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A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes,…
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A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for… (Original 1995; 1999. Auflage)

von Nicholas A. Basbanes

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen / Diskussionen
2,955343,636 (4.11)1 / 162
The passion to possess books has never been more widespread than it is today; indeed, obsessive book collecting remains the only hobby to have a disease named after it. A Gentle Madness is an adventure among the afflicted. Author Nicholas Basbanes, a dedicated bibliophile himself, begins his book 2,200 years ago in Alexandria, when a commitment was made to gather all the world's knowledge beneath one roof. In a series of lively chapters, the continuum then passes through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to the twentieth century with a special emphasis on book lore and book culture in Great Britain and North America. In the second half of A Gentle Madness, Basbanes offers a gallery of revealing profiles of living collectors and presents exclusive examinations of the great contemporary stories. The book also includes the most comprehensive bibliography on book collecting compiled in more than a quarter century.… (mehr)
Mitglied:mak_mohn
Titel:A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books
Autoren:Nicholas A. Basbanes
Info:Holt Paperbacks (1999), Paperback, 638 pages
Sammlungen:Deine Bibliothek
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A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books von Nicholas A. Basbanes (1995)

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Summary: An entertaining journey through the history and contemporary world of book collecting, and the “bibliomanes” whose passion for books formed amazing collections.

I think it is obvious that I love books. More precisely, I love reading books and talking about them. I do have a number of books in my home (and have donated or sold large numbers). I am a bibliophile, but not a bibliomane. This is the “gentle madness” Nicholas Basbanes writes about in this thick, delightful book you just don’t want to end because of the interesting stories of bibliomanes. The title comes from a description of Isaiah Thomas as being stricken with “the gentlest of infirmities, bibliomania.”

The most interesting difference between bibliophiles and bibliomanes, is that the former love reading books, while the latter collect them. The collectors usually have some focus in their collecting, from first editions of great books, to everything coming from the hand of a particular author or set of authors. I love finding books at the lowest price. Collectors pay attention to price but will spare no expense for something they want. At the very beginning, we meet a chef and restaurateur, Louis Szathmary, whose collection of cookbooks and artifacts filled sixteen semi-trailers and went to half a dozen institutions. And this is the fascinating part of the story. So often the collecting efforts of individuals accomplished what great libraries could not–forming distinctive collections that eventually enhanced these libraries’ holdings, whether Samuel Pepys, whose holdings went to Cambridge, John Harvard’s library that formed the core of the university named after him or the Huntington Library formed out of the personal collection of Henry Huntington. For that matter, Thomas Jefferson’s substantial library became the core of the Library of Congress.

Basbanes takes us through the fascinating world of booksellers, agents of buyers, and auctions of rare books. We are introduced to the high priced world of incunabula, early printed books, usually those printed before 1501. He describes a sale of Shakespeare’s First Folio, a collection of 36 plays for $2.1 million in 1989 (recently Christie’s auctioned a copy for $10 million). We learn of Ruth Baldwin who collected children’s books, eventually installing this collection at the University of Florida. Then there is Harry Hunt Ransom, who became the driving force behind the Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas. Ransom cozied up to Texas politicos awash in funds from the Texas oil industry.

One of the unavoidable realities of collecting was the death (or sometimes the insolvency) of the collector. The efforts and funds to build up a collection then required the organizing, curating, and protecting of these rare resources. Inevitably, the question arises of the disposition of the collection. We learn both about auctions that form the inheritance of future generations, and the intentional donation or sale of libraries to other institutions. In some cases, the donor came along with the library during their life as did Ruth Baldwin who oversaw the installation of her children’s books and continued to curate the collection until shortly before her death.

Perhaps the strangest story is that of the collector who stole rather than bought his collection. Stephen Carrie Blumberg amassed a collection of Americana in his home in Ottumwa, Iowa valued at roughly $20 million. It consisted of stolen materials from libraries from all over the country. His thefts involved everything from stolen or duplicated keys to crawling through ventilation systems. Eventually he was caught. Basbanes interviewed him during his trial, during which he recounted his drive to build “his” collection and how he obtained it.

