Tuesday, August 03, 2004

A well of lost plots

The Library of Unwritten Books travels the U.K.

The original concept comes from the library of unpublished books in Richard Brautigan's novel The Abortion — and it was the desire to bring unpublished ideas into the open that brought the library into reality.

Read an excerpt of the inspiration (published 1971).

It may well have inspired Jasper Fforde (published 2004):

Borges once imagined the universe as a library. Fforde adapts this idea but brings to it his own grace and antic disposition. All books, it turns out, are essentially copies of living Platonic originals that are kept in the Library, an otherworldly building consisting of 26 floors, one for each letter of the alphabet. In the basement of this vast but orderly structure lies the Well of Lost Plots, the realm where unpublished manuscripts are polished and readied for publication. Nearby looms a vast word sea, the final resting place for discarded books once they are broken down into their component elements.

"The Well of Lost Plots is a veritable linguistic free-for-all where grammasites run rampant, plot devices are hawked on the black market, and lousy books . . . are scrapped for salvage."

In 1979, Italo Calvino catalogued the books that had been written, elegizing the act of reading in so doing.

If on a Winter's Night a Traveller enchants us with unfinished stories, awes us with the potential.

I'm producing too many stories at once because what I want is for you to feel, around the story, a saturation of other stories that I could tell and maybe will tell or who knows may already have told on some other occasion, a space full of stories that is simply my lifetime, where you can move in all directions, as in space, always finding stories that cannot be told until other stories are told first, and so, setting out from any moment or place, you encounter always the same density of material to be told. In fact, looking in perspective at everything I am leaving out of the main narration, I see something like a forest that extends in all directions and is so thick that it doesn't allow light to pass: a material, in other words, much richer than what I have chosen to put in the foreground this time, so it is not impossible that the person who follows my story may feel himself a bit cheated, seeing that the stream is dispersed into so many trickles, and that of the essential events only the last echoes and reverberations arrive at him. . .

A book not written, a tale not told. A good writer opens our eyes to what's not been written and opens our minds to be able to read it.
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