The Refined Reader aims to take a look at the journey to where we are as readers today. It's part history, part commentary - providing a brief, conversational summary of various aspects of our bookish past and comparing it to how it has affected us in modern times. I love history, but I am no historian, and while I plan to do my research, if there are any errors, please let me know! This is as much a learning venture for me as I hope it is for my blog visitors!
|Artist reconstruction of the Library (source)|
There are many things we don't know about the Library of Alexandria, like the exact nature and the number of all the scrolls it contained and how much ground-breaking knowledge, stories and science were lost. The exact nature of why we lost the Library is not clearly known either. The destruction of the library is conjectured to have been a gradual event, precipitated by destructive wars and Christian and Muslim conquerors who believed the knowledge contained in the library was against God. But it was a terrible loss, and many believe that if we had kept that knowledge we would be a much more advanced civilization today. Aristarchus, an ancient Greek astronomer, was the first to propose a heliocentric worldview, that the Earth revolves around the sun - 1800 years before Copernicus!
I find the history of the Library of Alexandria so interesting because it shows how advanced people in ancient times were. And how they valued books, and the knowledge and the entertainment it contained. The library was open to both men and women because knowledge and scholarship was open to all. Such amazing values and tolerance that we had to find again over the course of hundreds of years.
There is no easy answer to the question I'm coming up with for this post but it's something I wonder about sometimes - you don't have to pick one book though, or you can just go with your first thought:
What in your opinion is one of the most culturally significant works of fiction? Something that speaks of our humanity and captures an important aspect of our existence?
For instance a book we would send into space for aliens to get an idea of our society - my first thought was To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.
Wikipedia / Wikipedia
Website of the Librarian of Alexandria
The Straight Dope