Invisible Library #8: The Untold Story

UntoldStory-cov“Time-traveling Librarian spy Irene has faced unimaginable challenges across a multitude of worlds, but to keep her friends safe, Irene will have to do what has never been attempted and cut through the tangled web of power at the heart of the Library.

Irene is trying to learn the truth about Alberich — and the possibility that he’s her father. But when the Library orders her to kill him, and then Alberich himself offers to sign a truce, she has to discover why he originally betrayed the Library.

With her allies endangered and her strongest loyalties under threat, she’ll have to trace his past across multiple worlds and into the depths of mythology and folklore, to find the truth at the heart of the Library, and why the Library was first created.”

 [Text from the publisher’s website and the backcover]

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

This series by British author Genevieve Cogman goes beyond any traditional genre as it mixes them all: fantasy, science-fiction, mystery, horror or even cyber- and steampunk! It offers a fascinating universe where a secret library hidden in-between worlds has doors opening to an infinite variety of parallel dimensions. Its librarians are “stealing” unique books and manuscripts from each of those worlds in order to create a link with them and preserve the balance between order and chaos. The universe is engulfed in an eternal war of influence between the Fae (the agents of chaos) and the dragons (the agents of order). Humans inhabiting those worlds are only pawns in their hands. The protagonists of the story are junior Librarian Irene and her companions: Dragon prince Kai, victorian investigator Vale (a doppelgänger of Sherlock Holmes) and Fae apprentice Catherine… I have already commented on books one to four and books five to seven.

Irene is determined to put an end to Alberich’s threat once and for all (whether he is her father or not). However, in order to do so she has to investigate why he wanted to destroy the library. All the clues and stories that she discovers brings her to the mythology behind the creation of the Library and she discovers a foe far worse in the heart of the Library itself! 

This series was probably originally intended for a Young Adults audience, so it is not surprising that it is such an easy reading. It is well written, interesting and quite captivating. With its travelling between worlds, it offers action in different time periods therefore it is never boring and allow to switch effortlessly between fantasy and science-fiction. It really provides an entertaining and enjoyable reading experience. So I strongly recommend it to everyone who likes adventures and books ! 

Unfortunately this book is the end of the Library universe for now. The author said that it is not the end of the series (more like the end of a season) and that she intended to eventually come back to it. For now she would like to dedicate herself to a new project “in a completely different area (involving vampires and the Scarlet Pimpernel and a hapless maidservant who’d rather be doing embroidery)“: Scarlet to be published by Penguin Random House in May 2023.

The Invisible Library 8: The Untold Story, by Genevieve Cogman. New York: ACE (Berkley, imprint of Penguin Random House), December 2021. 384 pages, 8.25 x 5.5 in., $US 16.00 / $22.00 Can, ISBN 978-1-9848-0480-8, For YA readers (14+). stars-4-0

For more information you can check the following websites:

[ AmazonGoodreadsGoogleNelliganWikipediaWorldCat ]

© Genevieve Cogman, 2021.

[ Traduire ]

Miyazaki’s memoir

Miyazaki-StartingPoint-cov“In the first two decades of his career, filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki laid the groundwork for his legendary movies. Starting Point is a collection of essays, interviews, and memoirs that go back to the roots of Miyazaki’s childhood, the formulation of his theories of animation, and the founding of Studio Ghibli.

Before directing such acclaimed films as Spirited Away, Miyazaki was just another salaried animator, but with a vision of his own. Follow him as he takes his first steps on the road to success, experience his frustrations with the manga and animation industries that often suffocate creativity, and realize the importance of bringing the childhood dreams of the world to life.

Starting Point: 1979-1996 is not just a chronicle of the life of a man whose own dreams have come true, it is a tribute to the power of the moving image.” 

[Text from the publisher’s website; see also the backcover]

Starting Point: 1979-1996, by Hayao Miyazaki (Translated by Beth Cary and Frederik L. Schodt). San Francisco: Viz Media, April 2014, 462 pages, 6 x 9 in., $ US 16.99 / $C 22.99, ISBN 9781421561042. For teen readership (12+).

Miyazaki-TurningPoint-cov“In the mid-1990s, filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki moved from success to success as his work found an audience outside of Japan. His animated films of the era, including Princess Mononoke, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Ponyo, were internationally lauded, and Miyazaki won an Academy Award® in 2003 for his popular and critical hit Spirited Away.

Follow Miyazaki as his vision matures, as cinema-lovers worldwide embrace his creations, and as critics such as Roger Ebert take up the cause of animation and Miyazaki’s films. In a legendary career, these crucial years represent the turning point.”

[Text from the publisher’s website; see also the backcover]

Turning Point: 1997-2008, by Hayao Miyazaki (Translated by Beth Cary and Frederik L. Schodt). San Francisco: Viz Media, March 2021, 452 pages,  6 x 9 in., $ US 16.99 / $C 22.99, ISBN 9781974724505. For teen readership (12+).

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

If Osamu Tezuka is Japan’s god of manga, Hayao Miyazaki is certainly their god of animation. I noticed that lots has been written about him in the last decade. Just recently I mentioned the book Hommage à Hayao Miyazaki and a special issue of the French magazine Animeland entirely dedicated to the studio he created, Studio Ghibli (for more books suggestions check the list at the end of this article). However, who better to write about Miyazaki but the man himself? Earlier last year, Viz Media has published the second part of Hayao Miyazaki’s memoir (折り返し点―1997~2008 / Orikaeshi-ten: 1997~2008, first published in Japan by Iwanami Shoten in 2008): Turning Point: 1997-2008, so I thought I would talk a little about it. The first part of his Memoir, Starting Point: 1979-1996 [出発点―1979~1996 / Shuppatsuten: 1979~1996] was first published in Japan in 1996 by Tokuma Shoten and Viz Media published it in English in 2014.