This book has become something of a “classic” among book lovers. If nothing else, it is comfort to most of us who may be berated for how many books we have. If nothing else, we can point to people even more eccentric than we are. They are each uniquely eccentric, yet also incredibly focused to assemble their collections. We learn about this gentle madness that has existed as long as there were books, and even become acquainted with some through the author’s travels and discussions with them. And since this book is out of print (though listed on Amazon and other sites), you can have a taste of the fun of collecting in finding a copy. If you love books about books and those who collect them, this is a treasure trove for your own collection. ( )
  BobonBooks | Nov 4, 2020 |
Every man is a book. Books are never too many. It's a never ending story. We are all born readers, we think we are writers, we become bibliophiles, we end off bibliomaniacs. Our destiny is to write the book of our life and so we are novelists of ourselves. True writers or plagiarists, we write to understand what we think and what we are. Day after day we fill in pages after pages, we write poems, invent stories, produce drama, on traditional paper or in bits & bytes. We are never tired to use words in search of love and truth, beauty and glory, fame and destiny. The more we write, the less we know about this never ending story ...

----

Ogni uomo è un libro. Ma i libri non sono mai troppi. Una storia infinita. Nasciamo lettori, ci crediamo scrittori, diventiamo bibliofili, finiamo bibliomani. Il nostro destino è scrivere il libro della nostra vita e così diventiamo i romanzieri di noi stessi. Veri scrittori o plagiari, scriviamo per capire quello che pensiamo e pensiamo di essere. Giorno dopo giorno riempiamo le pagine della nostra vita, scriviamo poesie, inventiamo storie, scriviamo commedie, su carta o in "bits & bytes". Non siamo mai stanchi di usare parole in cerca di amore e verità, gloria e bellezza, fama e destino. Più scriviamo, meno sappiamo su questa storia infinita ... ( )
  AntonioGallo | Oct 25, 2019 |
School Library Journal ( )
  WKULME | May 9, 2018 |
This is a lengthy, comprehensive, well-researched litany of just about every book auction, collection, and book fiend that ever existed. Personnally, I ate it up, but unless you are equally obsessed, a reader might find it a bit dry after a while. The distribution of so many book estates, book thefts, and book fights all start to sound the same. It makes you think we are a bunch of lunatics, of course the title does imply that. However, if you are studying certain collections, particularly desired books, histories or biographies of book people, whether sellers or collectors, you will probably find it here. ( )
  varielle | Jul 14, 2017 |
Un gran llibre per aprendre una mica més de bibliologia. A great book to learn a little more about bibliology. ( )
  Biblioaprenent | Dec 17, 2016 |
Nicholas A. Basbanes has compiled a wonderful gallery of modern eccentrics, isolates, charmers and visionaries.
hinzugefügt von jburlinson | bearbeitenWashington Post Book World, Michael Dirda (Jul 30, 1995)
 
Reading this prodigiously researched, often absorbing tome, one can almost hear the cries of dozens of smaller books begging to be let out...[Basbanes'] constant theme, effectively hammered home, is that collectors, whatever their vanity or skulduggery, have been responsible for the preservation of knowledge that might otherwise have been lost.
hinzugefügt von jburlinson | bearbeitenPublishers Weekly (Jul 3, 1995)
 

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AutorennameRolleArt des AutorsWerk?Status
Nicholas A. BasbanesHauptautoralle Ausgabenberechnet
Dürer, AlbrechtUmschlagillustrationCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
Szafranski, PaulaGestaltungCo-Autoreinige Ausgabenbestätigt
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O blessed Letters, that combine in one
All ages past, and make one live with all:
By you we doe conferre with who are gone,
And the dead-living unto councell call:
By you th' unborne shall have a communion
Of what we feel, and what doth us befall.

—SAMUEL DANIEL,
Musophilus, 1599

I cannot live without books.

—THOMAS JEFFERSON,
Letter to John Adams, 1815

In nature the bird who gets up earlier catches the most worms, but in book-collecting the prizes fall to birds who know worms when they see them.

—MICHAEL SADLIER,
The Colophon, Number 3, 1930

Anything can be anywhere.

—ZACK JENKS,
Cadillac Jack, by Larry McMurtry
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The passion to possess books has never been more widespread than it is today; indeed, obsessive book collecting remains the only hobby to have a disease named after it. A Gentle Madness is an adventure among the afflicted. Author Nicholas Basbanes, a dedicated bibliophile himself, begins his book 2,200 years ago in Alexandria, when a commitment was made to gather all the world's knowledge beneath one roof. In a series of lively chapters, the continuum then passes through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to the twentieth century with a special emphasis on book lore and book culture in Great Britain and North America. In the second half of A Gentle Madness, Basbanes offers a gallery of revealing profiles of living collectors and presents exclusive examinations of the great contemporary stories. The book also includes the most comprehensive bibliography on book collecting compiled in more than a quarter century.

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