My friend Susan Ivey just passed along this interesting New Yorker piece about “the world’s most eccentric and original library,” the Warburg Institute, in London.
It is a library like no other in Europe—in its cross-disciplinary reference, its peculiarities, its originality, its strange depths and unexpected shallows. Magic and science, evil eyes and saints’ lives: these things repose side by side in a labyrinth of imagery and icons and memory. Dan Brown’s hero Robert Langdon supposedly teaches “symbology” at Harvard. There is no such field, but if there were, and if Professor Langdon wanted to study it before making love to mysterious Frenchwomen and nimbly avoiding Opus Dei hit men, this is where he would come to study.
Unfortunately its future seems to be in jeopardy which, alas, seems not particularly surprising, given the conformist culture in which we live.