Friday, January 14, 2022


Some Fictional Libraries

John Buchan (1875-1940), Sir Quixote of the Moors, chapter V:
The library I found no bad one — I who in my day have been considered to have something of a taste in books. To be sure there was much wearisome stuff, the work of old divines, and huge commentaries on the Scriptures, written in Latin and plentifully interspersed with Greek and Hebrew. But there was good store of the Classics, both prose and poetry, — Horace, who has ever been my favorite, and Homer, who, to my thinking, is the finest of the ancients. Here, too, I found a Plato, and I swear I read more of him in the manse than I have done since I went through him with M. Clerselier, when we were students together in Paris.
Buchan, The Three Hostages, chapter V:
He opened a door and ushered me into an enormous room, which must have occupied the whole space on that floor. It was oblong, with deep bays at each end, and it was lined from floor to ceiling with books. Books, too, were piled on the tables, and sprawled on a big flat couch which was drawn up before the fire. It wasn't an ordinary gentleman's library, provided by the bookseller at so much a yard. It was the working collection of a scholar, and the books had that used look which makes them the finest tapestry for a room. The place was lit with lights on small tables, and on a big desk under a reading lamp were masses of papers and various volumes with paper slips in them. It was workshop as well as library.
Buchan, The Island of Sheep, chapter VII:
In the library after dinner I got my notion of Lombard further straightened out, for the room was a museum of the whole run of his interests. Sandy, who could never refrain from looking round any collection of books, bore me out. The walls on three sides were lined to the ceiling with books, which looked in the dim light like rich tapestry hangings. Lombard had kept his old school and college texts, and there was a big section on travel, and an immense amount of biography. He had also the latest works on finance, so he kept himself abreast of his profession. But the chief impression left on me was that it was the library of a man who did not want the memory of any part of his life to slip from him — a good augury for our present job.
Id., chapter XII:
That library was the pleasantest room in the house, and it was clearly Haraldsen’s favourite, for it had the air of a place cherished and lived in. Its builder had chosen to give it a fine plaster ceiling, with heraldic panels between mouldings of Norland symbols. It was lined everywhere with books, books which had the look of being used, and which consequently made that soft tapestry which no collection of august bindings can ever provide.

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