Essays in Honour of Gabriele Müller-Oberhäuser
Edited By Simon Rosenberg and Sandra Simon
Swift as Bookman: Reader, Collector, and Donor
Hermann Josef Real, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität, Münster
Jonathan Swift is known as a voracious reader and collector of books; he is less well known as a donor of books. Books were tools conducive to securing patronage; vehicles on the road to (self)education, and, also, as marks of affection, respect, and remembrance they were meant to give joy.
Büchern bin ich zugeschworen,Bücher bilden meine Welt.Bin an Bücher ganz verloren,Bin von Büchern rings umstellt.
Zärter noch als MännerwangenStreichl ich ein geliebtes Buch,Atme bebend vor VerlangenEchten Pergamentgeruch.
Inkunabeln, Erstausgaben,Sonder-, Luxus-, Einzeldruck:Alles, alles möcht ich haben …
Karl Wolfskehl, Lobgesang (1932, adapted)
The Dean of St Patrick’s, Dublin, is known to posterity as a reader and collector of books; he is less well known as a donor of books. In principle, such activities seem clear-cut and straightforward; in practice, they frequently overlap, intermingle, and at times even merge. Throughout his career, Swift’s reading of books was avid, regular, and consistent. Early biographers like Patrick Delany report that during his great reading period at Moor Park, Sir William Temple’s country estate, the young Jonathan persistently studied “at least eight hours a day, one with another, for seven years,”1 dutifully ‘abstracting’ many of the titles he pored over – Paolo Sarpi’s History of the Council of Trent of 1676 and Thomas Hobbes’s translation of Thucydides’ History of...
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