Sunday, April 05, 2015


Nothing But Books

Juan Luis Vives (1492-1540), De Tradendis Disciplinis 1.6 (tr. Foster Watson):
But if everything written by those old philosophers, historians, orators, poets, physicians, theologians, had reached this age, then we could put nothing but books in our houses; we should have to sit on books; we should have to walk on the top of books; our eyes would have to glance over nothing but books. Even now there is a terror fallen upon not a few people, and a hatred of study, when they find offered them in any subject of study the volumes which will need indefatigable industry to master. They instantly depress the minds of those who look at them, and the wretches moan, inwardly, and ask: Who can read all these?

Quod si illa omnia, quae a priscis illis philosophis, historicis, oratoribus, poetis, medicis, theologis, sunt edita, pervenissent ad hanc aetatem, nihil esset nobis aliud habendum domi quam libri, in libris fuisset sedendum, libri fuissent calcandi, incurrere in aliud non possent oculi, quam in libros; etiam ut nunc quidem est, non paucis terror incutitur, et odium studii, quum offeruntur eis in quaque disciplina inexhausti laboris volumina; despondent actutum animos, qui ea intuentur, et miseri intra se queruntur, Quis leget haec?
A friend just sent me an email with the following photograph of a canal in Bruges with a bust of Vives on the right side (click to enlarge):

On the subject of books, my friend adds:
Plenty of second-hand book shops in these parts but I'm on a tight leash, like a mutt that can hardly lift his leg at a lamppost without feeling a tug at the collar.
He's probably on a tight leash because he lives in an apartment in which, as his wife might say, "we have to sit on books; we have to walk on the top of books; our eyes have to glance over nothing but books."

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