serendipity – Russian version, part 1

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I have been weeding the Russian Literature collection in our library. Poor Russian authors! No one is reading them. I think I might join the Russian Authors challenge just to give them a boost. Well despite all the dust and despair, I did come across a few things that I thought were interesting. The first is a collection of short stories by Isaac Babel – You Must Know Everything. I’ve never read Babel, but I’m going to add him to my short story list. The story, “The Public Library,” caught my eye, of course. I haven’t read it yet, but this is how it opens:

You can feel straightaway that The Book reigns supreme here. All the people who work in the library have entered into communion with The Book, with life at second-hand, and have themselves become, as it were, a mere reflection of the living….It is quite possible that at home they drink methylated spirits on Saturday and systematically beat their wives. But in the library they are as quiet as mice, self-effacing, withdrawn, and somber.

I can see where other librarians might find this a tad offensive, but it makes me chuckle.


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