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Notas ou
comentários pessoais escritos na margem de um livro, normalmente
registando impressões de leitura, reflexões breves, anotações
bibliográficas ou de carácter erudito, ou simples notas de
interpretação textual, que podem constituir uma marca distintiva
de um leitor. É possível reconstruir os modos de leitura de um
escritor, por exemplo, a partir das suas anotações a certas
obras, como aconteceu nos casos mais conhecidos de Coleridge ou
Melville. Edgar Alan Poe confessou a prática de anotações nas
margens dos livros e distinguiu-a do memoradum, num texto
intitulado “Marginalia”:

“In getting my books, I have been always solicitous of an
ample margin; this not so much through any love of the thing
in itself, however agreeable, as for the facility it affords
me of pencilling suggested thoughts, agreements, and
differences of opinion, or brief critical comments in
general. Where what I have to note is too much to be
included within the narrow limits of a margin, I commit it
to a slip of paper, and deposit it between the leaves;
taking care to secure it by an imperceptible portion of gum
tragacanth paste.

   All this may be whim; it may be not only a very
hackneyed, but a very idle practice;— yet I persist in it
still; and it affords me pleasure; which is profit, in
despite of Mr. Bentham, with Mr. Mill on his back.

   This making of notes, however, is by no means the making
of mere memorandum — a custom which has its disadvantages,
beyond doubt "Ce que je mets sur papier," says Bernadine de
St. Pierre, "je remets de ma memoire et par consequence je
l’oublie;" — and, in fact, if you wish to forget anything
upon the spot, make a note that this thing is to be

   But the purely marginal jottings, done with no eye to the
Memorandum Book, have a distinct complexion, and not only a
distinct purpose, but none at all; this it is which imparts
to them a value. They have a rank somewhat above the chance
and desultory comments of literary chit-chat — for these
latter are not unfrequently "talk for talk’s sake," hurried
out of the mouth; while the marginalia are
deliberately pencilled, because the mind of the reader
wishes to unburthen itself of a thought;— however flippant
—- however silly — however trivial — still a thought indeed,
not merely a thing that might have been a thought in time,
and under more favorable circumstances. In the marginalia,
too, we talk only to ourselves” (Democratic Review,
Novembro de 1844)

A anotação
marginal de um texto é um trabalho solitário. Na maior parte das
vezes, a marginalia está destinada ao domínio privado do
leitor e não tem como objectivo ser divulgada.


H. J. Jackson: Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books (2001)