12 September 2011

The Keys of Great Authorship

Painting: Herman Nieg, Benedict of Nursia, 1926
The habit of journalizing becomes a life-long lesson in the art of composition, an informal schooling for authorship. And were the process of preparing their works for publication faithfully detailed by distinguished writers, it would appear how large were their indebtedness to their diary and commonplaces. How carefully should we peruse Shakespeare’s notes used in compiling his plays—what was his, what another’s—showing how these were fashioned into the shapely whole we read, how Milton composed, Montaigne, Goethe: by what happy strokes of thought, flashes of wit, apt figures, fit quotations snatched from vast fields of learning, their rich pages were wrought forth! This were to give the keys of great authorship!

Amos Bronson Alcott, Table-Talk of A. Bronson Alcott

Painting: Herman Nieg, Benedict of Nursia, 1926

A word from the editor
A commonplace book, or simply a "commonplace" is a scrapbook containing items of special significance to its creator. They can be poems, scientific facts, aphorisms or literary snippets. Commonplaces are used as an aid for cataloging quotes, recipes, interesting facts or otherwise useful pieces of information. A commonplace book serves needs, goals and interests unique to its creator.

See also: Blork's Literary Snippets


  1. Hi Gary! I nominated you for an award over on my blog today.


  2. Thank you Ruth! I wanted to leave a comment on your blog but the post refuses to register. This is my first experience with not being able to comment and now I know why I receive helpful complaints from readers who are unable to post here. The Blogspot platform is buggy!

  3. Hi Gary,
    New follower and campaigner. I appreciate this post. You've expressed what writers, authors and creators exercise when composing our work of words. Love the definitions at the footer (neat).
    Will visit back often.


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