Monday, September 30, 2013

The subversiveness of libraries

From Madame Bovary. Leon has departed and Emma is behaving peculiarly. Charles asks his mother's advice on what to do. She needs hard work, his mother suggests. But she's always busy doing things, Charles replies:
"Doing something! Yes, reading novels - wicked books - works against religion, that ridicule the priests with quotations out of Voltaire! It's playing with fire, that is, my boy! Anyone without religion will always go wrong in the end!" So they decided to prevent Emma reading novels. It seemed no light undertaking. The good lady said she would do it, by stopping at the lending-library on her way through Rouen and telling them that Emma was giving up her subscription.
The subversive power of the written word. And the subversive power of those purveyors of the written word, the public library. We're in the death throes of the public library movement in the UK at the moment. Within a few years it won't exist in its current form. What will we do then? Where will we turn for the subversive word, for Voltaire, for Twain, for those who dare to question the authorities?


CempazĂșchitl said...

We will be in a place called "A Brave New World"...

Tom Conoboy said...

Huxley and Orwell do seem to grow more prescient with every passing year.