Yun Lee Too
The Idea of the Library in the Ancient WorldOxford University Press Oxford 2010, 250 pp.
The Idea of the Library in the Ancient World takes the reader not just to Alexandria, the home of the famed library of Greco-Roman antiquity, but far beyond it. Reading across antiquity from the fifth century BCE to the ninth century CE with Photius, the Byzantine scholar, this study recognizes that ‘library’ in antiquity comes in various forms and shapes. It can be a building with books, but it can also be individual people and individual books themselves. Its functions in antiquity are also numerous. The library is an instrument of power, of memory, of which it has various modes; it is an articulation of a political ideal, an art gallery, a place for social intercourse. The book indirectly raises issues about the contemporary library as a collection and in this way it demonstrates that antiquity offers insight into the topics that the library now raises.
Abbreviations (p. X)
Introduction: The Idea of the Library (pp. 1-15)
Origins: The Diacronic Perspective
1. The Birth of a Library (pp. 19-49)
2. Library Catalogues: From Literary Description to Literary Self-Description (pp. 50-79)
Forms of the Library
3. The Breathing Library: Performing Cultural Memories (pp. 83-115)
4. The Library (as) Book: The Fantasy of the Total Text (pp. 116-142)
5. The Library of Universal History: Diodorus Siculus and Literary Cosmopolitanism (pp. 143-165)
6. Inside and Outside the Library: The Memory of Canon (pp. 173-188)
7. Picture Libraries: Statues among the Books (pp. 191-214)
8. The Sociality of the Ancient Library (pp. 215-243)
Concluding Thoughts (p. 244)
References (pp. 245-253)
General Index (pp. 254-257)
Index Locorum (pp. 258-265).
Yun Lee Too has held research fellowships at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge and the Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington and has taught at the University of Liverpool and Columbia University.