This is not the kind of books that you read from cover to cover as it is more of a reference book that you slowly read, bit by bit. It is also a little difficult to describe this memoir as it is not a retelling of his life and experience in a chronological manner like memoir usually are. It is a collection of essays, interviews, magazine or newspaper articles, lectures, speeches, notes for video releases, etc., that Miyazaki wrote or gave or that are written by other people. It is very interesting but it is not an easy reading…


“Dining in midair” (p. 218)

The first book is divided in eight chapters (besides a foreword by John Lasseter and an Afterword by Isao Takahata): On Creating Animation (with articles like “My Point of Origin” or “Thoughts on Japanese Animation” — see the table of contents for a detailed list of articles), On the Periphery of the Work (with articles like “About Period Dramas” or “My Theories on the Popularity of Manga”), People (“My Teacher and I” or “I Left Raising Our Children to My Wife”), A Story in Color (Miyazaki short manga story “Dining in Midair”), My Favorite Things (“My Scrapbook” or “My Car”), Planning Notes; Directorial Memoranda (“A Proposal to Acquire Film Rights” or “Why Shojo Manga Now?”),  Works (“On Nausicaa” or “Speaking of Conan” or “The Pictures Are Already Moving Inside MY Head”) and Biographical Chronology. I particularly enjoyed the translated short color manga “Dining in Midair” and the excerpts of Miyazaki’s scrapbook.

The second book takes a slightly different approach. It is still a collection of essays and articles but this time organized around a couple of specific works: Princess Mononoke (1997) [with articles like “On Japan Animation Culture” or “Recalling the Days of my Youth” — see the table of contents for a detailed list of articles], Spirited Away (2001) [“Room to Be Free: Speaking about Spirited Away at the Press Conference Held Upon Completion of the Film” or “Comments on Receiving the 75th Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film”], Howl’s Moving Castle (2004) [“I’ve Always Wanted to Create a Film About Which I Could Say, “I’M Just Glad I Was Born, so I Could Make This”” or “Feeling Responsible for the Future of Children and Not Wanting to Make Halfhearted Films”] and Ponyo (2008) [“On Ponyo” or “Memo on Music for Joe Hisaishi”]. It also included Miyazaki’s Original Drawings for Studio Ghibli New Year’s Cards (1997-2008) as a foreword, a Biographical Chronology and an afterword by Miyazaki.

It is really a fascinating work if you are interested in Japanese animation and a must-read if you are a deep fan of the works of Miyazaki. It offers a huge amount of material that, as I already said, you won’t read in one sitting but it is definitely worth having a look. stars-3-5

For more information you can check the following websites:

[ AmazonGoodreadsGoogleNelliganWikipediaWorldCat ]

© 1996 / 2008 Studio Ghibli

Other recommended titles on Miyazaki:

  • (Collectif sous la direction de Victor Lopez). Hayao Miyazaki : nuances d’une oeuvre. Moutons électriques, 2018. 271 pages. ISBN 9782361835156 [ GoodreadsNelligan ]
  • Animeland Hors-Série (Juillet-Septembre 2021): Studio Ghibli. 144 pages. 12,50 € [ NelliganWebpage ]
  • Miyazaki: numéro spécial de Dada(no 197, janv. 2015, ISSN 1261-4858). Arola, 2015. 50 pages. ISBN 9782358800716. [ GoodreadsNelligan ]
  • ALPERT, Steve.Sharing a House with the Never-Ending Man; 15 years at Studio Ghibli. Berkley: Stone Bridge Press , July 2020. 296 pages. ISBN 9781611720570. [Goodreads]
  • BERTON, Gaël. The Works of Hayao Miyazaki: The Master of Japanese Animation. [Goodreads]
  • CAVALLARO, Dani. The anime art of Hayao Miyazaki. Jefferson NC: McFarland, 2006. 204 pg. ISBN 978-0-7864-2369-9. $35. [Goodreads]
  • CHAPTAL, Stéphanie. Hommage à Hayao Miyazaki : un coeur à l’ouvrage. Ynnis, 2020. 155 pages. ISBN 9782376971313. [ GoodreadsNelligan ]
  • COLSON,Raphaël; RÉGNER, Gaël. Hayao Miyazaki : cartographie d’un univers. Moutons électriques, 2013. 357 pages. ISBN 9782361831356 [ GoodreadsNelligan ]
  • LENBURG, Jeff. Hayao Miyazaki : Japan’s premier anime storyteller. Chelsea House, 2011. 120 pages. ISBN 9781604138412. [ GoodreadsNelligan ]
  • NAPIER, Susan. Miyazaki world : a life in art. Yale University Press, 2020. 305 pages. ISBN 9780300248593. [ GoodreadsNelligan ]
  • NAPIER, Susan. Le monde de Miyazaki. Éditions Imho, 2020. 366 pages. ISBN 9782364810242. [ GoodreadsNelligan ]
  • NIEBEL, Jessica; DOCTER, Pete; KOTHENSCHULTE, Daniel.Hayao Miyazaki. DelMonico Books, 2021. 287 pages. ISBN 9781942884811. [ GoodreadsNelligan]
  • McCARTHY, Helen. Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press, 1999. 240 pg. ISBN 1-880656-41-8. [Goodreads]
[ Traduire ]

The Invisible Library series v. 5-7

The Mortal Word

InvisibleLibrary-5-MortalWord-covIn the latest novel in Genevieve Cogman’s historical fantasy series, the fate of worlds lies in the balance. When a dragon is murdered at a peace conference, time-travelling Librarian spy Irene must solve the case to keep the balance between order, chaos… and the Library.

