Bill Malkmus submitted these thoughts and a query on a bibliophile profiled in Nick Basbanes' book "A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books".
I read the comments in the last E-Sylum about Basbanes’ A Gentle Madness, and the discussion on whether or not it was sufficiently numismatic to include in The E-Sylum. I think that such aspersions are not justified.
I recall writing that bibliomania was our middle name in a different context some time back -- about eight years ago, I had a submission published in The Asylum (seemingly passing editorial scrutiny). This opus was entitled "Bibliomania Through the Ages: Four Mini-Reviews" (The Asylum, Vol. 24, No. 2 (2002), pp. 59-61). For me, this was a marvel of succinctness, only requiring three pages to cover four books. There was no explicit numismatic content in my article, other than an incidental note that Stephen Blumberg (the world-record holder for book theft) did, in fact, have a numismatics shelf in his purloined collection.
I am not surprised that Dan found Basbanes to be a captivating speaker as well as writer. I recall that I was so intrigued by his discussion of the rise and fall of Haven O’More as the "world’s greatest book collector" that I had made a note to myself to purchase any follow-up book that provided a resolution to the many questions brought up by this gentleman. I have recently been trying to find out myself, with some crude Google searches, but have not found anything really new that cannot be traced back to Basbanes himself.
Perhaps this erudite community could be posed some of these questions: What became of Haven O’More himself (and his three Ph.D.s and command of twenty languages)? Were all of the many millions of dollars he flaunted at auctions provided by his (very) silent partner? Has anyone here ever read his Sacrificial Bone Inscriptions? (Just for starters.)
Keep up the good work!
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
LECTURE BY AUTHOR OF "A GENTLE MADNESS"
Wayne Homren, Editor
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