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The Anatomy of Bibliomania
Release Date: December, 1988
Publisher: Avenel Books
An unmitigated delight for any bibliophile, Holbrook Jackson's "Anatomy of Bibliomania" is the cornerstone of his indispensable trio of books on 'the usefulness, purpose, and pleasures that proceed from books'. "The Anatomy of Bibliomania" begins at the beginning, when books first started to appear, and gives book lovers the solace and company of book lovers from ancient Rome, the Renaissance, and the Romantics. Jackson inspects the allure of books, their curative and restorative properties, and the passion for them that leads to bibliomania ('a genial mania, less harmful than the sanity of the sane'). With deliciously understated wit, he comments on why we read, where we read - on journeys, at mealtimes, on the toilet (this has 'a long but mostly unrecorded history'), in bed, and in prison - and what happens to us when we read. He touches on bindings, bookworms, libraries, and the sport of book hunting, as well as the behavior of borrowers, embezzlers, thieves, and collectors. Francis Bacon, Anatole France, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Leigh Hunt, Marcel Proust, Ralph Waldo Emerson, William Shakespeare, and scores of other luminaries chime in on books and their love for them. Unlike most manias, bibliomania is an ennobling affliction, worth cultivating, improving, and enjoying to its heights and depths. Entertaining as well as instructive, "The Anatomy of Bibliomania" is a book no book lover - and certainly no bibliomaniac - can afford to be without.
||0.7 x 5.4 x 8.6 in.
"The best books for you are the books you like best ."
Posted by J. Guild on 4/4/2008
If you are an aficionado of "books about Books" ,you'll love this classic.
The author,Holbrook Jackson ,who died in 1948 at the age of 73 was one of England's foremost men of letters.He was primarily a "bookman" who loved books and everything about them,and what they were to him ,he wanted them to be for others.It has been said, that when it came to books he was a conductor,not a composer-and what a brilliant conductorhe was.
This book was first published in 1930 when Jackson was 55. It came out in 2 volunes comprising 435 pages and a small printing of only 1,000 copies. It has been reprinted in several editions and still available in a soft cover. It is one of those books that people hold onto and is readily available in various editions. I bought my copy in "The Sleepy Hollow Bookshop" in Midland ,Michigan,in 1997.It is the Hardcover edition ,published in 1950,consisting of 668 pages ,excellent condition,including the dj,and very reasonable priced at $20. As I have always been attracted to books about books,I was captivated by it immediately. Since that time,I have glanced at it many times,but finally got aroumnd to reading it through. Since the time I bought it,I've read several other books about books and written reviews on them. I 've enjoyed them all ,but this is without doubt a classic.
You must keep in mind that this book was written 60 years ago .It also concentrates mainly on British and European books,collectors,authors,classics,etc.However;what the author writes about applies to any books anywhere.He covers everything imaginable about readers,collectors ,booksellers,collections and not muchabout authors ,other than their love of books,versus writing them. Also,don't think that ,with so many pages,the book is too detailed and gets bogged down.There ree co many subjects covered that any subject covered is done in a couple of pages.It is broken down into 32 Parts or Chapters.with each Part again broken down into several sectionsFor instance ,Part XXXIV,
The Symptons of Bi"Tbliomania;there are 7 sub sections;
I.The Symptons Introduced
II. Wherein the Madness Lies
III. Its Main Character an Obsession
IV. Of Hording
V. Bibliotaphs and Book Misers
VII. The Mania for Rarity.
All this is covered in 18 pages.
One thing that becomes very evident is the immense difference with readers and books from the time this book was written and today ;is the introduction of the Internet on the whole world of Bibliography. Those were the days that most books were found in small local bookstores.Book lovers spent endless hours searching bookstores in hopes of finding their books. Now virtually any book can be found and acquired via the Internet. Also,Bookfairs and Events like street sales are great ways to find books and even meet authors.In Totonto we have huge charitible used
book sales run by Univrersities.;who get donations of books from theri Alumni.
And then we have Amazon and the communitaion among readers with Customer Reviews. All these new advancements would be totally unimaginable,to Bibliophiles.But ,once again,all the things that Jackson talks about are stii as revalent today as they were then ;but even more so.
Posted by Matt Curtin on 12/6/2005
I found the place by accident; I always do. It isn't as though I set out looking for them but they call out to me. I don't even have to see them. Sometimes I can simply sense their presence. The closer I draw, the greater their insistence, the more persuasive their arguments, and the stronger the attraction. A good bookstore is irresistible.
