Love’s Labour Won and Other Tragedies

A wonderful short article from WSJ on the history of great lost books, from Shakespeare’s Loves’ Labour Won to the rediscovery of early works by Shelly and Capote.

I am a starved bibliophile, having given up largely on collecting over the last five years or so. But I often fondly miss the books I have owned over the years.

Just imagine all that we have lost over the centuries of recorded literature, and how our world is shaped not necessarily by the brightness of the works before us, but the survivours of those times before us. Imagine a world without Summa Theologica, or Don Quixote. Now imagine these are the also-rans, the poor cousins of vastly superior works lost to the cosmos.

My idea of heaven would be to be transported back to the great Library of Alexandria, with all the knowledge and access and time I needed to read all that was lost to the fire. Imagine a world that retained all the lost knowledge that great storehouse held? Imagine the centuries it took us, and may still take us to recover. Perhaps we never will. In my opinion this is the greatest single tragedy of mankind.

Oh, and not surprisingly, for the same reason, I think this is my all time favorite piece of TV: The Twilight Zone episode entitled: Time Enough At Last

I’ve provided the link only to the final heart-breaking third section, but oh my what an episode for a near-sighted, foolish old bibliophile like myself.

God Bless Burgess Meredith.

Opening Narration:
“Witness Mr. Henry Bemis, a charter member in the fraternity of dreamers. A bookish little man whose passion is the printed page, but who is conspired against by a bank president and a wife and a world full of tongue-cluckers and the unrelenting hands of a clock. But in just a moment, Mr. Bemis will enter a world without bank presidents or wives or clocks or anything else. He’ll have a world all to himself, without anyone.”

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