked at Dickens's commonplace book to attempt to prove that
he had a child by Ternan, and to show where they held their assignations. In
her collection are articles with facsimilies of the daily journal. I believe
that Dickens lost his journal on one of his trips to the US, and it was
recently recovered. Is this all well known, or should I go look for it, when I
have some spare time? (this is much more interesting than what I SHOULD be
doing, of course.)

Linda Hooper, UCSC

III.
I would guess that what was meant was the memorandum book he kept for
about a ten-year period and published in facsimile by the NYPL and edited
by Fred Kaplan.

        ****************************************************************
        Robert Newsom   Department of English and Comparative Literature
        University of California, Irvine           Irvine, CA 92717-2650
        Phone:(714) 824-6744 ***************** Internet: [log in to unmask]

IV.
Like you, I wouldn't expect Dickens to have turned to writing in his free
time either.  But a "commonplace" book isn't really a journal in the sense
of a diary or daily record of life events and thoughts.  It is a place for
copying bits and pieces of other people's writing, either because you
want to think about them further, or because you want to refer back to
them and don't want to have to go to the trouble of returning to the
original source.

I keep such a commonplace book on my laptop -- partly for keeping track
of paragraphs that appeal to me, partly because then I can read
interesting things in boring meetings while everyone thinks I'm working.
(Gee, I hope nobody from the office also subscribes to this list...)

Ardis Parshall <[log in to unmask]>

V.
Commonplace books were more collections of items found in reading than
self-expressive journals as we think of them.  George Eliot kept several that
were published in the early 1980s, as the Middlemarch notebooks, edited by
Victor Neufeldt and another scholar (to whom I apologize if he's on this list
for forgetting his name) and A Writer's Notebook, edited by Joseph Wiesenfarth.
Both are fascinating in connection with Eliot's fiction and essays, as I
imagine a Dickens commonplace book would be in connection with his published
work.  The quotations noted might be a phrase or whole paragraphs; in
general the reason for copying them down is not noted, though sometimes it is.

Meri-Jane Rochelson <[log in to unmask]>
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