Iconic books are texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight. In religious and secular rituals around the globe, people carry, show, wave, touch and kiss books and other texts, as well as read them. This blog chronicles such events and activities. (For more about iconic books, see the links to the Iconic Books Project at left.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Book Patrol: The Chinese Book Burner and the Great Wall of Books

Michael Lieberman on Book Patrol:

Qin Shi Huang, is one of the most notorious and prolific book burners in history. During his reign from 221 BC - 210 BC, Qin Shi Huang outlawed Confucianism and ordered the burning of pretty much all the books that came before him including the classic works of the Hundred Schools of Thought. It is also believed that he buried alive many of the scholars of the day. All in his quest to unite China.

This the same guy who built the Great Wall.

Jorge Luis Borges wrote an essay on Qin Shi Huang, 'The Wall and the Books' (La muralla y los libros) which appeared in the collection Other Inquisitions (Otras Inquisiciones), where he muses on these two grand feats.

The contemporary art company WELL has taken the Borges essay a bit further with their Great Wall of Books project - "a unique contemporary art project, simultaneously: public sculpture, interactive installation, outdoor performance, exhibition space and a point of creative departure for invited artists and communities. Literally a gigantic book, 5 metres tall and opening out to over 11 metres wide, it is a vessel that both generates and stores written, aural and visual stories." The project launched in 2007 with a 4 month stint in Macao, China and spent January of this year in Melbourne, Australia.

This has been the third installment in Book Patrol's new series Life of Google, featuring images from the vast archives of Life magazine that now appear on Google.

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