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.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thousands of rare books go up in flames in Cairo

Huffington Post has reported today that the "Institute d'Egypte, a research center set up by Napoleon Bonaparte during France's invasion in the late 18th century, caught fire during clashes between protesters and Egypt's military over the weekend. It was home to a treasure trove of writings, most notably the handwritten 24-volume Description de l'Egypte, which began during the 1798-1801 French occupation."

Thousands of volumes have been damaged, and many are burned beyond recovery. "This is equal to the burning of Galileo's books," Zein Abdel-Hady, who runs the country's main library, said.

The full Huffington Post article can be accessed here.

1 comment:

Jim Watts said...

Al'Ahram's report emphasizes that some of the protestors tried to save the collection: "Young revolutionaries rushed into the institute – which is located next to the Cabinet building, the site of ongoing clashes between security personnel and anti-government protesters – as soon as the fire erupted in hopes of rescuing the thousands original manuscripts housed there. Nearly 30,000 books were rescued out of a total of around 196,000 in the institute’s collection, estimated Abdel-Hadi, who went on to commend the young activists’ courage."