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Books on Fire: The Destruction of Libraries throughout by Lucien X. Polastron

By Lucien X. Polastron

A old survey of the destruction of data from historical Babylon and China to trendy instances

• comprises the 3 separate destructions of the Library of Alexandria in addition to many both major collections all over the world

• Examines the explanations of violence directed at repositories of information

• appears on the hazards posed by means of digitalization of books to the loose availability of information within the future

Hebrew, Hindu, Nordic, and Islamic traditions percentage the idea of an unlimited library latest sooner than the production of the area. The Vedas say that this library predated the creator’s construction of himself. but, nearly as outdated because the inspiration of the library is the urge to damage it. the explanations brought up for this are many: trained everyone is a lot more durable to control, and a few proclaim that merely the illiterate can keep the realm. There also are nice destructions led to through climate, worms, or even the paranoia of the library’s proprietor.

Books on Fire strains the background of this perpetual destruction from the burning of the good library of Alexandria (on 3 separate events) and the libraries of the chinese language Qing Dynasty to extra smooth catastrophic losses equivalent to these witnessed in Nazi-occupied Europe and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. the writer examines the explanations for those failures, the treasures which were misplaced, and the place the surviving books, if any, have ended up. His research additionally finds a brand new chance dealing with libraries at the present time with the digitalization of books threatening either the lifestyles of the actual paper e-book and the very concept of analyzing at no cost. The promise of an absolute library provided through the pc may prove to equivalent the worst nightmares of Ray Bradbury, Aldous Huxley, and George Orwell.

Books on Fire bought the 2004 Société des Gens de Lettres Prize for Nonfiction/History in Paris.

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Additional info for Books on Fire: The Destruction of Libraries throughout History

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He was reserving them for the use of his sons, which, he said with his customary flair for language, would do them more good than gold. The first Roman libraries were built upon the backs of plundered foes and older cultures. It was thus with Sulla as with Lucullus, who dispossessed Mithradates, king of Pontus, and was famous at the time less for his munificent pleasures than for his wealth of reading material and welcoming shelves. Plutarch said that "his arcades, galleries, and reading rooms were open to all visitors," and that vacationing geniuses from Greece loved to frequent this spot and give dissertations in which the master of the house sometimes liked to participate.

He was assassinated in 656 and four years of civil wars followed. During this time, Marwan, governor of Medina, had gone to see Hafsa to obtain her copy, which she refused to give him. He told her, "I will wait for you to die," which is exactly what happened. Marwan then demanded the precious manuscript from Hafsa's brother, who had no choice but to comply. " It is clear that this engendered doubt and polemic, even to the extent that some contest the assumption that any written text existed before the copies of Medina.

It nevertheless happened that the majestic remnants of the empire now served as nothing more than a quarry for masons. "The temples which had escaped the zeal of the Christians were no longer inhabited, either by gods or men; the diminished crowds of Romans were lost in the immense space of their baths and porticoes; and the stately libraries and halls of justice became useless to an indolent generation whose repose was seldom disturbed either by study or business. " 21 This discoverer of imperiled masterpieces was assassinated four years after his coronation, in 461.

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