book cover of The Library at Night

The Library at Night

(2006)
A non fiction book by

 
 
In the tradition of A History of Reading, The Library at Night is the captivating, wide-ranging story of the critical role that libraries have played in our civilization.

Inspired by the process of designing, constructing and organizing a library at his home in France, Alberto Manguel, the acclaimed writer on books and reading, set out to show how libraries embody the memories of individuals and whole cultures. Anecdotal and thrilling, and drawing on sources as wide-ranging as his childhood bookshelves and the “complete” libraries of the Internet, The Library at Night reaches from Egypt and Greece to the Arab world, from China and Rome to Google. It gives us such famous collections as the doomed Library of Alexandria and the personal library of Samuel Pepys, who built high-heels for his smaller volumes so that all would appear the same size on the shelf; and tells of libraries that have preserved freedom of thought in the face of tyranny - as did the small, crucial children's library at Auschwitz.

But magically, this is also a book of “night-time” libraries: the “memory libraries” of prisoners, and libraries of banned books such as those censored by Stalin or Joseph McCarthy, as well as the monumental libraries built by poet-architects like Michelangelo and awful philanthropists like Carnegie. It takes in imaginary libraries, like those carried by Count Dracula and Frankenstein's monster on their precarious journeys, and visits the library every reader longs to discover, the library of books never written - including Lovecraft's Necronomicon. Manguel makes the case for a cooperative balance between the preservation of books by libraries and the electronic storage and transmittal of information, and uses many wonderful images throughout to illustrate his stories.

The Library at Night is a fascinating voyage through Manguel's mind, memory and vast knowledge of books and civilizations.

The starting point is a question.

Outside theology and fantastic literature, few can doubt that the main features of our universe are its dearth of meaning and lack of discernible purpose. And yet, with bewildering optimism, we continue to assemble whatever scraps of information we can gather in scrolls and books and computer chips, on shelf after library shelf, whether material, virtual or otherwise, pathetically intent on lending the world a semblance of sense and order, while knowing perfectly well that, however much we'd like to believe the contrary, our pursuits are sadly doomed to failure.

Why then do we do it? Though I knew from the start that the question would most likely remain unanswered, the quest seemed worthwhile for its own sake. This book is the story of that quest.

- from The Library at Night



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Used availability for Alberto Manguel's The Library at Night

Hardback Editions

April 2008 : USA Hardback
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Title: The Library at Night
Author(s): Alberto Manguel
ISBN: 0-300-13914-4 / 978-0-300-13914-3 (USA edition)
Publisher: Yale University Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


September 2006 : USA Hardback
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Title: The Library at Night
Author(s): Alberto Manguel
ISBN: 0-676-97588-7 / 978-0-676-97588-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Knopf Canada
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Paperback Editions

April 2009 : USA Paperback
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Title: The Library at Night
Author(s): Alberto Manguel
ISBN: 0-300-15130-6 / 978-0-300-15130-5 (USA edition)
Publisher: Yale University Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


October 2007 : USA Paperback
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Title: The Library at Night
Author(s): Alberto Manguel
ISBN: 0-676-97589-5 / 978-0-676-97589-5 (USA edition)
Publisher: Vintage Canada
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Kindle Editions

July 2011 : Canada Kindle edition
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Title: The Library at Night
Author(s): Alberto Manguel
Publisher: Vintage Canada
Availability: Amazon CA   


April 2008 : USA, UK Kindle edition
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Title: The Library at Night
Author(s): Alberto Manguel
Publisher: Yale University Press
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK