Scrubwoman, Astor Library, 1911 by John French Sloan
From “The Art and Manner of Arranging One’s Books,” collected in Species of Spaces and Other Pieces. English translation by John Surrock.
In the ideal logotopia, every person would possess his own library and add at least weekly if not daily to it. The walls of each home would seem made of books; wherever one looked one would only see spines; because every real book (as opposed to dictionaries, almanacs, and other compilations) is a mind, an imagination, a consciousness. Together they compose a civilization, or even several. Utopias, however, have the bad habit of hiding in their hearts those schemes for success, those requirements of power, rules concerning conduct, which someone will one day have to carry forward, employ and enforce, in order to achieve them, and afterward, to maintain the continued purity of their Being. Books have taught me what true dominion, what right rule, is: It is like the freely given assent and labor of the reader who will dream the dreams of the deserving page and expect no more fee than the reward of its words.
From William H. Gass’s “Gutenberg’s Triumph: An Essay in Defense of the Book.”
From Georges Perec’s “Reading: A Socio-Physiological Outline.” Collected in Species of Spaces and Other Pieces.