- New Castle, Delaware and Boston, Massachusetts: Oak Knoll Press and the Boston Athenæum, 2008.
- 6 x 9 inches
- Hardcover, dust jacket
- 376 pages
- ISBN: 9781584562306
Price: $49.95 other currencies
Order Nr. 96668
First edition. In this new collection of essays, many published here for the first time, the author of the warmly reviewed Scholar-Librarian leads a series of further explorations into the world of books, libraries and the visual arts. In his extended title essay, Richard Wendorf provides a groundbreaking investigation of the relationship between the theoretical texts devoted to collecting and the rich fictional texts that also take collecting as their focus: not just John Fowles's The Collector, but also Susan Sontag's The Volcano Lover, Evan Connell's The Connoisseur, Tibor Fischer's The Collector Collector, Bruce Chatwin's Utz, and Ian McEwan's early short story "Solid Geometry." Wendorf shows how the critical arguments posed by Benjamin, Baudrillard, Muensterberger and others play out in these modern literary texts and how, in turn, these fictional works complicate the ways in which we think about what it means to be a collector.
Wendorf devotes two chapters to library history: a bicentennial essay on the Boston Athenæum and an investigation of the origins of America's membership libraries in England and its colonies in the eighteenth century. Returning to the painter Sir Joshua Reynolds, the focus of much of his scholarly work, Wendorf includes four essays, two of which provide fresh assessments of Reynolds's career, while the other two document his relationships within the blue-stocking world of Elizabeth Montagu, Hester Thrale Piozzi and his sister Frances Reynolds. And in a tour de force near the end of this volume ("Deconstructing Athena - and Me"), Wendorf writes about what it is like to serve not just as the scholarly interpreter of portraiture but as the photographic subject of it as well.
Richard Wendorf is the Stanford Calderwood Director and Librarian of the Boston Athenæum, which he has helped shepherd through a historic renovation and expansion project as well as its 2007 bicentennial. He was previously the Librarian (director) of Harvard's Houghton Library and, before that, Professor of English and Art History at Northwestern University, where he also served as the undergraduate academic dean. His publications include the award-winning Sir Joshua Reynolds: The Painter in Society (Harvard) and After Sir Joshua: Essays on British Art and Cultural History (Yale). This represents his third book with Oak Knoll Press; its companions are The Scholar-Librarian (2005) and America's Membership Libraries (2007). Co-published with the Boston Athenæum.