Sunday, March 07, 2010

The Silent Library


There are some dark and intimate passages in The Glass Bead Game. Unsurprisingly, one of the most intense (bordering on homosocial desire) takes place within a library. The silence of that place carries the weight of attraction. Silence is a characteristic of mind: memory envisaged as a library. In his evocative work, The Library at Night, Manguel captures the magic of silence:

Like Machiavelli, I often sit among my books at night. While I prefer to write in the morning, at night I enjoy reading in thick silence, when triangles of light from the reading lamps split my library shelves in two. Above, the high rows of books vanish into darkness; below sits the privileged section of the illuminated titles. (p.193).

The library is a silent place where books are stars, and the reader is an astrologer seeking patterns in darkness. Manguel remembers a protective silence.