From the Bookshelf: Epigraphs

Sunday, September 7, 2014

I was recently perusing Sanne's post on epigraphs over on her blog, Books and Quills (you can also find her on YouTube. Go. Watch. Read. She is lovely.) I love quotes, and quotes in books are almost an overload of perfection, so this subject was right up my alley. After reading her post I was inspired to look through my own bookshelf for interesting or unusual epigraphs. Here's what I found:

Io e te, Niccolo Ammaniti

Francis Scott Fitzgerald
Aimee Mann

Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Thomas Hardy

William Shakespeare

Brave New World, Aldous Huxley

Nicolas Berdiaeff

Out of the Easy, Ruta Sepetys

Sir Francis Bacon

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling

William Penn

I was happy to find that some of my favorite books had epigraphs. Some I had remembered clearly, others I originally overlooked. Most interesting to me were the "classic" novels which contained epigraphs. There's something about looking at a great author's work and seeing the inspiration they themselves took from previous great writers that warms the soul. It's just a little reminder that every writer is indebted to those who came before her. Although I was surprised by some choices (Brave New World with no Tempest epigraph?) and confused by others (American rock lyrics for an Italian text?), each of these epigraphs add something to the reading experience of the novel in question which would be lost without the quote. Epigraphs are simultaneously acknowledgements of inspiration and entries into the texts they precede.

If anyone else is taking the time to look at epigraphs, I would love to see what you come up with!

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