SAECVLA SPIRIRALIA   37

Eric GARBERSON: Eighteenth-Century Monastic Libraries in Southern Germany and Austria. Architecture and Decorations. 1998. XII, 264 pages, 4 figures, 34 plates.

Of all the buildings that survive from the early modern period, libraries seem the least familiar, due perhaps to the false but understandable assumption that their function as places for the storage and use of books is hardly different from that of most libraries today. Books, after all, have changed very little in form or materials since the sixteenth century. They are still stored upright on open horizontal shelves between vertical supports. Despite these similarities, however, the library, as both book collection and book-filled space, was a very different entity in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Such is particularly true of monastic libraries, which existed in great numbers and have survived more often and more fully intact than any other kind of library from the period. Constructed for use within the closed structures of the monastery, these libraries were meant to fulfil a very specific set of functions that cannot be taken for granted or assumed to be the same as those of present-day libraries.

»It is, in many ways, a wonderfully informative work offered in English [...] The achievement of Garberson's book is his consideration of how these libraries were used, ’and the relation of the library and its decoration to the concerns of contemporary (that is 1650-1800) monasticism’. Beyond immediate religious contexts, his book is highly successful in locating these monastic libraries within political, social, and cultural contexts, as well as within the formal history of the build domain. [...] Garberson's investigation of the decorative program in the monastic library represents a major and important component within his impressive study, one that helps us comprehend why it was considered essential in that time and place to lavish talent and money on spaces for book storage. «
Christian F. Otto in CENTROPA 2.2: May 2002, pp. 155f

»Garberson is the first art historian whose work relates library architecture and ist decor during the Baroque period to the purpose of libraries and their builders' intentions. His study demonstrates how the old religious orders used the Zeitgeist's emphasis on iconography to justify their relevance to society and to illustrate knowledge. «
Mathilde V. Rovelstad in Libraries & Culture 36.2 (2001), p. 3

»Insgesamt ist ein anregender Band anzuzeigen, der von einem anderen Kontinent her endlich wieder einmal mit Nachdruck auf ein Phänomen des Kulturbetriebes der Frühen Neuzeit in Mitteleuropa aufmerksam macht, das der interdisziplinären Aufarbeitung bedarf. [...] Im Vergleich mit dem Opus magnum von Lehmann ist diesem eindeutig der Vorrang zuzuerkennen.«
Alois Schmid in der Zeitschrift für bayerische Landesgeschichte, Band 64, Heft 1 (2001), Seite 230

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