Have I mentioned lately that I am reading War and Peace at the moment? I may have done once or twice mainly because I am pretty pleased with myself for giving this a go! I am not surprised that I am enjoying it, because I know that I liked Anna Karenina, but it still took a while to get to the point of wanting to read the next Tolstoy novel.
One of the things that I have been thinking about whilst reading it is the use of notes related to the text. Just recently I was also reading Mort by Terry Pratchett, who is a contemporary author who loves to use footnotes in his Discworld novels, as does another favourite novelist of mine, Jasper Fforde. Now to put Tolstoy, Pratchett and Fforde in the same post may seem like a bit of a stretch, but I am going to do it anyway.
In classics the use of notes, whether they be footnotes, or notes that are at the back of the book (what are they called when they are at the back of the book anyway?), is very prevalent. A lot of the time they are there to explain contextual points that the original audience would have already been familiar with and would have understood but that for the modern reader have been lost in the sands of time.
Today's post really is a question about how people read footnotes/annotations. I tend to put the bookmark at the page where the relevant notes for this section are so that I can easily flick back and forward and I read the note as soon as I see it mentioned the number annotating that there is a note in the text. Is this what other readers do as well, or do you read to the end of the paragraph and then go back and read the notes?
Do you prefer your notes to be at the back of the book or to be at the bottom of the page? For the translation I am reading of War and Peace there wasn't really an option to put the notes at the bottom of the page, because there is quite a lot of the text that was originally written in French, and a little bit of German, and it has been left as French and German in the translation, and therefore at the bottom of the page there is the English translation.
So how do Pratchett and Fforde fit into this discussion? Both of the authors like to have what I think of as almost asides in the footnotes. Some times in Pratchett's case they could be notes that go off on a tangent or just a funny comment.
I have often wondered how audiobooks deal with the footnotes. Is it different for the contemporary novelist than it is for the classics?
So, on this cool wintery Sunday (for me at least), let's talk footnotes.