Representing the Library
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Approaching the idea of the library as a polyvocal, self-contradictory and even paradoxical dream, this thesis examines five select texts to examine how this dream emerges across vastly different representations in fiction. Discussed texts include Jorge Luis Borges’ “The Library of Babel” and “The Book of Sand,” Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient, Ian McEwan’s Atonement, and Thomas Wharton’s Salamander. Special attention is given to the archetypal opposition between daytime’s clarity and night’s disorder, as well as to Alberto Manguel’s two hypothesized library foundational myths, the Tower of Babel and the Library of Alexandria. Although it attempts to remain conscious of social realities surrounding and producing historical libraries, this thesis is primarily concerned with the textual irruption of libraries in fictional narratives, and while its argument articulates the problematic dimension of libraries, it also endeavours to show how libraries are healthy, necessary, and even inevitable human creations.