Library Laughs

Oxford students definitely have a reputation for being pretentious. While that’s a generalization and there are certainly many humble and amiable people here, my experience in the library today has shown me one side of Oxford which very much lives up to its reputation. When criticism is bad, Oxford students are merciless.

Check out the annotations on the title page to this commentary on Robert Browning.


“Not particularly trustworthy: Look at Porphyria’s lover, esp p. 81-82 before deciding to get this book out!” “Indeed it is very poor, for Porphyria is in fact a whore.” “It’s a book of shite. I agree.” “Truly-don’t bother-this critic is completely myopic-only thing worth reading are the margin notes!”” But those are quite funny, if you’ve got 5 minutes” “This is absolutely awful. Plough on with trepidation.”

 Look how many annotations are in the book! This continues throughtout the entire text; each note was more critical than the next!


Highlights from the conversational annotations:

On the American spelling of the novel: “It’s American” “Stop writing silly things.” “But they’re what make this book interesting” “Yes, the spelling of Clarke is fascinating.” “You have a low comedy threshold” “Will you just let me read the damn book?!” “Why would you want to bother?”

On the notion that truth is dependent on perspective: “But truth is not relative.” “Yes it is, It is more relvant to wonder whether Browning thought truth to be relative. In the book, he thought knowledge relative, but that is not truth, is it?” “Stop showing off”

In reference to the text, the author, and the location of publication: “It’s garbage like this that gives English litererary criticism a bad name” “This guy just hasn’t got a clue sometimes, has he?” “This guy is full of repetitive bullshit granted, but you can see why he wants to share his literary pretensions; it’s probably the only culture they have in New Mexico”


The back and forth was much more humorous in the text when I could see the progression of notes via different individuals. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get any better pictures because I didn’t have a camera and technically,I’m not allowed to take pictures of the books. Regardless, I got a good laugh in reading the witty asides of some students before me. It almost made my day in the library studying about “Fra Lippo Lippi” and “Andrea Del Sarto” in Browning’s Men and Women enjoyable. Almost.



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