Taken together, these two recent books provide a succinct – but very satisfying – description of two of the most famous libraries in the world. In both, the text is accompanied by many appropriate illustrations, virtually all of them in color. In what follows, I emphasize the earliest and most formative years of each institution.
The 2,700-plus books at the Mount, Edith Wharton’s historic Berkshire estate, represent only a portion of the novelist’s remarkable collection. Another 2,500 volumes, which one of Wharton’s heirs stored in a London warehouse after her death, were destroyed in the Blitz. And the volumes now in the Mount’s collection themselves survived storage in an English castle (some have the wormholes to show for it) and in a bookseller’s attic before a high-profile (and contentious) negotiation brought them to the Mount in 2006.
If you are tired of taking acquisition adventures from librarian and bookseller memoirs as proof of the larger trends at play within the literary archives market, this is the book for you. Chen’s pithy study takes us through the views of each stakeholder connected to a typical American literary archival collection, from creator to end user, mainly through both quantitative and qualitative examples using her meticulous dataset of those authors included in the seventh edition of The Norton Anthology of American Literature (hereafter NAAL).
This collaborative book uses Raymond Klibansky as a window through which the reader can become acquainted with the agents and circumstances the philosopher encountered and navigated throughout his life. Although the book demonsrates how Klibansky was the result of his context, it is also clear that his intellectual journey, his philosophical and philological enterprises, and his rigorous commitment to knowledge changed the intellectual landscapes of Art History, Medieval Studies, and Philosophy. The title accurately depicts the focus of the book; a discussion of Klibansky that does not acknowledge the network surrounding the Warburg Library is not possible, just as an attempt to revise the history of The Warburg Institute without mention of Klibansky’s contributions would be unimaginable.
Following work at the Bodleian Library, Mark Purcell became responsible for libraries in the care of the British National Trust, and he is now in the research-collections department at Cambridge University. With this background, and with his own scholarly focus on private and country-house libraries, he was eminently qualified to write this fine book. It has more than 225 illustrations, many of them in color. ☛ ☞