The second page of the Table of Contents of David Markson’s copy of Tevye’s Daughters: Collected Stories of Sholom Aleichem by Sholom Aleichem:
On which Markson has placed two dashes/marks in the margin next to two stories:
1) “Tevye Goes to Palestine”
2) “Get Thee Out”
Both of these stories feature the character Tevye the Milkman.
Yes, also of The Fiddler on the Roof fame.
(The landmark Broadway musical was based on Sholom Aleichem’s stories.)
Otherwise known as:
“Tevya der Milchiger”
A name mentioned on pg. 49 of Markson’s novel Reader’s Block.
Pg. 195 of David Markson’s copy of Ezra Pound: Among the Poets by Various (Ed. George Bornstein):
On which Markson put quotation marks around the title of a chapter:
“The Contemporary of Our Grandchildren”
And then written in the margin:
“(Phrase is Kenner’s)”
The concept of Pound being “the contemporary of our grandchildren” is a fascinating idea which definitely is complicated by this quote of Pound’s as retold by Markson in his Conjunctions interview:
“Ezra Pound once said something like there’s no record of a critic saying anything important about writers who have come after him.”
Pgs. 416-417 of David Markson’s copy of The Complete Greek Drama: Volume One by Various (Ed. Whitney J. Oates & Eugene O’Neill, Jr.):
On which Markson underlined a number of the lines on the last two pages of Sophocles’ Oedipus the King (aka Oedipus Rex).
He also placed a pound sign and an exclamation point at the end of the play.
“Oedipus gouges out his eyes, Jocasta hangs herself, both guiltless; the play has come to a harmonious conclusion.
On pg. 4 of This Is Not A Novel.
(So there you have it a whole month’s worth of scans from The Complete Greek Drama, and we haven’t even done a quarter of the marginalia in those two books, and I even left some of the best stuff for later—like a whole diagram Markson drew in the back…)
Pg. 754 of David Markson’s copy of The Complete Greek Drama: Volume One by Various (Ed. Whitney J. Oates & Eugene O’Neill, Jr.):
On which Markson underlined three passages in Euripides’ Medea, just after the titular character has slain her children offstage:
1) “Thy sons are dead; slain by their own mother’s hand.”
2) “MEDEA appears above the house, on a chariot drawn by dragons; the children’s corpses are beside her.”
(This also gets an angular bracket marking in the margins.)
3) “Having borne me sons to glut thy passion’s lust, thou now hast slain them.”
(This also gets an X in the margins.)
The scene of Medea murdering her sons is not shown, interestingly enough.
“Not one of the violent moments in Greek tragedy occurs on stage. Medea murdering her sons, for instance. Or Orestes bloodying Clytemnestra.”
Wrote Markson on pg. 70 of Reader’s Block.
Pg. 443 of David Markson’s copy of The Complete Greek Drama: Volume Two by Various (Ed. Whitney J. Oates & Eugene O’Neill, Jr.):
On which Markson placed a line next to a speech in The Acharnians by Aristophanes spoken by Dicaepolis to Euripides:
“You perch aloft to compose tragedies, when you might just as well do them on the ground. No wonder you introduce cripples on the stage. And why do you dress in these miserable tragic rags? No wonder your heroes are beggars. But, Euripides, on my knees I beseech you, give me the tatters of some old piece; for I have to treat the Chorus to a long speech, and if I do it badly it is all over with me.”
This accusation of Euripides having often written about cripples and beggars is an accusation, apparently warranted, that Aristophanes made many times of Euripides.
“The frequent blind beggars in Euripides, particularly in plays now lost.
The crutch and cripple playwright, Aristophanes called him.”
- David Markson, The Last Novel, pg. 98.
(Speaking of blind beggars:
If you are not blind, you may have noticed that I have decided that all five posts this week will be from volumes one and two of The Complete Greek Drama, edited by Whitney J. Oates & Eugene O’Neill, Jr.)
Pg. xxvii of the Introduction of David Markson’s copy of Writers in Russia: 1917-1978 by Max Hayward:
On which Markson made a squiggle in the margins next to the sentence:
“Yet to one of his colleagues Max confided that he had gone blank when he caught sight of Stalin’s disability, which he had known nothing about.”
And underlined the words:
Markson makes mention of “Stalin’s disability” on pg. 66 of his novel Vanishing Point. There he questions:
“Was Stalin’s right arm withered, or was it his left?”
Pg. 174 of David Markson’s copy of The Brontës: A Collection of Critical Essays by Various (Ed. Ian Gregor):
On which Markson made marks next to the deaths of Emily, Anne and Charlotte Brontë.
And on which he wrote next to the death of Branwell Brontë:
And next to the death of Emily Brontë:
And next to the death of Anne Brontë:
And next to the death of Charlotte Brontë:
“-March 31” and “-No. Anne buried elsewhere.”
Sept 24th, 1848, Branwell Brontë dies.
December 19th, 1848, Emily Brontë dies.
May 28th, 1849, Anne Brontë dies.
March 31st, 1855, Charlotte Brontë dies.
Death proving to be perhaps the only certainty in life.
And thus, the only thing impossible to avoid.
Also apparently impossible to avoid:
“There would appear to be no way of avoiding the two dots over Brontë, however.”
Being what Markson mentions on pg. 96 of Wittgenstein’s Mistress.
Pg. 210 of David Markson’s copy of The Quest for Ulysses by W. B. Stanford and J. V. Luce:
On which Markson has crossed out the word “fight,” written “find” above that word and then placed an exclamation point in the margin.
In the text, Stanford and Luce are quoting Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “Ulysses” when they write:
“To strive, to seek, to fight, and not to yield.”
The problem is that they misquote Tennyson. The real quote is:
“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
There is quite a difference between the words “find” and “fight,” no?
Pg. 154 of David Markson’s copy of The Failure of Criticism by Henri Peyre:
On which Markson has made a squiggle in the margin next to a quote from Thomas Hardy’s journal explaining why he stopped writing:
“A man must be a fool to deliberately stand up to be shot at.”
This quote surfaces in Markson’s This Is Not A Novel on pg. 69:
“A man must be a fool to deliberately stand up and be shot at.
Said Hardy when he ceased writing novels after the exorbitant denunciations of Jude the Obscure.”
True, my dear Thomas, but a man is a coward if he, in fear of being shot at, turns his back on his passion, his talent and his art…
And therein lay the unanswerable question:
To be a fool or to be a coward?
Not the best of choices, but who ever said that life gives you good choices?