Guantánamo prison library for detainees. [tumblr] New York Times reporter Charlie Savage set up a Tumblr dedicated to cataloging some of the books available in the Guantánamo prison library for detainees.
In theory: the unread and the unreadable - "We measure our lives with unread books – and 'difficult' works can induce the most guilt. How should we view this challenge?"
"Some remarkable Books, Antiquities, Pictures and Rarities of several kinds, scarce or never seen by any man now living."
Musæum Clausum is a catalog of invented books, pictures and antiquities written by 17th Century Englishman Sir Thomas Browne. It is a fantastical and witty meditation on the ravages of time on literature and other works of man. The Musæum Clausum is perhaps the finest example of the invented, or invisible, library, a genre which seems to have originated with Rabelais. The genre has been of special interest to Beachcombing's Bizarre History Blog (older posts), where he has written about the invisible libraries of writers such as Charles Dickens, Neil Gaiman, H. P. Lovecraft and invisible libraries in video games. The natural medium for invisible libraries might be pictures, and Musæum Clausum inspired a suite of etchings by Erik Desmazieres.
The universe (which others call The Twitter) is composed of every word in the English language; Shakespeare's folios, line-by-line-by-line; the Exegesis of Philip K. Dick, exploded; Constantine XI, in 140 character chunks; Sun Tzu's Art of War, in its entirety; the chapter headings of JG Ballard, in abundance; and definitive discographies of Every. Artist. Ever... All this, I repeat, is true, but one hundred forty characters of inalterable wwwtext cannot correspond to any language, no matter how dialectical or rudimentary it may be. [more inside]
On the day he turned thirty-eight, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne retired from public life to the tower of the Château de Montaigne, there to spend the next ten years composing an assay of his life's experience. That his mind might thrive, he turned the tower into a "Solitarium" and its top floor into a sumptuous library, lining its round walls with some 1,500 books. Even the roof beams were made to bear his thoughts: on them he inscribed 46 quotations, here collected and translated.
Upheaval at the New York Public Library: an article in The Nation which looks at the current state of the NYPL, and highlights many of the problems facing public libraries across the United States.
The library of King Matthias I of Hungary, the Bibliotheca Corviniana, was "the second greatest collection of books in Europe in the Renaissance period, after that of the Vatican." Destroyed following the 15th century Turkish invasion of Hungary (despite the efforts of Matthias' vassal Vlad III the Impaler), a few surviving codices have been digitized by the National Széchényi Library and the Library of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. [more inside]
William Gass's personal library. The photos accompany this article by Gass about his love of books -- specifically about collecting them over his life and "living in a library." [more inside]
It's almost as good as being at John Ashbery's home (bio) and there's more, including a preliminary inventory of his library* (search for "inventories" or scroll down). Ashbery's poetry is still very much invested in the reader's pleasure—more so than many supposedly "approachable" poets. You can hear him read his poems (more), watch him (here's -transcript- a brief taste and a half-hour video) or read a few of his poems. [more inside]
What is the world reading? The UNESCO Index Translationum database has over 1.6 million bibliographical entries of translated works. Interesting stats such as: The worlds Top 50 translated authors. The Top 10 translated Norwegian authors (or other languages). Number of translations for any given book. Some surprising results, lots to explore, and an interesting lesson on what sells.
Rare Books. Links to virtual exhibitions, 1991-present.
"The same thing we do every night, Pinky. Try to take over the world!" Who says 'Murricans are insular and self-absorbed?! Okay, everybody, but everybody's wrong. Proof positive? The absolutely last and final word that'll make everybody believe we really do care about their mangy foreign butts? The fact that the Library of Congress has a wonderful site called A World of Books: Annotated Surveys of Noteworthy Books from Around the Globe, devoted to "some of the most important and interesting books published abroad that an American public may have overlooked. The results provide a fascinating insight about other peoples and cultures." It's good times.