Tag Archives: Literature

Quot. Nicholls: Library or Pub?

Her skin had a pallid puffiness that spoke of too much time in libraries or drinking pints in pubs, and her spectacles made her seem owlish and prim.

Nicholls, David. One Day. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2010. 978-0-340-89698-3.


Quot. Sansom: The Guildhall’s Librarian

Fictional description of the Guildhall Library in London in 1540 and its librarian. I’m sure the librarians there are much more reader-friendly and service-orientated these days 🙂 .

But I’m afraid there are still some libraries left even today, where a  librarian not unlike the one described by Sansom watches over the collection, scowling at every reader who innocently wishes to consult one of its books …

The librarian was one of those fellows who believes books should be kept on shelves, not read, but with the aid of Vervey’s note I was able to get past him. He watched sourly as I put the volumes in my satchel.

Sanson, C. J. Dark Fire. London: Pan, 2007. 978-0-330-45078-2.

See here for information about today’s Guildhall Library and its services.

Quot.: Famous librarians – Robert Burns

Among the famous persons who also worked, at some time in their career, as librarians, we also find famous Scottish poet and lyricist Robert Burns (1759-1796):

In Dunscore, Dumfries a squire had set up a parish library for his tenants and neighboring farmers, with Robert Burns serving as librarian.

Rose, Jonathan. The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes. New Haven and London: Yale Nota Bene, 2001. 0-300-09808-1.

Man Booker Prize 2009

It’s Booker Prize time again. The short list has already been published some time ago, at the beginning of September. I’m not really much into contemporary fiction but last year, I decided to read one of the short listed books. I settled on Linda Grant’s “The Clothes on Their Backs”, because it sounded interesting and also, yes I admit it, I liked the cover. And I liked the book as well, as it turned out. It didn’t win though, the prize went to Aravind Adiga’s “The White Tiger”. So this year, I decided to continue the “tradition” and read another short listed book. The choice was easy this time, as the author of my of my favourite books is listed as well – A. S. Byatt’s “The Children’s Book”.

In the early 1990s, I came across her then latest novel “Possession”. I read it in German back then and it fascinated me, even though I found it quite difficult and not easy to read, and it has never entirely left my mind. Many years later, I came across it again. Last year, to be precice. I visited the London Library on a guided tour and there were told about the description of the library in Byatt’s novel. So I went to the next book shop, bought a copy of the novel and started reading it again. I was even more fascinated than the first time and, after having studied English literature, amongst others, and become even more interested in the Victorian era, in the mean time, finding it much easier and much more rewarding. The novel has actually won the Booker Prize in 1990. If Byatt was to win it again this year, she would be the first woman to win the prize twice.

At the BBC website, extracts from the books and interviews with the authors can be listened to. There’s also some information about the books and authors. Although not entirely accurate, as “Possession” is not really set in the Victorian era but in the late 1980s, where a bunch of academics are trying to solve the mystery of a personal correspondence of a famous Victorian poet.

The winner of the Booker Prize will be announced next week, 6 October. In the mean time, I’m enjoying reading Byatt’s book – which actually is set in the late Victorian era. And it also features a well known London institution, the then newly built Victoria & Albert Museum in Kensington.

Quoting: Tallis on the question of the murderer

‘There were also traces of cloth, tiny crystals of  a substance that I suspect is glue, and minute particles of leather. Some of the latter were very old indeed.’
    ‘I see,’ said Rheinhardt. ‘Most, erm, puzzling.’
that puzzling, Inspector!’
    ‘I don’t understand,’ Rheinhardt said. ‘Are you saying, Miss Lydgate, that these particular substances are significant?’
    ‘If the scarf belonged to the murderer – then yes.’
    ‘In what way?’ said Rheinhardt, feigning nonchalance.
    ‘They reveal his profession.’
    ‘They do?’
    ‘Yes. He is the proprietor of an antiquarian bookshop – or he is a librarian.’

So is it a  librarian who’s committing all those atrocious murders, which seem to be connected, somehow, to Mozart’s opera ‘The Magic Flute’? There certainly is a librarian in the book, and he’s even given a whole  chapter to himself, chapter 52, which, although only 2 pages, is nevertheless too long to quote here. He doesn’t seem to be a too sympathetique character, though. Or are we just beeing deceived here? Well, I suppose we’ll just have to finish the book to discover the truth… 

But in order to find out more about how the murders are connected with the opera, and Freemasonry, what does one best do? Exactly, go to the library…

If we are to discover more about the symbolism of The Magic Flute, then I suspect this will be best achieved by long hours spent poring over books in a library.

Tallis, Frank. Vienna Blood. London, Arrow Books, 2007. (The Lieberman Papers, Vol. 2). 978-0-099-47132-5.

Lesesommer in Davos

Diesen Sommer findet in Davos und Klosters eine  besondere Lesebank2Leseförderungskampagne statt. An verschiedenen Wander- und Spazierwegen in und um Davos und Lesebank8Klosters wurden einige Bänke zu “Lesebänken” umfunktioniert.

Die Lesebänke sind mit einer wetterfesten Kiste ausgestattet, in der sich eine Auswahl an Bibliotheksbüchern befindet. Hier lässt sich gemütlich in Romanen, Sachbüchern, Kinderbüchern und natürlich auch dem einen oder anderen (Wander-)Buch über die Region Lesebank Buchboxblättern und lesen.

Die Lesebänke sollen dazu einladen, eine Pause einzulegen, um in den angebotenen Büchern zu schmökern, lesen, versinken, bevor man sie zurück in die Kiste versorgt und seine Wanderung, seinen Spaziergang fortsetzt. Sollte man sich aber an einem Lesebank9bestimmten Buch festgelesen haben, ist es ausdrücklich erlaubt, das Buch mit nach Hause/in die Ferienwohung/in’s Hotelzimmer zu nehmen, um es in Ruhe fertig zu lesen. Das Buch kann nachher wieder in der gleichen oder in einer der anderen Bücherkisten deponiert werden. Insgesamt gibt es sechs solcher Lesebänke, drei in Davos und drei in Klosters.

Durchgeführt wird die Aktion von den Gemeinden Davos und Klosters in Kooperation mit den GemeindebibliothekIhre Lesebank Bibliotheken Davos und Bibliothek Klosters-Serneus.

Mehr zur Aktion findet sich in der  Medienmitteilung und im Davos Blog.


Eine tolle Idee, findet LoL!

Quoting: Woolf re. the moderns

The Hilberys subscribed to a library, whcih delivered books on Tuesdays and Fridays, and Katharine did her best to interest her parents in the works of living and highly respectable authors; but Mrs. Hilbery was perturbed by the very look of the light, gold-wreathed volumes, and would make little faces as if she tasted something bitter as the reading went on; while Mr. Hilbery would treat the moderns with a curious elaborate banter such as one might apply to the antics of a promising child. So this evening, after five pages or so of one these masters, Mrs. Hilbery protested that it was all too clever and cheap and nasty for words.
    “Please, Katharine, read us something
    Katharine had to go to the bookcase and choose a portly volume in sleek, yellow calf, which had directly a sedative effect upon both her parents.

Woolf, Virginia. Night and Day. London: Vintage, 1992. First published 1919.