Some time ago, I was with some friends and we stopped in a café briefly. My bookstore indicator went through the roof and after very little looking, I discovered the Acorn bookstore in Grandview. I'll save the complete story for another time. Inside, I found a book of particular interest: one that might describe how I am able to discover such bookstores so easily and why I am so enamored of books. The volume was Holbrook Jackson's The Anatomy of Bibliomania, this 1981 edition being supertitled, The Book About Books.
"Bibliomania" sounded like a strong word to me-its meaning obviously being "book-madness." Nevertheless, consideration of the possibility seemed wise, and likely a pleasurable task, as it would include an addition to my library and some hours spent in reading and introspection. After looking over the extensive table of contents, I turned to the opening and read, "The Author to the Reader." Therein, it said:
"Gentle Reader, I presume thou wilt be very inquisitive to know what antic or personate actor it is that so insolently intrudes upon this common theatre to the world's view, arrogating as you will soon find, another man's style and method: whence he is, why he does it, and what he has to say. 'Tis a proper attitude, and the questions clear and reasonable themselves, but I owe thee no answer, for if the contents please thee, 'tis well; if they be useful, 'tis an added value; if neither, pass on, nor, in the observation of what wise Glanvill, hath any one need to complain, since no one is concerned about what another Prints, further than himself pleaseth; and since Men have liberty to read our Books, or not, they should give us leave to write what we like, or forbear, which for the most part they do.
"Yet in some sort to give thee satisfaction, which thou hast a right to demand, since I have caused my book to be printed and sold for money, I will show a reason both of this usurped title and style. And first for the name and form, which I hae so freely adapted from Robert Burton his Anatomy of Melancholy: lest any man by reason of it should be deceived, expecting a pasquil, a scherzo, a burlesque, a satire, some humorous or fantastic treatise (as I myself should have done, recalling that all parodies are jests), I may at once undeceive him, for my intent is serious; I have gleaned the crops of innumerable authorities scattered far and wide, winnowing the chaff from the grain, and setting out the various species in such an order that they may best contribute to our knowledge of books in general and of Bibliomania in particular."
I was hooked, and purchased the book. Its structure is thirty-two parts, covering such things as "Of Books in General," "The Pleasure of Books," "The Art of Reading," "Study and Book-Learning," "A Pageant of Bookmen," "The Influence of Books," "Borrowers, Biblioklepts and Bestowers," "Of Bibliomania or Book-Madness," and concludes with "Bibliophily Triumphant."
A passage I found particularly noteworthy was "Men Who Become Books: Biblianthropus."
"If, as I have shown, pro captu lectoris habent sua fata libelli, [`The reader's fancy makes the fate of books'] books, as I have also shown, make the fate of their readers; it is a quid pro quo, give and take."
As I read through the text, I found that the treatise became an increasingly plausible argument that I afflicted by bibliomania. I have long believed in this quid pro quo and indeed have proclaimed to the entire world time and again that lego, ergo sum. Even so, in the sections where Jackson discusses the hunters and collectors of books, he shows that bibliomanes often do not read their books. Their love of books is often superficial, appreciating much about them but ultimately being driven by such things as greed, or at the very least profit. I found myself disconnected from the subjects of the discussion.
The opening of the conclusion, entitled "Wedded to Books," I found myself once again connected with the subject. Jackson advises:
"Let us love books as we love, dum vires annique sinunt, while we are in the flower of years, fit for love, and while time serves,
Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying."
Bibliophily is a natural and even healthful state, for books are the most timeless way for us to proclaim who we are and to find out who our ancestors were. I suggest that there is no better way to find one's place in the world than first to survey the world. I hold that there is no better way to survey the world and human experience than through books. With this knowledge of the world, one has a frame of reference for one's own experiences and can see one's own life in perspective. This understanding will not only enhance one's own experiences, but through discernment leads to wisdom: knowing what to do when confronted with decision, how to promote what is ultimately good. Or, as Johann Kaspar admonished:
"Act well at the moment, and you have performed a good action to all eternity."
So this is the crux of bibliophily for me, even if I do enjoy such simple pleasures as seeing, smelling, and touching books. Nevertheless, the world of books is large enough to allow for reading that is less purposeful in nature, even allowing for the pointless. Other bookmen, whether bibliomanes or bibliophiles, may well take liberty of disagreement with me; and I have no interest in preventing them in any case. Having taken Jackson's tour of bibliomania, I am well satisfied with both the content and presentation. And I'm delighted to have another volume to add to my library.