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  • Harry Fane

I loved this book...but it's a terrible story

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

And I liked this extract from early in the story:

To collect is to create. Collectors do not so much arrange or even possess objects as transform them. In a collection, each object becomes an artefact, something entirely different from what it was before, and an object’s meaning changes when it finds a new home in a new place among other objects and in the possession of a person who desires it. Its value shifts, and so does its context. It is no longer just a ‘thing’: it is a metaphor, a material embodiment of something important to the collector – a childhood memory, perhaps, or, as is often the case, a particular chapter of history that the collector wishes to restore. Few understood this better than Walter Benjamin, an impassioned collector of books. ‘The most profound enchantment for the collector’, he wrote in a 1931 essay, ‘is the locking of individual items within a magic circle in which they are fixed as the final thrill, the thrill of acquisition, passes over them’. In the lines that followed, he even compared an object’s acquisition to its ‘rebirth’. Yet what collectors create is not merely the ‘magic circle’ of transformed, reborn objects that Benjamin describes. What collectors create are themselves.

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