As an academic you’re supposed to underline passages in the books you read and scribble notes in the margins. So when you open my copy of Gaskell’s North and South on page 66 (= end of Chapter VII), you’ll find the following:

But when they removed to their new house in Milton, the obnoxious papers were gone. The landlord received their thanks very composedly; and let them think, if they liked, that he had relented from his expressed determination not to repaper. There was no particular need to tell them, that what he did not care to do for a Reverend Mr Hale, unknown in Milton, he was only too glad to do at the one short sharp remonstrance of Mr Thornton, the welathy manufacturer.

writes Gaskell, and Sandy has underlined the last sentence of this paragraph and added

shows Thornton’s power in Milton
+from the very beginning he
cares 🙂 & takes care of the Hales

I used to think that I had to make serious comments in the margins, comments that showed my academic insight. Notes in the margins, I believed, had to be serious and reflective, proof of my excellent understanding of the text. Perhaps you’ve already guessed from the smiley-face in the comment above that somewhere along the way I ditched this calm & serious approach. Therefore you’ll also find comments like this in my copy of N&S:

Henry is a jerk!

serves as a commentary on this passage from Chapter L, when Henry Lennox tells Thornton:

“You think Miss Hale looking well,” said Mr Lennox, “don’t you? Milton didn’t agree with her, I imagine; for when she first came to London, I thought I had never seen any one so much changed.”



was my comment on this sentence from Chapter XXVI, when Thornton has just been rejected by Margaret:

It would have been a relief to him, if he could have sat down and cried on a door-step by a little child, who was raging and storming, through his passionate tears, at some injury he had received.

Awwww, indeed!

The comments in the books for my romance seminar next semester are bound to be interesting. *ggg*
My marginalia don’t look quite as pretty as the one pictured above from the Gutenberg Bible of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. 🙂