When Irene returns to London after a relatively straightforward book theft in Germany, Bradamant informs her that there is a top secret dragon-Fae peace conference in progress that the Library is mediating, and that the second-in-command dragon has been stabbed to death. Tasked with solving the case, Vale and Irene immediately go to 1890s Paris to start their investigation.

Once they arrive, they find evidence suggesting that the murder victim might have uncovered proof of treachery by one or more Librarians. But to ensure the peace of the conference, some Librarians are being held as hostages in the dragon and Fae courts. To save the captives, including her parents, Irene must get to the bottom of this murder–but was it a dragon, a Fae, or even a Librarian who committed the crime?” [Text from the publisher’s website ; see also the backcover]

The Invisible Library 5: The Mortal Word, by Genevieve Cogman. New York: ROC (New American Library, imprint of Penguin Random House), November 2018. 448 pages, 8.25 x 5.5 in., $US 17.00, ISBN 9780399587443, For YA readers (14+). stars-3-0

The Secret Chapter

InvisibleLibrary-6-SecretChapter-covTime-travelling, dimension-jumping, Librarian-spy Irene and dragon-prince Kai will have to team up with an unlikely band of misfits to pull off an amazing art heist—or risk the wrath of a dangerous villain with a secret island lair.

A Librarian’s work is never done, and Irene is summoned to the Library. The world where she grew up is in danger of veering deep into chaos, and she needs to obtain a particular book to stop this from happening. Her only choice is to contact a mysterious Fae information-broker and trader of rare objects: Mr. Nemo.

Irene and Kai make their way to Mr. Nemo’s remote Caribbean island and are invited to dinner, which includes unlikely company. Mr. Nemo has an offer for everyone there: he wants them to steal a specific painting from a specific world. But to get their reward, they will have to form a team, including a dragon techie, a Fae thief, a gambler, a driver, and the muscle. Their goal? The Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, in an early twenty-first-century world, where their toughest challenge might be each other.” [Text from the publisher’s website ; see also the backcover]

The Invisible Library 6: The Secret Chapter, by Genevieve Cogman. New York: ROC (New American Library, imprint of Penguin Random House), January 2020. 352 pages, 8.25 x 5.5 in., $US 16.00, ISBN 9781984804761, For YA readers (14+). stars-4-0

The Dark Archive

InvisibleLibrary-7-DarkArchive-covA professional spy for a mysterious Library which harvests fiction from different realities, Irene faces a series of assassination attempts that threaten to destroy her and everything she has worked for.

Irene is teaching her new assistant the fundamentals of a Librarian’s job, and finding that training a young Fae is more difficult than she expected. But when they’re the targets of kidnapping and assassination attempts, she decides that learning by doing is the only option they have left … 

In order to protect themselves, Irene and her friends must do what they do best: search for information to defeat the overwhelming threat they face and identify their unseen enemy. To do that, Irene will have to delve deeper into her own history than she ever has before, face an ancient foe, and uncover secrets that will change her life and the course of the Library forever.”  [Text from the publisher’s website ; see also the backcover]

The Invisible Library 7: The Dark Archive, by Genevieve Cogman. New York: ROC (New American Library, imprint of Penguin Random House), December 2020. 352 pages, 8.25 x 5.5 in., $US 16.00, ISBN 9781984804785, For YA readers (14+). stars-3-5

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

This is a fantasy series by British author Genevieve Cogman about a secret library hidden in-between worlds with doors opening to an infinite variety of parallel dimensions. Its librarians are “stealing” rares books and manuscripts from each of those worlds in order to create a link with them and preserve the balance between order and chaos. The universe is engulfed in an eternal war of influence between the Fae (the agents of chaos) and the dragons (the agents of order). Humans inhabiting those worlds are only pawns in their hands. Such a setting allows for a story that goes beyond the traditional genres of literature, as it both in turn fantasy, science-fiction, mystery or even cyberpunk ! I have commented on the first four volumes last summer.

With a long series like this one you would expect it to become repetitive or even stale after a while, but it is not the case. The author always find ways to bring new captivating intrigues and adventures, whether it is by having the cast of characters protecting a peace conference in “la Belle Époque” Paris against an entire new enemy in book five, or having them to steal a painting in Vienna’s Kunsthistorisches Museum in book six or having to fight not one but three old enemies underneath Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia Basílica all the while having to train a new apprentice in book seven, the stories always feel fresh. With each episode the character are growing and we learn more about their backgrounds (what are the fae? Who are the dragons?), particularly about the mysterious childhood origin of the main character, librarian Irene Winters.

It is easy to read, always captivating and quite well written. I strongly recommend it to everyone who likes adventures and books ! I have also discovered that the 8th book of the series, “The Untold Story”, is coming out on December 28th, 2021 !!! I can’t wait to see where the story is going after the big revelations of the last two books…

For more information you can check the following websites:

[ AmazonGoodreadsGoogleNelliganWikipediaWorldCat ]

© Genevieve Cogman, 2018-2020.

