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Showing posts from March 3, 2011

Fernando Báez' "A Universal History of the Destruction of Books": Review

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Source: Blogtrotter


This Venezuelan librarian answers what a history student, at Baghdad's university in 2003, wonders after the library's been looted of every volume: why does man destroy so many books? The book begins and ends in Iraq, where the earliest texts we have survive, only because of the flames that consumed and preserved their clay tablets. Twelve years of research results in the first "single history of their destruction" (7). Intriguingly, the author has "concluded that the more cultured a nation or a person is, the more willing each is to eliminate books under the pressure of apocalyptic myths" (18) Bibliophiles often can be biblioclasts. We all, he insists, in dividing up "us" vs. "them" negate each other, and play into censorship, exclusion, and eradication as we cannot tolerate criticism or opposition.

Translated in pithy style by Alfred MacAdam, it's a fluid and direct overview. Uruk, where the first surviving boo…