Commonplace books that survive from the Tudor period contain a huge variety of texts, including letters, poems, medical remedies, prose, jokes, ciphers, riddles, quotations and drawings. Sonnets, ballads and epigrams jostle with diary entries, recipes, lists of ships or Cambridge colleges and transcriptions of speeches. Collecting useful snippets of information so that they could be easily retrieved when needed, or re-read to spark new ideas and connections, was one of the functions of a commonplace book. But the practice of maintaining a commonplace book and exchanging texts with others also served as a form of self-definition: which poems or aphorisms you chose to copy into your book or to pass on to your correspondents said a lot about you, and the book as a whole was a reflection of your character and personality.
RB: In The Polish Officer, you introduce the word "debroullier"...- from an interview with Alan Furst.
AF: Yes, system D. Getting it done. It means to improvise. Life is so impossible, so confusing, everybody does everything wrong all the time. Somehow we are going to manage. The source was from the First World War with regard to railroad transport of troops and goods. To 'debroullier,' to muddle through. But it became known almost immediately as system D. And everybody in Paris says system D, "How am I gonna get this done, how are we going to find it, how are we going to buy it. Oh, don't worry about it, system D."
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