[ Traduire ]

The Invisible Library series vol. 1-4

The Invisible Library

InvisibleLibrary-covOne thing any Librarian will tell you: the truth is much stranger than fiction… 

Irene is a professional spy for the mysterious Library, a shadowy organization that collects important works of fiction from all of the different realities. Most recently, she and her enigmatic assistant Kai have been sent to an alternative London. Their mission: Retrieve a particularly dangerous book. The problem: By the time they arrive, it’s already been stolen. 

London’s underground factions are prepared to fight to the death to find the tome before Irene and Kai do, a problem compounded by the fact that this world is chaos-infested—the laws of nature bent to allow supernatural creatures and unpredictable magic to run rampant. To make matters worse, Kai is hiding something—secrets that could be just as volatile as the chaos-filled world itself.

Now Irene is caught in a puzzling web of deadly danger, conflicting clues, and sinister secret societies. And failure is not an option—because it isn’t just Irene’s reputation at stake, it’s the nature of reality itself…” [Text from the publisher’s website ; see also the backcover]

The Invisible Library, by Genevieve Cogman. New York: ROC (New American Library, imprint of Penguin Random House), June 2016. 344 pages, 8.25 x 5.375 in., $US 17.00, ISBN 9781101988640, For YA readers (12+).stars-3-5

The Masked City

InvisibleLibrary-MaskedCity-covThe written word is mightier than the sword—most of the time… 

Working in an alternate version of Victorian London, Librarian-spy Irene has settled into a routine, collecting important fiction for the mysterious Library and blending in nicely with the local culture. But when her apprentice, Kai—a dragon of royal descent—is kidnapped by the Fae, her carefully crafted undercover operation begins to crumble.

Kai’s abduction could incite a conflict between the forces of chaos and order that would devastate all worlds and all dimensions. To keep humanity from getting caught in the crossfire, Irene will have to team up with a local Fae leader to travel deep into a version of Venice filled with dark magic, strange coincidences, and a perpetual celebration of Carnival—and save her friend before he becomes the first casualty of a catastrophic war.

But navigating the tumultuous landscape of Fae politics will take more than Irene’s book-smarts and fast-talking—to ward off Armageddon, she might have to sacrifice everything she holds dear….” [Text from the publisher’s website ; see also the backcover]

The Invisible Library 2: The Masked City, by Genevieve Cogman. New York: ROC (New American Library, imprint of Penguin Random House), September 2016. 374 pages, 8.25 x 5.375 in., $US 17.00, ISBN 9781101988664, For YA readers (12+). stars-3-0

The Burning Page

InvisibleLibrary-BurningPage-covNever judge a book by its cover…

Due to her involvement in an unfortunate set of mishaps between the dragons and the Fae, Librarian spy Irene is stuck on probation, doing what should be simple fetch-and-retrieve projects for the mysterious Library. But trouble has a tendency to find both Irene and her apprentice, Kai—a dragon prince—and, before they know it, they are entangled in more danger than they can handle…

 Irene’s longtime nemesis, Alberich, has once again been making waves across multiple worlds, and, this time, his goals are much larger than obtaining a single book or wreaking vengeance upon a single Librarian. He aims to destroy the entire Library—and make sure Irene goes down with it.

 With so much at stake, Irene will need every tool at her disposal to stay alive. But even as she draws her allies close around her, the greatest danger might be lurking from somewhere close—someone she never expected to betray her…  [Text from the publisher’s website ; see also the backcover]

The Invisible Library 3: The Burning Page, by Genevieve Cogman. New York: ROC (New American Library, imprint of Penguin Random House), January 2017. 358 pages, 8.25 x 5.375 in., $US 17.00, ISBN 9781101988688, For YA readers (12+). stars-3-0

The Lost Plot

InvisibleLibrary-LostPlot-covAfter being commissioned to find a rare book, Librarian Irene and her assistant, Kai, head to Prohibition-era New York and are thrust into the middle of a political fight with dragons, mobsters, and Fae in this novel in the Invisible Library series.

In a 1920s-esque New York, Prohibition is in force; fedoras, flapper dresses, and tommy guns are in fashion: and intrigue is afoot. Intrepid Librarians Irene and Kai find themselves caught in the middle of a dragon political contest. It seems a young Librarian has become tangled in this conflict, and if they can’t extricate him, there could be serious repercussions for the mysterious Library. And, as the balance of power across mighty factions hangs in the balance, this could even trigger war.

Irene and Kai are locked in a race against time (and dragons) to procure a rare book. They’ll face gangsters, blackmail, and the Library’s own Internal Affairs department. And if it doesn’t end well, it could have dire consequences on Irene’s job. And, incidentally, on her life…” [Text from the publisher’s website ; see also the backcover]

The Invisible Library 4: The Lost Plot, by Genevieve Cogman. New York: ROC (New American Library, imprint of Penguin Random House), January 2018. 370 pages, 8.25 x 5.375 in., $US 17.00, ISBN 9780399587429, For YA readers (12+). stars-4-0

>> Please, read the warning for possible spoilers <<

This is a fantasy series by British author Genevieve Cogman. The idea of librarians going on Indiana Jones-style missions in parallel worlds to find rare manuscripts and preserve the balance between order and chaos might not seems particularly original (there are plenty of stories which have librarians as protagonists), but what I really like about it is that it makes it possible to create hybrid worlds that mix the genres — in this case magical, supernatural and steampunk! I find it very entertaining and enjoyable to read … There is nothing better than getting lost in a world of fictitious adventures to forget our own problems and relax (and nothing better to forget a library than to read a story of an… invisible library!)

