from Paul Willems’ “Reading”

“And so the naturalist’s almanac, one of this library’s oldest inhabitants, witness to our nights of reading at Missembourg, tells us of events that have resounded in the walls of this old house, of meteors that have streaked through the skies, of trees struck by lightning, flowers startled by frost, of hailstorms, showers, and drought. But here, in the library, time has stood still for 108 years. Only the fine gray snow of dust commingled with moments gathers slowly on the edges of books in the almost geological strata by which time in libraries is measured. For these books measure time. Some here have an embarrassed air from still being white along the edges. Others, in addition to the dust that makes them seem dressed in comfy old suits, retain traces of each reading, and commemorate its events…”

Translated by Edward Gauvin

 

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