The Human Library

In Stoppard’s Arcadia, a young girl asks her tutor how he can bear the thought of the destruction of the library at Alexandria. He consoles her by saying that everything always returns in one form or another. Once we’ve read a book its contents become part of us in the same way our own experience does. We live hundreds and hundreds of lives, time traveling, leaving our planet, leaving behind our gender and our attitudes. My answer to Thomasina, the ardent student in Stoppard’s play, is that we bear it because of all that was left behind: the plays of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. The few shards of Sappho we have. And because the human library keeps growing. 2018 brought us amazing books. 2019 will as well. We can carry huge libraries on our e-readers, and our books can be stored in clouds.

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