I particularly enjoyed this story because I am myself working in a library and I know a thing or two about the struggle to maintain the equilibrium between order and chaos. And, I am sorry to say, right now in my library, chaos is definitely winning. I also have a strong opinion about the role of libraries in our society. An ideal library would be a temple to knowledge and culture. A place that not only preserves it (a library) but also disseminates it with exhibition and conference rooms as well as places to give workshops of all kinds. Exactly like what Hadrianus intended when he created the Athenaeum in Rome. It is a serious place. Unfortunately, today they tend more to become daycare and playgrounds…

However, I didn’t realize that was such a long series. So far I’ve read half of it (four volumes and there is an eighth volume announced for the end of 2021) and I am not disappointed. It is well written, captivating (you can’t stop reading because you are wondering what will happen next) and, even if, like I said, it is not particularly original, it is an enjoyable distraction from reality.  

The first volume introduces us to the world of the Library and to Irene Winters, a junior librarian with a tendency to get in trouble. We also meet Kai Strongrock, her apprentice, who seems to have peculiar qualities. In the center of everything lies the mysterious Library which is linked to an infinity of alternate earths (each offering a different timeline) from which the Library collects rare books in order to maintain the link to their world of origin and keep the balance between chaos and order. The agents of Chaos are the Fae, influencers who like intrigues and narratives where they are the heroes. The agents of Order are the dragons, who are secretive and can control natural spirits. Both hate each others. The Library is neutral. In her latest assignment, Irene is sent to the Victorian London of world B-395 in order to find an original Grimm manuscript with an extra story. She must compete with a powerful fae, Lord Silver, and Alberich, an evil librarian who was expelled! Fortunately, she finds an ally in Peregrine Vale, a Sherlock Holmes doppelgänger. 

In the second volume, Kai is kidnapped by Lord Guantes, a powerful fae, and brought to an alternate Venice in an highly chaotic world! Against orders, and with the help of Lord Silver, Irene has to manage to reach this world, navigate the complex politics of the fae, find and rescue Kai and return alive! Quite a challenge!

The third book could be called Alberich strikes back. He manages to find Irene and threaten to — nothing less but — destroy the Library. And Irene has to save the world all over again on her own.

In the fourth volume, Irene gets herself caught, this time, in the politics of dragons. Two dragons compete for a high office and in order to win they have to find a rare book. They try to get help from a librarian and, by doing so, threaten the fragile neutrality of the Library. Of course, Irene is sent to a world with a 20s New York in order to save the day. It is the story with the most complex plot so far and my favourite.

The series is classified as fantasy but when you have such a mix of genres it is difficult to keep labels. You do find a lot of magic in it, with vampires and werewolves and dragons, but — considering the steampunk aspects, the space-time nature of the Library and the rationalisation of magic through the Language of the Library — I think it should be seen more as science-fiction. However, whatever label we want to give it, it remains an interesting story that provide a very entertaining and enjoyable experience. It was probably meant to be an Harry Potter look-alike and therefore it targets more or less the Young Adults audience, so it is quite an easy reading. Overall it is a very good book that you will certainly enjoy if you like that type of fantasy/scifi stories.

For more information you can check the following websites:

[ AmazonGoodreadsGoogleNelliganWikipediaWorldCat ]

© Genevieve Cogman, 2016-17.

[ Traduire ]

cogitationes me [002.021.114]

Pensée du jour (Pour moi-même)

V. Un jardin de livres

L’autre jour, sur FB, je suis tombé sur cette citation populaire de Marcus Tullius Cicero: “Si vous possédez une bibliothèque et un jardin, vous avez tout ce qu’il vous faut.” Je suis bien d’accord mais le texte est encore plus intéressant si on le remet dans son contexte. D’abord, cette traduction est inexacte quoiqu’elle rend bien l’esprit de la citation. Le texte original est “si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil” et cela se traduirait littéralement plutôt par “Si vous avez un jardin dans votre bibliothèque, tout sera complet” (ou, selon le traducteur, “vous ne manquerez de rien”, “vous avez tout”, “rien n’échouera”). Certains ont également interprété la citation dans le sens “si vous avez une bibliothèque donnant sur un jardin” ou “avec vue sur le jardin.”

Cette citation de Cicéron provient de ses Epistulae ad Familiares [Lettres aux amis] 9.4. À cette époque, il s’est retiré dans sa villa de Tusculum et tente de se faire oublié car Rome est en pleine guerre civile, alors que le dictateur Julius Caesar viens de vaincre Pompeius, le dernier de ses alliés du premier triumvirat, à Pharsale. En juin 708 AUC (46 AEC), Cicéron écrit à son ami Varron pour l’inviter à venir le visiter. Dans son contexte plus large le texte se lit ainsi: Quapropter, si venturus es, scito necesse esse te venire; (…) Sed de his etiam rebus, otiosi cum erimus, loquemur; (…) Tu si minus ad nos, nos accurremus ad te: si hortum in bibliotheca habes, deerit nihil. C’est à dire [selon Itinera Electronica], ”S’il est vrai que vous deviez venir, c’est qu’il est dans l’ordre des choses nécessaires que vous veniez : si au contraire je ne vous vois point, c’est que votre venue se trouve en dehors des choses nécessaires. (…) Mais nous causerons de tout cela quand nous n’aurons rien de mieux à faire (…). Si vous ne vous hâtez, je cours auprès de vous, soyez-en sûr; et pour peu que vous ayez un jardin près de vos livres, nous n’aurons rien à désirer.“

