A Little Common Place Book
The commonplace book was the primary tool used by Enlightenment savants to record and classify valuable thoughts encountered in their reading. In the New York Review of Books Anthony Grafton describes the importance of such books to one reader:
One ancient piece of literary technology, the commonplace book, enabled him to store everything that impressed him as he read and to find it again when he needed it. Pastorius copied, in his flowing, beautiful handwriting, every passage that struck him, placing them under topical headings and drawing up indexes as well. These notebooks became his most precious possession.
Grafton adds, “The preeminently modern John Locke compiled many [commonplace books], and even devised a new method for making them.”
A Little Common Place Book, published in partnership with Cabinet Magazine, reproduces a 1797 book attributed to Locke and which exists in a unique copy in the Princeton University library. Use this handsome cloth-bound blank book to record your own thoughts or those met in your reading. “Locke’s” essay will, if you like, teach you how to index your entries so that you can find them again with least trouble. Introduction by D. Graham Burnett.