I love a good epigraph.
Some readers page right past them, ignore them completely, think they’re a waste of space. Not me. While reading a book, a book I love, I’ll often flip back to the epigraph and think about how perfect — or imperfect — it is for the story. I’ll wonder how it was chosen. Years before? So late it barely made it to print? Was it the writer’s idea? The editor’s?
I have many favorites. Here are two:
But what a shining animal is man,
Who knows, when pain subsides, that is not that,
For worse than that must follow — yet can write
Music, can laugh, play tennis, even plan.
– Edna St. Vincent Millay “Sonnet CLXXI”
– Andre Malraux, “Lazare” 1974
When I started writing this post, I intended to share a few I’m considering for my own book. Now that feels like tempting the fates — the book’s not finished and who knows how this will all end — so I’m tucking them back inside my vest and zipping up.
Do you bother with the epigraphs? Give me one of your favorites.