Peu importe comment on traduit cette citation un peu obscure provenant d’une lettre tarabiscotée de Cicéron (et, comme Jean-François Géraud, nous pourrions en disserter longuement en nous étendant sur le rôle des jardins et des bibliothèques dans l’otium romain) c’est surtout la conjonction même des idées de bibliothèque et de jardin — deux lieux de calmes, propices à la réflexion — qui est intéressant. Étant donné que hortus fait surtout référence à un jardin potager (où l’on cultive des légumes, fruits, fines herbes et plantes aromatiques pour sa consommation personnelle) et qu’une bibliothèque est un lieu où l’on conserve, protège et diffuse le Savoir, nous pouvons affirmer que l’un nourrit le corps alors que l’autre nourrit l’esprit. L’un et l’autre sont même interchangeable, car dans un jardin on peut préserver et exprimer un ensemble de connaissances botaniques et horticoles, chaque variété et espèce étant bien alignée en rangées comme des livres sur une étagère. De même, une bibliothèque est vivante car régulièrement nous y ajoutons de nouvelles pousses et élaguons les éléments qui n’ont plus d’utilité, mettant de l’avant les sujets populaires du jour ou de la saison. Ce n’est pas par hasard que l’on retrouve de plus en plus de plantes (souvent disposées dans un atrium) dans les bibliothèques modernes. Dans un cas comme dans l’autre, c’est un lieu à la fois relaxant et stimulant. Ce n’est donc pas surprenant que Cicéron ait considéré cette conjonction comme l’endroit idéal pour une discussion politique ou philosophique entre amis.

Je trouve mon contentement car, moi aussi, je possède les deux. Que pourrais-je demander de plus?


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Quelques lectures à venir

J’ai récemment fait la découverte de quelques titres que je vais m’empresser de me procurer à la bibliothèque afin de les lire (et possiblement commenter) le plus rapidement possible.

Kebek-2-covD’abord, j’ai découvert que le tome deux de Kébek par Philippe Gauckler allait finalement paraître le 14 janvier 2021. J’ai déjà commenté le premier tome et j’ignore si l’histoire se terminera avec le deuxième ou si elle nécessitera un troisième (ce qui aiderait à ne pas trop précipiter le récit). Le titre de ce deuxième tome sera “Adamante” mais aucun descriptif n’est disponible pour l’instant. J’espère qu’il ne tardera pas trop à traverser l’Atlantique car j’ai très hâte de le lire…

Kebek: t. 2: Adamante, par Philippe Gauckler. Ed. Daniel Maghen, 96 pages. 19,00 € / $C 39.95. ISBN 978-2-35674-084-7. À paraître le 14 janvier 2021. [ Google ]

Je viens à peine de finalement mettre la main sur le volume six de Isabella Bird que je découvre que le sept est déjà paru en Europe depuis le début décembre ! Celui-là va certainement prendre quelques mois avant de nous parvenir…

J’attend également avec impatience le Pline #9: L’Opium d’Andromaque, qui est paru fin Octobre, et qui devrait atteindre nos rivages d’ici la mi-janvier (selon Les Libraires) — en espérant qu’il n’y ai pas trop de délais avant qu’il soit disponible en bibliothèque…

J’aimerais bien aussi lire le Cesare #13. L’auteur avait fait une longue pause en 2014 et avait reprit la production en 2018 pour le volume 12 (paru en France en janvier 2020 et déjà commenté). Fuyumi Soryo a par la suite remit le manga sur pause à nouveau… et aurait reprit le travail à l’automne 2019 mais le volume treize n’est toujours pas paru…

Bambi-covJ’ai récemment découvert que l’histoire originale de Bambi a été republiée avec des illustrations du célèbre dessinateur de livre pour enfants Benjamin Lacombe. Considéré comme un conte pour enfant (9 à 12 ans) à cause du film de Disney ce livre est actuellement un roman animalier pour adulte écrit par Félix Salten, un auteur autrichien, en 1923 mais qui “fut interdit et brûlé par les nazis qui y décelaient “une allégorie politique sur le traitement des juifs en Europe”. Les éléments symboliques sont nombreux tout en restant discrets (…)” [Paris-Match #3733, p. 33]. Je suis donc curieux de revisiter cette histoire…

Bambi, par Félix Salten, illustré par Benjamin Lacombe. Paris: Albin Michel, novembre 2020. 176 pgs. 22.7 x 30.7 cm, 29.90 € / $C 44.95. ISBN 9782226450210. [ AmazonGoogleBeDethèqueGoodreadsWorldCat ]

Les superbes adaptions de Lovecraft par Gou Watanabe se poursuivent chez Ki-oon avec L’Appel de Cthulhu (qui est paru en Septembre, cette fois avec une couverture rouge). Je l’ai réservé à la bibliothèque et m’y attèlerai dès que je le reçois ! Mais cela ne s’arrête pas là, puisque Ki-oon annonce déjà Celui qui hantait les ténèbres pour mars 2021 (avec une couverture verte) !

