A Library the Internet Can’t Get Enough Of


The library, it must be identified, will not be in Europe. It doesn’t even exist anymore. But when it did, it was the dwelling library of Johns Hopkins professor Dr. Richard Macksey in Baltimore. (I used to be his scholar in 2015 and interviewed him for Literary Hub in 2018.) Dr. Macksey, who handed away in 2019, was a ebook collector, polyglot and scholar of comparative literature. At Hopkins, he based certainly one of the nation’s first interdisciplinary educational departments and arranged the 1966 convention “The Languages of Criticism and the Sciences of Man,” which included the first stateside lectures by the French theorists Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, Jacques Lacan and Paul de Man.

Dr. Macksey’s ebook assortment clocked in at 51,000 titles, in keeping with his son, Alan, excluding magazines and different ephemera. A decade in the past, the most respected items — together with first editions of “Moby Dick,” T.S. Eliot’s “Prufrock and Other Observations,” and works by Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley — had been moved to a “special collections” room on the Hopkins campus. After Dr. Macksey’s loss of life, a S.W.A.T. team-like group of librarians and conservationists spent three weeks combing by means of his book-filled, 7,400-square-foot home to pick out 35,000 volumes so as to add to the college’s libraries.

Surprise discoveries included an 18th-century Rousseau textual content with charred covers (present in the kitchen), a “pristine” copy of a uncommon Nineteen Fifties exhibition catalog displaying Wassily Kandinsky’s work, posters from the May 1968 protests when college students in Paris occupied the Sorbonne, a hand-drawn Christmas card from the filmmaker John Waters, and the authentic recordings of the theorists at that 1966 structuralism convention.

“For years, everyone had said ‘there’s got to be recordings of those lectures.’ Well, we finally found the recordings of those lectures. They were hidden in a cabinet behind a bookshelf behind a couch,” mentioned Liz Mengel, affiliate director of collections and educational companies for the Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins. Several first editions by Twentieth-century poets and novelists sat on a shelf in the laundry room.

After the librarians from Hopkins and close by Loyola Notre Dame had been completed choosing their donations, the remaining books had been carted away by a vendor, so Dr. Macksey’s son may put together the home to be offered.