Friday, February 08, 2008

I see dead people's books...

So the good folks at LibraryThing have been recreating the libraries of various famous dead people, which just leads to all kinds of interesting things. It started with Thomas Jefferson's library, and then when Karen Schneider asked why there weren't more women included (go Karen!), an effort was made to add the libraries of several notable women. My favorite, and the reason I'm blogging it now, is Sylvia Plath's library -- some of which I've seen and touched with my own hands, since one of the major Plath repositories is the Lilly Library right here on the IU campus. I worked there for one summer as an undergrad, and sneaked a peek at some of the volumes from Plath's library when I was supposed to be shelving other books -- looking at her own marginal annotations and comparing them to the English-major notes I found myself making in my own books.

If you have a LibraryThing account, you can easily compare your library with Plath's and see how many books you have in common (I have ten). Also, the good people who added Plath's books to LibraryThing have included notes from the catalogs of the libraries that own the books, some of which are really fascinating -- like the following notes regarding her copy of The Art of Loving by Erich Fromm:
Copy is heavily underlined and marked by Sylvia Plath; bookseller's label: Foyles, London; autograph: Sylvia Plath, Court Green, November 9, 1962.

p. 19, 30, 37, 97 (Sept. '63)"- note in Assia Wevill's hand below Plath's autograph.
Or this, regarding her copy of The Collected Poetry of W.H. Auden:
Inscribed on fly-leaf: “I found my god in W.H. Auden”. With bookplate. Underlining and annotation, very heavy in the last sections.
I *heart* LibraryThing!


Karen J. Weyant said...

I love Library Thing!

But (to my surprise) I don't share any books with Sylvia Plath.

Peter K Steinberg said...


I cataloged the books into LibraryThing and I am so pleased to know how much you enjoy seeing Plath's library on the site.


Anne said...

Karen: LT is addictive, isn't it? :)

Peter: Oh, cool! I've definitely gotten a kick out of it. Thanks for stopping by!