A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal by Nicholas A. Basbanes

By Nicholas A. Basbanes

While first released, A light Madness astounded and thrilled readers concerning the ardour and fee a collector is keen to make in pursuit of the publication. Written ahead of the emergence of the web yet newly up to date for the twenty first Century reader, A mild Madness captures that final second in time whilst creditors pursued their passions in dusty bookshops and road stalls, excessive stakes auctions, and the subterfuge beneficial of a real bibliomaniac. An event one of the bothered, A light Madness is vividly anecdotal and carefully researched. Nicholas Basbanes brings an investigative reporter s center to light up creditors previous and found in their pursuit of bibliomania. Now a undying vintage of amassing, no lover of books can leave out A mild Madness.

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His lawyers freely acknowledged that he had plundered libraries on a massive scale, so the central issue was not stolen books, but the state of his mind. The following week, twelve jurors would decide whether or not he should be sent to prison or found not guilty by reason of insanity. By the time of my trip to Iowa, I already had spent close to three years interviewing collectors, booksellers, and librarians throughout the United States in an attempt to understand the phenomenon of book collecting.

Arthur Alfonso Schomburg (1874–1938) circa 1910. Courtesy Figuras Historicas De Puerto Rico, Vol. 2, Adolfo R. Lopez, editor. 32. A page from the corrected typescript for the opening episode of Finnegans Wake. Courtesy of Sotheby’s. 33. Aaron Lansky, founder of the National Yiddish Book Center. Courtesy of National Yiddish Book Center. 34. The Holyoke, Massachusetts, annex of the National Yiddish Book Center. Courtesy of National Yiddish Book Center. 35. Summer interns working at the National Yiddish Book Center.

My journey brought me in contact with a breathtaking variety of riches. At the Huntington Library, I saw 5,300 fifteenth-century books, known as incunabula, stored two floors below ground level in an area called the outer vault. Behind a two-foot-thick steel door, in the inner vault, I handled the manuscript of Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, a presentation copy of John Smith’s History of Virginia, and a copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland given by the illustrator, John Tenniel, to the engraver, with comments by Lewis Carroll (Charles Dodgson) written inside.

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