June 29, 2005

On the bright side, the overdue fines could be considerable . . .


A leaked confidential report from the French government says about 30,000 19th and 20th century books, including some 2,000 “precious” books — rare books of great value — have been reported missing from the collection of the National Library of France, and the “disappearances could date as far back as the end of World War II,” according to an Associated Press wire story by Sophie Nicholson. The books “were missing during an inventory before the library moved its main site from central to eastern Paris in 1996,” according to the report, first revealed by the daily Le Figaro when it “published excerpts of a confidential document on security measures ordered by the Culture Ministry in September after the discovery that Hebrew manuscripts had been stolen.” Nicholson reports “A former chief curator of the Hebrew manuscripts, Michel Garel, is under investigation for alleged theft and is suspected of having passed them on to art collectors. He denies the accusations.”

Dennis Johnson is the founder of MobyLives, and the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.