Dick Johnson submitted these thoughts on the disposition of authors' libraries.
I note with interest Dave Bowers has purged his library of a large number of books on sunken treasure and other treasure trove. Lucky for the rest of us to now have the opportunity to acquire these book treasurers ourselves.
But it does bring up the question: When should an author dispose of part or all of his library? I like Dave's solution. Apparently he no longer needs these books to write on the subject in the future. Can we believe he has extracted all the meat he needs from these volumes? Has he squeezed all the juice from these literary tidbits?
I have done the same by consigning small groups to the numismatic auction block in the past (more for a need of shelf space than anything else). The largest group was to Harmar Rooke (circa 1970) as a favor to Don Taxay who had recently been hired by the New York firm. I realized I must downsize when I had five Crosby's and forty-some-odd Evans'. (I had attempted to amass a "roll" of fifty Evans' and I almost made it!)
This week I read an article which addressed this same problem - it was mentioned by John Lupia in last week's E-Sylum.
The problem seems universal for writers. From the fact Ernest Hemingway's 9,000 volume library is still impounded intact in his Cuban villa, to a fiction writer, David Markson, who insisted his library be disseminated by the Strand bookstore. (Lucky him, he lived only a few blocks from the Strand and visited it two or three times a week. I wish I could do that in a year!)
It's a lengthy article, but highly enjoyable, as each of must face the mortality of our own book collection.
To read the original Boston Globe article, see:
Lost libraries: The strange afterlife of authors’ book collections
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
LOST LIBRARIES: THE STRANGE AFTERLIFE OF AUTHORS’ BOOK COLLECTIONS
Wayne Homren, Editor
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