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The Deliberate Destruction of Knowledge

Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, University of Oxford

November 16, 2020 · 1:00 pm-2:00 pm · Online

Princeton University Library; Harvard University Press; Friends of the Princeton University Library; Labyrinth Books

Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian at the University of Oxford, presents an exploration of the deliberate destruction of knowledge – especially of libraries and archives through history, from the ancient libraries and archives of Mesopotamia, through the Great Library of Alexandria, the European Reformation of the 16th century, through to more recent attacks, including the Holocaust, Bosnia in the 1990s, and Iraq in the 2000s.

The talk will also look at literary destructions from Byron to Plath. As much as examining the motivations of destruction, the talk will look at the social value of the preservation of knowledge, especially in the digital world in which we are all immersed.

“This book should stir us to thinking and to action—against censorship, against careless loss,and for the preservation of the memory of where we came from and of our right to be where we are.”
— Michael Skapinker, Financial Times (ft.com)

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