Book Review: The Library At Night by Alberto Manguel | #SmartReads

LibraryAtNight
TheBreakaway | BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
May 8, 2017

“A house that has a library has a soul.”
– Plato

Just like A History Of Reading is an unabashed book about all things reading, The Library At Night is an unabashed book about the veritable signature sanctum for all readers throughout history: The Library.

Looking at libraries from fifteen different perspectives, Manguel shows us the The Library as myth, order, space, power, shadow, shape, chance, workshop, mind, island, survival, oblivion, imagination, identity and home.

In each of these respective chapters, the author keenly compares each topic to the library, and in a very refreshing, vivid, and thoughtful way shows us how the library fulfills each of those themes.

Since time immemorial, entering a library has always been seen as entering a different domain.  It matters not whether one is merely a researcher, a reader, a student, or someone else.  Everyone knows that the library is a place of adventure, place of learning, a place of rumination.  The fact that one can hear pin drops in libraries [and most book stores for that matter] shows the respect everyone has for such an ancient intellectual sanctum.  Throughout the book, the same level of respect is shown by Manguel as he takes us on a journey on all things libraries.

For avid learners, libraries have always been a private realm, a place of mental solitude and discernmentAny individual, at any time, in any place can keenly escape into the mental freedoms such a place affords.

In a sense, libraries are a page of human history – a well known locale in which one can hearken back in time, and even forward, to witness the totality of the human experience.  Or at least what’s left of its memories.

Be that as it may, Libraries haven’t always been respected.  Within this book, Manguel details a few of the most heinous human acts: the destruction of libraries.

Given that books impart great power, books have always been seen as dangerous by those in power.  Libraries are symbols of what human nature can accomplish when totally free to explore and create, which is why time and time again there are those who have sought to destroy them, to keep people dumbed down and ignorant of the roots of civilization – the veritable pages of history.

As Manguel sobberingly notes:

“The libraries that have vanished or have never been allowed to exist greatly surpass in number those we can visit…”[1]

Of those that remain:

“Throughout history, the victor’s library stands as the emblem of power, repository of the official version [of history], but the version that haunts us is the other, the version of the library of ashes.  The victim’s library, abandoned or destroyed, keeps on asking, “How were such acts possible?”[2]

What has humanity forgotten?  What has gone by the wayside to the sands of time?  It’s worth ruminating upon, especially since the cycles of history teach us that sooner or later, the war against books and libraries takes center stage.

And given that censorship of articles, books and blogs is beginning to run rampant as governments and institutions try to censor “fake news”, the modern version of book burning will merely be the censorship of the written word through the landscape of the Internet, and many are feeling the flames of this fierce fire, myself included.  Again, what are they trying to prevent?  What are they trying to hide?  Each and every one of us should ponder these questions deeply.

Mostly though, Libraries conjure positive thoughts, and most of the book covers the positive aspects that libraries infuse into individuals.

Manguel elucidates on this:

“The existence of any library, even mine, allows readers a sense of what their craft is truly about, a craft that struggles against the stringencies of time by bringing fragments of the past into the present.  It grants them a glimpse, however secret or distant, into the minds of other human beings, and allows them a certain knowledge of their own condition through the stories stored here for their perusal.  Above all, it tells the reader that their craft consists of the power to remember, actively, through the prompt of the page, selected moments of the human experience.”[3]

Those reasons are exactly why libraries will confer power, because they allow individuals to become self sufficient in more ways than they can imagine, fine tuning their mental faculties in ways no other place does.

Libraries help us see the past, but even better, help us imagine a greater future.

In a time where countless issues abound, imagining a better future is certainly a prospect worthy of proper ponderance.

Whether you are a student, a researcher, a reporter, or merely a reader, the library will always provide a sanctum, a personal space, like a warm fire at night, to be used at any moment.  In similar fashion, this book provides readers with comfort and all the amenities that libraries provide, but in book fashion.  If that notion appeals to you, then you will undoubtedly enjoy this book.

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Footnotes:

[1] Alberto Manguel, The Library At Night, pg. 124.
[2] Ibid., pg. 247.
[3] Ibid., pg. 30.

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This article is free and open source. You are encouraged to share this content and have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.
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About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, researcher, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, humanitarian, and freelance writer who studies and mirrors regularly subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

His other blog, BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com features mainly his personal work, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information nigh always ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.

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BreakawayConsciousness

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, and freelance writer who regularly studies subjects such as: Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more. His own personal blog is BreakawayConsciousnessBlog.wordpress.com where his personal work is shared, while TheBreakaway.wordpress.com serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information usually ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world. My work can also be found on https://steemit.com/@zyphrex.

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