Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Enemies of Books

William Blades - The Enemies of Books (1880)

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In contrast to yesterday's post celebrating bibliophilia here's one that's a collection of horror stories for us.  William Blades (a London printer and biographer of Caxton) compiles all the various ways books and even entire libraries can be destroyed.  Chapters cover fire, water, dust, gas, ignorance, bookworms (the actual insect), bookbinders, collectors and "Servants and Children".  Many accounts are drawn from his own experiences such as finding pages from a Caxton volume being torn out to stuff a hole in the wall.  But there are others from historical and journalist sources, librarians and collectors.  Perhaps read along with Reynolds & Wilson's Scribes and Scholars and wonder that we have anything left that's over a few centuries old.