J’attend toujours aussi Olympia Kyklos par Mari Yamazaki (Casterman, vol. 1/4, 15,95 $, 200 pages, ISBN 9782203202986) qui devait paraître en juin 2020 mais qui semble avoir été retardé à cause de la COVID et paraîtra plutôt en mars 2021. C’est une comédie du style de Thermae Romae mais avec des grecs. [ MangaNewsGoogleAmazon ]

Même si j’ai été plutôt déçu par le premier volume de Ad Romam (commenté récemment), j’ai tout de même l’intention de lire le tome deux que j’ai déjà réservé à la bibliothèque… Par simple curiosité…

J’ai déjà sur ma table de chevet Aliss de Patrick Sénécal / Jerk Dion publié chez Alire (en collaboration avec Studio Lounak). Mais cela m’apparait un peu heavy donc je vais probablement attendre un peu avoir de le lire…

J’ai aussi réservé pour ma femme à la bibliothèque la BD biographique Les Étoiles de l’Histoire t.3: Brigitte Bardot (Dupuis, mai 2020, 136 pages, ISBN 9791034749133, 12+). Comme BB était l’une des idoles de mon adolescence (je me demande bien pourquoi) je vais probablement en profiter pour la lire aussi…

Voici encore quelques titres que j’ai l’intention de lire dans les prochains mois (dès que disponibles):

DernierEnvolDuPapillon-COvEt j’en passe… Il y a plusieurs titre en cours / en attente de lecture sur ma table de chevet (Justine par Laurence Durrell, La lanterne de Nyx vol. 1-2 par Kan Takahama, Le dernier envol du papillon aussi par Kan Takahama, The Hound and other stories par Gou Tanabe chez Dark Horse ainsi que plusieurs périodiques — Solaris, dBD, Animeland) et plusieurs autres déjà lus qui attendent d’être commenté (Histoires Courtes d’Aoi Makino, Les frères Karamazov chez Kuro-Savoir, Les fleurs de la Mer Égée par Akame Hinoshita, Isabella Bird #6, Mariko Parade par Boilet et Takahama, Terre Errante par Liu Cixin — tiens, un roman!, La librairie de tous les possibles par Shinsuke Yoshitake, Tokyo, amour et libertés par Kan Takahama, et Nos compagnons par Jiro Taniguchi).

Cela me fera beaucoup de lectures et beaucoup de pain sur la planche! Il va me falloir essayer de regarder moins de télé, ce qui sera sans doute difficile car beaucoup de nouvelles séries intéressantes devraient se pointer en 2021. Sur ce sujet d’ailleurs j’ai aussi découvert que l’une de mes série anime fétiche, Kimagure Orange Road, est maintenant disponible sur RetroCrush ! J’ai aussi débuté le visionnement de la cinquième saison de la sublime série The Expense ainsi que de la nouvelle série Raised by Wolves — dont le sujet est une guerre de religion entre les Athées et les adeptes de Mithra qui se poursuit sur une planète désolée après que les derniers survivants de l’humanité y ait trouvé refuge. Pour épargner la sensibilité des croyants, il semble que le récit ait été placé dans le futur d’un monde alternatif où le culte de Mithra a prédominé sur les autres (dans NOTRE réalité il a éventuellement été absorbé par le culte de Sol Invictus au IIIe siècle avant d’être définitivement supplanté par le christianisme au IVe siècle mais a en quelque sorte survécu à travers le manichéisme et le zoroastrisme). 

Aussi Doctor Who (série 13) devrait reprendre le 1er janvier, A Discovery of Witches (S2) le 9 janvier, Real Time with Bill Maher (S19) le 15 janvier, Batwoman (S2) le 17 janvier, Euphoria (spécial #2) le 24 janvier, For All mankind (S2) le 19 février, When calls the Heart le 21 février, The Walking Dead (S10) le 28 février, sans compter le film Dune annoncé pour le 1er octobre, The Mandalorian (S3) pour le 25 décembre, un quatrième film de The Matrix (pour décembre également) ou encore les séries télé de Foundation, Lords of the rings, McMafia (S2), His Dark Materials (S3), Gentleman Jack (S2), Star Trek Discovery (S4), Outlander (S6), Westworld (S4), Call the Midwife (S10), Lost in Space (S3), The Morning Show (S2), Carnival Row (S2), Emily in Paris (S2), Star Trek: Picard (S2), un remake de Shōgun (!) et les multiples spin-off de Star Wars qui n’ont pas encore de dates annoncées! Wow! Où vais-je trouver le temps de lire ?

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Les bibliothèques de Montréal sont rendu folles ! Faire passer de la section adultes à la section enfants des titres de manga comme Nausicaa ou Bride Stories ! Ça n’a aucun sens.

Nausicaa07Nausicaa offre une histoire mystico-politique vraiment trop complexe (que j’ai moi-même eu de la difficulté à suivre!), des thèmes matures (religion, guerre), de la violence, un graphisme plutôt chargé pour être vraiment compris et apprécié par des enfants. D’ailleurs, les spécialistes le considère comme un manga seinen. Bon, je comprend que l’éditeur français, Glénat, classe lui-même ce manga dans sa collection “Univers Kids” (Kodomo?) [quoi que l’éditeur américain, Viz, le classe comme “Teen”] et que l’anime était “ben cute” mais quand même!

BrideStories10Quant à Bride Stories on y retrouve des thèmes matures et de la nudité ! C’est un manga considéré seinen (donc généralement pour les jeunes hommes de 15 à 30 ans), même par l’éditeur, Ki-oon, quoique certains spécialistes le classe pour 14 ans et plus! Il y a-t-il quelqu’un du réseau des bibliothèques, un bibliothécaire par exemple, qui va se décider à regarder la définition de seinen dans le dictionnaire ?!

Un compromis acceptable aurait été au moins de les mettre dans la section ados… mais qui suis-je pour m’en plaindre. Je n’ai fait que publier un magazine sur la culture populaire japonaise (animé & manga) pendant une vingtaine d’années… Je n’y connaît donc rien en comparaison de bibliothécaires qui viennent de sortir, tout verts, de l’université! Bande d’ignares!

