Monday, April 07, 2008

Dirda on Manguel

This is special. A treat.

The Washington Post’s Michael Dirda reviews Alberto Manguel’s The Library at Night. The book has been out in Canada for the last couple of years, and is published there by Knopf. It was published in the US last month by Yale University Press.

Both Dirda’s review and the book itself are lovely:
The Library at Night -- a series of essays on what one might call the Platonic Idea of a library -- reveals some of its author’s intellectual range and magpie learning. Manguel can cite ancient scholars from Alexandria, tell anecdotes about half-mad bibliomanes such as Aby Warburg (founder of the Warburg Library, devoted to “the afterlife of the ancient world”) or Peter Kien (the doomed hero of Elias Canetti’s Auto-da-Fé), describe the bookshelves in the blind Borges’s apartment, analyze the architecture of Florence’s Laurentian Library (designed by Michelangelo), outline the various methods for organizing and cataloging books, and discuss the sad history of censorship or the tattered and secret volumes shared by the prisoners in Nazi concentration camps. The man has clearly, as Samuel Johnson might say, turned over half a library to make his new book.

The full review is worth reading and it’s here.



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