Concept

“I picked up the book again, and this time it opened at the title-page, and I read the dedication. ‘Max – from Rebecca. 17 May,’ written in a curious slanting hand. A little blob of ink marred the white page opposite, as though the writer, in impatience, had shaken her pen to make the ink flow freely. And then as it bubbled through the nib, it came a little thick, so that the name Rebecca stood out black and strong, the tall and sloping R dwarfing the other letters… I could see her turning to that first white page, smiling as she wrote, and shaking the bent nib. Max from Rebecca. It must have been his birthday, and she had put it amongst her other presents on the breakfast table. And they had laughed together as he tore off the paper and string. She leant, perhaps, over his shoulder, while he read. Max. She called him Max. It was familiar, gay, and easy on the tongue. The family could call him Maxim if they liked. Grandmothers and aunts. And people like myself, quiet and dull and youthful, who did not matter. Max was her choice, the word was her possession; she had written it with so great a confidence on the fly-leaf of that book. That bold slanting hand, stabbing the white paper, the symbol of herself, so certain, so assured.”

Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca

Or, put simply, a load of dedications I’ve found written inside second-hand books.

Or, put less-simply, here’s a piece I wrote about it for The Guardian:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2011/jan/11/stories-book-inscriptions

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Published on August 22, 2010 at 7:51 am  Comments (11)  

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wayne. My dad sent your article in Guardian. I share a similar secret fetish for picking up old books and reading what people scribbled in them; little notes on the side, dedications, names,dates and places. It just gives the book so much more character and history. Every books tells a story and has a story.
    I love your article, I love your blog.
    I often pick up my dads old books and secretly relish the little scribbles inside them..

    Just wanted to drop by and tell you so. A drop in the ocean of comments perhaps.

    Thank you. When I read the article you wrote, i smacked my head and exclaimed to myself in a rather loud voice – ‘Why didnt I think of that’

    🙂

  2. Thanks Kamil. And sincere apologies for only replying to you now – have only just seen your comment. I thought I was being notified about comments. Obviously not!

  3. Another great thing about used bookshops: finding receipts tucked into the pages. Once, I was lucky to find an old postcard (bookmark?) and it was an even more enjoyable read than the book itself.

    I love your blog.

    • Hi BR – so sorry to have taken so long to get round to replying, but many thanks.

      Best

      Wayne.

  4. I stumbled across your blog and I love it! It’s a great idea, I will have to spend some time reading through all the dedications you’ve posted so far!

    • Thanks TC!

  5. This is a wonderful blog. I’m so glad I stumbled across it from Twitter. I love the personality expressed in handwriting – and even more so from the inscriber’s choice of book. It reaches out to you across the years, showing us that really we’re all alike. Will be following!

    • Thanks Lucy!

  6. I chanced upon your blog via your recent story that ran in The Guardian. Love the idea behind it and great writing!

    I love how one can imagine the relationship between the inscriber and the recipient based on what the former has chosen to write (and to leave out). There have been several occasions when the decision to buy a secondhand book was made for me by a thoughtful inscription on the flyleaf!

  7. I just love this! What a great idea for a blog!

    • Thanks Middlebrowreader!


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