Friday, November 11, 2011


I have a friend who wants to be so famous that, one day, people clamor for her personal library so they can extensively research her marginalia.

If I were to become that famous, I'm afraid, aside from my textbooks, it would all be a blank.  And who really wants to know the thought process of a person figuring out quantum mechanics?  (Wow, I suddenly realized that it made it look like I actually had something to share.  Don't be misled.  My marginalia is simply filling in the blanks of the parts that most authors write off as, "It can be easily shown...")

Marginalia really is a curious thing.  Once, when I was reading an early edition of The Wheat Princess by Jean Webster, checked out from the UVa Library, I found, written next to the text, a line from the book Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott.  I felt an instant connection with some unknown other reader that spanned time and space.  There were other people like me -- who spent their childhoods consuming regular and large doses of Alcott, Webster and Montgomery?  (Most people, you see, have never read any of Alcott beyond Little Women and never heard of Jean Webster)  I flipped impatiently through the rest of the book looking for other marginalia.  I think I even went to the Alcott section of the library and searched through a few books.  Who was this person?  What had this person gained from the reading of such books, how had it changed this person's perspectives and the manner in which this person lived?

I felt that connection once when I was watching, of all things, a Korean drama.  There was a man who was trying to quietly help a girl through some difficult time.  As is the normal course of a kdrama, she was probably a penniless orphan who was cheerful and determined and the man was the son of the richest man in Korea, except actually his father was rich only because he pilfered all the money from the orphan's richer father who died in a tragic car accident.  Anyway, the brother/best friend/cousin who was also secretly in love with the orphan girl got angry and demanded, "Who do you think you are - her Daddy Long Legs?"

I stopped and stared.  Daddy Long Legs?  As in the book I currently own two copies of, by Jean Webster?  Not the spider?

When I mention Daddy Long Legs to my friends, once we've established that I'm not talking about the spider, someone might pipe up, "Oh, do you mean that movie starring Fred Astaire?"

"Yes but No."  (That movie though runs a lot like other American "Based upon the novel" movies - as in, they have the same title and maybe the same character names but nothing else in common.)

And now you're telling me that there are people - possibly even an entire culture of people - who understand that reference?

Who knew my world was so small?


  1. Daddy Long Legs is a movie? I didn't even know.

  2. I've never seen it. I have seen the Korean movie Daddy Long Legs which is a twist off the book in a modern retelling. Very interesting.