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.)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Three Faiths at NYPL

First there was Torah, Bible, Coran: Livres de parole at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in 2005, then Sacred at the British Library in 2007. Now there is Three Faiths: Judaism, Christianity, Islam at the New York Public Library. This series of exhibits comparing amazing manuscripts and printed books from each of the three Western religions represents a concerted effort to demonstrate what they have in common. "These exhibitions have a distinctive post-9/11 cast," observes Edward Rothstein in the New York Times.

The British exhibition even had the subtitle “Discover What We Share.” And
in New York, too, the emphasis throughout is on commonality. At this historical
moment, this is meant to defend Islam against anticipated accusations.
But the exhibits and, especially, their online promotions linked above also demonstrate how libraries are using electronic media to publicize their treasures. In New York, images from the exhibit will even be projected on the side of a Fifth Avenue building . These electronic texts, far from obscuring the physical books, celebrate and revel in them. They broadcast their iconic, even monumental, status and draw crowds to see the material objects themselves.

No comments: