orig. A book in which ‘commonplaces’ or passages important for reference were collected, usually under general heads; hence, a book in which one records passages or matters to be especially remembered or referred to, with or without arrangement. 1578 COOPER Thesaurus A studious yong man ... may gather to himselfe good furniture both of words and approved phrases ... and to make to his use as it were a common place booke. 1642 FULLER Holy & Prof. St. A Common-place-book contains many notions in garrison, whence the owner may draw out an army into the field.
The pilgrimage festival of Shavuot, the original basis of the Christian holiday known as Pentecost, begins this evening. A Commonplace Blog will be at rest for the next two days, celebrating the zeman matan torateynu.
A critic and literary historian for nearly a quarter of a century at Texas A&M and Ohio State universities, I am the author of The Elephants Teach and ex-fiction critic for Commentary. I have also written for Jewish Ideas Daily, the New York Times Book Review, the Weekly Standard, Philosophy and Literature, the Sewanee Review, First Things, the Daily Beast, the Barnes & Noble Review, the Journal of the History of Ideas, American Literary History, and other journals. Here is the Commonplace Blog’s statement of principles, such as they are.