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Unashamedly a book for the bookish, yet accessible and frequently entertaining, this is the first book devoted to how libraries are depicted in imaginative writing. Covering fiction, poetry, and drama from the late Middle Ages to the present, it runs the gamut of British and American literature, as well as examining a range of fiction in other languages--from Rabelais and Cervantes to modern and contemporary French, Italian, Japanese, and Russian writing.
While the tropes of the complex catalogue and the bibliomaniacal reader persist throughout the centuries, libraries also emerge as societal battle-sites where issues of personality, gender, cultural power, and national identity are contested repeatedly and often in surprising ways. As well as examining how libraries were deployed in their work by canonical authors from Cervantes, Shakespeare, and Swift to Jane Austen, George Eliot, and Jorge Luis Borges, the volume also examines in detail the haunted libraries of Margaret Oliphant and M. R. James, and a range of much less familiar historic and contemporary authors. Alert to the depiction of librarians as well as of book-rooms and institutional readers, this book will inform, entertain, and delight. At a time when traditional libraries are under pressure, Libraries in Literature
shows the power of their lasting fascination.