The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives

The Order of Books

A slim book that provides a theoretically grounded discussion of the role of readers, authors, and libraries (i.e., bibliothèque in the broadest sense). The first two chapters lean heavily on de Certeau, Bourdieu, Foucault, and D.F. McKenzie (whose Bibliography and the Sociology of Texts is one of the better short books in the field and should be more readily available at a reasonable price), with the expected focal points – praxis, distinction/social capital, discipline/authority, and (natch) the sociology of texts/readers/authors. The final chapter examines various historical library catalogues/bibliographies (real or imagined), weaving in the theoretical threads untangled in the previous two chapters. A book interested in limning the limits of the knowable – or perhaps, better, the limits of what can be catalogued, classified, codified, and contained.

The sort of book that would be an admirable introduction, but if one is already familiar with the ideas from elsewhere, it does not shed significantly new light on them – although its syntheses can be moderately illuminating.


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