Book of questions

I’m sure someone’s pointed this out before, but if you want more comments on your blog, one way of attracting them is to ask questions.  (A way of augmenting this is suggested by a review of Dean Dad’s indispensable blog, Confessions of a Community College Dean: when asking your question, flatter your audience: “Wise and worldly readers, what do you think?”)  I have occasionally asked questions on this blog, but not often, and usually to resounding silence.  So I’ve decided to shape a week of posts around questions, and see whether I can entice a few of you out of the woodwork to respond.

Months ago (November!), I started drafting a post about a then-current Chronicle “First Person” column, “In the Spirit of Collaboration.”  The author, “Martin Sanders,” writes about the pleasure of co-discovering a “literary guest book” among the papers of “a half-forgotten British author who was once a prominent literary figure”:

The book, lovingly dedicated by one of literature’s Greats, held a treasure trove of fun: On facing sheets were such pedantic questions regarding literary taste as “Who do you think is the greatest poet now living?,” “Who is the best critic alive?,” or “Who is the most deplorable writer ever to have been published?”

All in all there were some 50 questions, and neatly penned in the blanks were answers our author had recorded from the likes of H.G. Wells, Violet Hunt, and many others. Can you imagine the fun we had going from one entry to another, as those artists and intellectuals gave their variously sincere and cheeky answers dating from 1917 through 1926?

In the essay, the collaborators start laughing, disturbing the fusty silence of the archive.  But truly: would this not be a wonderful thing to find?  And wouldn’t it also be a wonderful thing to start?  You’d almost have to assure people that the book would be lost in an archive for a few decades–and never, never posted on the Internet. 

The three questions in the quotation (conveniently boldfaced above) are still usable today–but we’d need more, of course.  Witty, literary, good-looking readers–what else would you ask?


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by FLS on July 7, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    “What’s that behind you?”

    If answered seriously, it would give insight into the surroundings and perspective of the responder.

    Or it could be taken merely in jest.

    Or it could launch a complicated cross-time suspense thriller worthy of being penned by Stephen Moffat (writer of “Blink,” the great cross-time suspense-thriller episode of Doctor Who).


  2. Posted by meansomething on July 8, 2008 at 2:11 am

    Woo! I like that. I should’ve known you’d come up with the unexpected!


  3. What book have you re-read the most/

    What is the first poem, story, or fiction book you remember reading?


  4. Posted by meansomething on July 8, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    I like both of these, Dr. V. Especially the one about rereading. I’d have some trouble figuring out the second one. Do you know yours?


  5. With which literary character(s) have you ever imagined a fantasy romance?

    (Yeah, guess how I spent my adolescence?)


  6. Posted by meansomething on July 9, 2008 at 12:08 am

    OMG! WN?, this has to be a blog post of its own. Look for it later in the week!
    (I need time to think. Louisa May Alcott’s books alone…!)


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