October 11, 2007

A Reference Book and a Novel

If we're not limiting the selection to exclude reference books, I would choose to save a dictionary. The obvious choice would be The Oxford English Dictionary, but because it's so immense and takes up so many volumes, I suppose that would be too much to ask. So then my second choice would be the New Oxford American Dictionary, because it seems to be the most complete single-volume dictionary on the market at the moment. Ultimately, I find dictionaries to be among the most valuable of all items in life.

If we are excluding reference books, I suppose I would save Herbert Rosendorfer's 1969 novel, translated into English as The Architect of Ruins (German original title: Der Ruinenbaumeister). It's a spectacular work of surrealistic imagination, and it actually has a bit of similarity to this exercise, although from a different angle. Rather than memorizing books in anticipation of their destruction, people find themselves in an enormous cigar-shaped underground Armageddon shelter, and one of the main activities they engage in is reconstructing a library, based on their collective memory--without having planned for it.

Chosen by
Louis J. Cassorla
Newport, NH

This response was contributed through NH Public Radio.

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