Friday, 11 August 2006

In the Reading Room


No posting yesterday since I was out all day – just in case you're interested, I had two meals with friends and the bits in between were spent in the Reading Room of the British Library, that great temple of learning near King’s Cross station. I needed to do some reading for a lecture I’ll be giving shortly on ‘St Augustine and the Conversion of England.’

The hundreds of people who use the Reading Room were as interesting as the books themselves (if not more so), so a period of ‘people watching’ inevitably followed the reading of each paragraph (especially as the hours ticked by). Carlyle famously said: ‘I believe there are several persons in a state of imbecility who come to read in the British Museum [where the Library was formerly located]. I have been informed that there are several in that state who are sent there by their friends to pass away their time.’ He exaggerates but may have a point – there were certainly plenty of colourful characters.

The Reading Room displayed a rare sight yesterday – not one but two English Catholic priests crouched over their desks! I had lunch with my fellow reader, Fr Uwe Michael Lang of the Oratory, a chum from University and author of Turning towards the Lord, who was researching his paper for the forthcoming CIEL conference. He provided welcome relief from the dusty volumes and a dose of sanity!

4 Comments:

Blogger Boeciana said...

The BL is a vortex of scholarly social circles, as far as I can tell - on the few occasions I've had reason to head south to it, I always meet people I know. I like to think of this as the gravitational force of vast numbers of books, although suspect that if one did the stats it would work out as quite likely that, given the numbers of Britons engaged in academic research and the numbers of BL readers, any given subsets of the two will overlap on any given day...

Yay Fr Lang - a year ago we were all Juventutemites at WYD, sigh...

1:42 pm  
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