Monday, May 14, 2012

Mr. Newton Visits Vienna

Austrian National Library
My dear Mr. Newton has left the West Coast and has traveled to Vienna. I am at a disadvantage as I have never visited the city, but he writes so fondly of it that perhaps one day...

To his advantage, however, his wife (never named) is Viennese and helps with the translating. He quite breathlessly gives in just a few pages the long history of the country. And this only up to the 1930s. He writes of the Great War which to him is WWI. I doubt if he had an inkling of the horrors that were to come.

Of course he visits the library:

The library, which interested me most, is one of the great libraries of the world. The building itself is the work of the famous Fischer Von Erlach, an architect to whom Vienna owes some of its finest buildings. The great hall is one of the most superb rooms in Europe. It is baroque at its very best and is so placed that the doors at one end can be opened; it then becomes a part of a great ballroom.

How lovely it would be to find oneself walzing to the "Blue Danube" among all those books.

He later states:
The National Library in Paris is the most unhospitable institution in the world; the British Museum holds out a welcoming hand to the scholars of all nations; but for sheer beauty the Hofbibliothek of Vienna surpasses anything I have ever seen.

In looking for a photograph of the library, I read that it almost burned to the ground in 1992 but was saved. It contains over 200,000 manuscripts and books and remains the largest baroque library in Europe.

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