Manguel on… the Destruction of Books

For a while I’ve been reading Alberto Manguel’s wonderful The Library at Night, given to me by my brother last year.  It’s the perfect book to have next to my laptop while I’m writing my thesis – when I need a quite break, rather than browsing Facebook I read a few delightful pages of Manguel.  And, like I did with Stop What You’re Doing And Read This, I’m going to be posting quite a few funny, recognisable, thought-provoking, or simply good, excerpts from The Library At Night, along with some paintings I like, preferably of readers (following Harriet‘s great ongoing series – I may accidentally use pictures which have already featured over there!)  First off is ‘Reading Room at Buxton Library’ by Robert McLellan-Sim, from the 1930s..

“As repositories of history or sources for the future, as guides or manuals for difficult times, as symbols of authority past or present, the books in a library stand for more than their collective contents, and have, since the beginning of writing, been considered a threat.  It hardly matters why a library is destroyed: every banning, curtailment, shredding, plunder or loot gives rise (at least as a ghostly presence) to a louder, clearer, more durable library of the banned, looted, plundered, shredded or curtailed.  Those books may no longer be available for consultation, that may exist only in the vague memory of a reader or in the vaguer-still memory of tradition and legend, but they have acquired a kind of immortality.”

— Alberto Manguel, ‘The Library at Night’ (p.123)

4 thoughts on “Manguel on… the Destruction of Books

  • July 19, 2012 at 6:33 am

    You are more than welcome to any pictures you have found or will find on my blog! I love this one and perhaps it will one day pop up on mine. Look forward to the extracts.

    • July 19, 2012 at 8:30 am

      Thanks Harriet! Ditto, of course. I spent a long time scrolling through Google Image searches for 'painting reader' last night (!)

  • August 8, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    the painting is from the 30s, my fathers uncle is the painter


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