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Ex-Libris: The New York Public Library

Ex-libris-dvd“Frederick Wiseman’s film, Ex Libris – The New York Public Library, goes behind the scenes of one of the greatest knowledge institutions in the world and reveals it as a place of welcome, cultural exchange and learning. With 92 branches throughout Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, the library is a resource for all the inhabitants of this multifaceted and cosmopolitan city, and beyond. The New York Public Library exemplifies the deeply rooted American belief in the individual’s right to know and be informed. It is one of the most democratic institutions in America – everyone is welcome. The Library strives to inspire learning, advance knowledge and strengthen communities.”

Earlier this week I stumble upon this enormous documentary on PBS. If you are into books and libraries, you’ll just love this movie that gives us an extensive tour of the New York Library and demonstrates how dedicated and welcoming the staff of its 92 branches are, what are the challenges they face in order to keep up with the demands and needs of their patrons, and particularly how important libraries can be to foster the diffusion of culture & knowledge as well as artistic creativity. It’s certainly one of the best examples of what an ideal library should be (as I recently discussed).

It is amazing how our local libraries look insignificant and puny in comparison of the behemoth collection and the huge diversity of services offered by the New York Public Library… With 53 millions documents, it is the second largest public library in the U.S. (third largest in the world after the British Library and the Library of Congress). Surprisingly, despite its name, it is a private, non-profit library, but it’s using public/private partnership (and funding) to work in collaboration with local governments (city, state, federal) in providing a large array of services… It is quite interesting (and serendipitous) that, with our imminent provincial elections, a librarian and teacher at the U de M Library Science School has been very recently questioning the commitment of the government in regards of libraries. Will the government create a strategic plan for the development of libraries (like the PLA recently did) ? It is direly needed at a time when the usefulness of libraries (and even our society’s fundamental concepts of knowledge and truth) are being challenged  (NYT, The Guardian) !

Of course, for such an enormous documentary, the reception has been rather mixed (with a critical response at 97%, but with only a 61% audience score, on Rotten Tomatoes) with reviews going from bad (Globe & Mail), to good (Variety) to excellent (The Guardian).

For me it was very interesting to watch and compare (seeing the similarities and differences) our library work here, in relatively small municipal library branches, to what’s done in NYC. However, even with the mastery of legendary documentarist Frederick Wiseman, I do think that 3h17 is really too long for any documentary to keep the attention of the viewers (at least in one sitting)! Many sequences are unnecessarily long. Also someone can get easily annoyed by Wiseman’s “no-comment” documentary style where he just show the scene as it happens without much editing or information (like not telling us who is talking!). In the end, despite those faults, this documentary is definitely worth watching for anyone (with spare time) who’s interested in the realm of books and libraries.

Ex Libris – The New York Public Library : USA, 2017, 197 mins; Dir./Ed./Sound/Prod.: Frederick Wiseman; Phot.: John Davey; Exec. Prod.: Karen Konicek; Cast: Ta-Nehisi Coates, Elvis Costello, Richard Dawkins and the very dedicated staff of all NYL branches. The DVD will be available soon from the producing company, PBS or Amazon (UK / FR). It can also be streamed online (legally?)… stars-3-0

[ IMDbOfficialPBSWikipediaYoutube ]

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Suggestion list of adult manga

At the library where I work we have a small to medium size collection of manga but only in French (very few in English). That’s to be expected since one of the mandates of our library is to foster the learning of French among the city’s (or the province’s) new-comer population. However, since the population we are serving is in majority anglophone, one of the librarians thought that it would be nice to develop a little more our nearly inexistant English manga collection. I am offering a few suggestions…

Most of the manga publishers target their releases toward kids and teenagers (kodomo, shōnen, shōjo) and just a few publishers put out manga really aimed at adults (seinen, josei, gekiga) — and I am not talking here about manga of sensual or erotic nature (LadiComi, yaoi, yuri, etc.).

The more traditional manga are translated and distributed by publishers like:

while the more serious and alternative titles (and unfortunately often less popular) comes from publishers like:

For this list, I avoided titles that we already had in our collection in French and — considering that we already had a few gekiga in French, that seinen or josei are also often targeted at teenagers, and that I think we should support local publishers like Drawn & Quarterly — I tried instead to favour more classical or serious manga (hence a selection of mostly gekiga, including mangaka in the likes of Shigeru Mizuki, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Osamu Tezuka, or the more recent Jiro Taniguchi). I am indicating in the list if a title is already available in the Montreal Libraries’s network (even if it is only in French or only in one library).

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Bibliothèque idéale

Je crois que les bibliothèques devraient être un peu comme l’Athenaeum (du Grec Athēnaion, un temple à la déesse de la sagesse Athéna) que Hadrien avait fait construire à Rome près du Capitole pour en faire une sorte d’université. Ainsi, ma bibliothèque idéale serait un temple à la connaissance, à la culture, au savoir. Un lieu qui non seulement la préserve (une bibliothèque) mais aussi la diffuse avec des salles d’expositions et de conférences ainsi que des lieux pour donner des ateliers en tous genres. Toutefois toute nouvelle vocation de la bibliothèque ne doit RIEN enlever à l’ancienne. Oui à avoir des aires où les gens peuvent participer, échanger, discuter, manger, jouer, etc., mais il faut aussi conserver des espaces où les gens peuvent lire et étudier en toute quiétude…

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