Commonplace Books, Tour Journals & Miscellaneous Prose

Robert Burns: Commonplace Books, Tour Journals, and Miscellaneous Prose
Edited by Nigel Leask.

Coat of Arms from the Glenriddell Manuscript

The first volume of the new Oxford edition represents a milestone in Burns scholarship, the contents of which have never before been presented to the public in edited form. That’s to say, although most of the items have been published before, they’ve never been gathered together in one volume with an introductory essay, headnote, and full annotations, connecting each to the poet’s life, poetry, and correspondence. The three commonplace books (the ‘Ayrshire’ Commonplace Book 1793-5, the ‘Edinburgh Journal’ 1787-90, and the ‘Glenriddell Manuscripts’ 1792-4) are transcribed (wherever possible) from original manuscripts, and offer a fascinating insight into the poet’s creative process, as well as containing unique drafts of many of his most important poems and song. The Tour Journals narrate Burns’s travels in the Borders and Highland at the height of his fame in 1787, conveying his reflections on Scottish culture and society at a time of intense historical change. The volume also collects Burns’s miscellaneous prose writings, ranging from the prefaces to the Kilmarnock and Edinburgh Poems, through the poet’s blueprint for a working-class library in Dumfriesshire, to his correspondence in the newspapers touching on matters of contemporary political and social import. The volume fills a major gap in our knowledge of the poet and his world, and establishes high scholarly standards for the edition as a whole.
— Nigel Leask

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