The Story of the librarian

Librarian Vatican Museum's spiral staircase

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Have I ever told you a story about my librarian? Well, I saw him a few days ago when I woke up before the village had woken up and headed out soon after to go to the library. I wore my Delpozo sweater to keep me warm from the dew of the morning and a pair of yellow shorts — I like to wear this colour when I go visit the librarian.

I rang the bell and waited for him in front of the large door — one that looked more like the entrance of an ancient cathedral rather than a library. I heard him unlock the door, so I started pushing it back to help him. The librarian is a short man, with his stringy hair moving about with every step of his slow paced nature, that suggests to those who do not know him that the man has led one stationary life, but he has lived a thousand and one lives in the tales he has read and in the wonderfully weird worlds he has created in his stories. His wrinkles are heavy on his face, making him look dreary. He was carrying a cane this morning and he rested on it once the door was opened. The world always turns black and white once I see the librarian.

Librarian Delpozo sweater jorge luis borges

I wore my Delpozo sweater to keep me warm…
Image source: Delpozo FW 14

“Morning Señor Borges.”

“Madeliene, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing Señor.”

“Then what do you need?”

“I need a book.”

“The sun isn’t up yet.”

“We can light a candle.”

He laughed, animating the wrinkles on his face. We pushed the door behind us and walked up the staircase — this dark and spiralling space that always makes me think it leads to infinity, until we arrived at the library’s rotunda. It always takes me a turn or two to take in all of the walls of books that inhabit this library, then I breathe deep in resignation.

Librarian Jorge Luis Borges ...moving about with every step of his slow paced nature...

Jorge Luis Borges
…moving about with every step of his slow paced nature…

“So, what would you like to read?”

“The world.”

“Well then, you’re in the right place.”

“How should I do this? Where do I start?”

“There is never a way to start, you just do.”

“I am never going to be able to read all of these books am I?”

“No Madeliene, you will need a thousand and one lives to subsist in the thousand and one lives found in this labyrinth of stories but you must subsist in as many as you possibly can.”

He left me soon after he said this, walking back to his lives with slow steps. I stayed here for a while — no, I’m lying, I stayed here for a long time. I don’t think I ever left.

Story credits: The Paris Review- The Art of Fiction no. 39; Jorge Luis Borges’ The Library of Babel

Images via Delpozo; The Vatican Museum.

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