Bibliomania: the strange history of compulsive book buying

bibliomaniaBeing one given to this “disorder,” I found this history of “bibliomania” quite interesting. Perhaps you will too, whether prone to it or not. Regardless of whether you reach this stage of book craving, I hope you at least have some bibliophilia in your soul.

Enjoy the good read below; here is a start:

Posted Jan.26, 2017 at The Guardian

In the 19th century, book collecting became common among gentlemen, mostly in Britain, and grew into an obsession that one of its participants called “bibliomania”. Thomas Frognall Dibdin, an English cleric and bibliographer, wrote Bibliomania, or Book Madness: A Bibliographical Romance, which was a gentle satire of those he saw as afflicted with this “neurosis”. Dibdin medicalised the condition, going so far as to provide a list of symptoms manifested in the particular types of books that they obsessively sought: “First editions, true editions, black letter-printed books, large paper copies; uncut books with edges that are not sheared by binder’s tools; illustrated copies; unique copies with morocco binding or silk lining; and copies printed on vellum.”

But Dibdin himself was obsessed with the physical aspects of books, and in his descriptions paid an intense attention to the details of their bindings and printings (rather than the content) that betrayed his own love. In a letter published in an 1815 journal, he beseeched subscribers to bulk up their subscriptions to help complete a set of volumes called The Bibliographical Decameron – more beautiful than they could imagine. “I should be loth to promise what is not likely to be performed, or to incur the censure of vanity or presumption in asserting that the materials already collected, in this department of the work, are more numerous, more beautiful, and more faithful, than any which, to my knowledge, have come under the eye of the publick.”

Source: Bibliomania: the strange history of compulsive book buying | Books | The Guardian

Published in: on February 23, 2017 at 6:37 AM  Leave a Comment  

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