How do you read this magazine?
I really am curious about that. Reading as a thing fascinates me. Alberto Manguel, in his A History of Reading, notes that the first trustworthy account in Western literature of someone reading silently dates from the fourth century—Saint Augustine's note about how surprised he was by the way Saint Ambrose read. Our customary silent reading did not become widespread in Europe until the 10th century. Until then, those who could read mostly did so aloud.
In grade school, we were admonished not to move our lips while we read silently. We were also forbidden to make notes in our textbooks. This made more sense; those books had to last for years in a cash-strapped school district. So no marginalia survive from my first reading of Antigone or Romeo and Juliet or The Catcher in the Rye.
Today there is lively scholarship in marginalia and what it says about how people read. You can read about it—out loud, if you like—in this issue. "In the Margins" by Bret McCabe delves into the Archaeology of Reading project, which has begun digitizing books heavily annotated by Gabriel Harvey, who was a professional reader in 16th-century England. Reading for Harvey was a dialogue, an interrogation, a making of connections, and above all an active intellectual exercise.
Back to reading this magazine. Are you a front-to-back reader, or do you start with Class Notes? Read short pieces on a sleepy weeknight and save feature stories for Sunday afternoon? Do you just read us for the cartoons? (I hope not—there aren't any.) Do you dog-ear the pages, tear things out to save, or read us partly in print and partly online? We're planning a substantial reader survey for next year that will ask some of those questions. But for now, let me just say thank you for reading. And please feel free to move your lips.
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