mercoledì 2 luglio 2008

Umberto Eco, morcegos e vermes dos livros

On a visit to Toronto last week, the Italian novelist, academic, translator and polymath was remembering a recent visit to the aged library at Coimbra in Portugal.
"Spread out on the tables they had green towels, as for billiards",
Eco was saying. "I asked why: They said it was to protect the furniture from the shit of the bats. They have bats; the ceiling is full of bats. During the day they sleep; during the night they shit.
"So I asked, why don't you get rid of the bats? But you see, the bats eat the bookworms that would otherwise damage the books. For 400 years the bats have been protecting the books". Matters of book protection are of more than anecdotal interest to Eco: His personal library, shared out between apartments in Bologna and Milan and a country house, numbers nearly 40,000 volumes. "I have to suspect that somewhere I have worms", he says. So far, though, he hasn't resorted to bats. "You know you can also use a big, old-fashioned alarm clock", he says. "You keep it on your shelf: It seems the tick-tock noise disturbs the worms so they will remain safely in the wood."
ASK UMBERTO, by Stephen Smith

Nessun commento: