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Massimo Listri: The World’s Most Beautiful Libraries (40th Ed.) Taschen Book

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About the book

Exceptional access to the world’s illustrious libraries

From the mighty halls of ancient Alexandria to the coffered ceilings of the Morgan Library in New York, human beings have had a long, enraptured relationship with libraries. Like no other concept and like no other space, the collection of knowledge, learning, and imagination offers a sense of infinite possibility. It’s the unrivaled realm of discovery, where every faded manuscript or mighty clothbound tome might reveal a provocative new idea, a far-flung fantasy, an ancient belief, a religious conviction, or a whole new way of being in the world.

In this new photographic journey, Massimo Listri travels to some of the oldest and finest libraries to reveal their architectural, historical, and imaginative wonder. Through great wooden doors, up spiraling staircases, and along exquisite, shelf-lined corridors, he leads us through outstanding private, public, educational, and monastic libraries, dating as far back as 766. Between them, these medieval, classical, baroque, rococo, and 19th-century institutions hold some of the most precious records of human thought and deed, inscribed and printed in manuscripts, volumes, papyrus scrolls, and incunabula. In each, Listri’s poised images capture the library’s unique atmosphere, as much as their most prized holdings and design details.

Featured libraries include the papal collections of the Vatican Apostolic Library and the Trinity College Library, home to the Book of Kells and Book of Durrow. With meticulous descriptions accompanying each featured library, we learn not only of the libraries’ astonishing holdings—from which highlights are illustrated—but also of their often lively, turbulent, or controversial pasts. Like the Franciscan monastery in Lima, Peru, with its horde of archival Inquisition documents.

The photographer

Born in Florence in 1953, Massimo Listri began his professional career as a photographer working for art and architecture magazines. During the course of his career he has created over 70 books, collaborating with the most prestigious European and international publishers. For the last few years he has devoted himself to exhibiting his art around the world.

The authors

Elisabeth Sladek studied Art History in Vienna, Classical Archaeology and Judaic Studies and wrote her dissertation at the Max Planck Institute in Rome. Her special field is the history of the Baroque art and architecture and she is an active researcher and teacher, among others in Vienna, Rome and Zurich. She also publishes regularly on the respective themes.

After studying history, German language and literature, education and philosophy, Georg Ruppelt gained his PhD with a doctoral thesis on Friedrich Schiller. He subsequently worked as a librarian, becoming deputy director of the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel in 1987, and director of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Bibliothek in Hanover from 2002 to 2016. Ruppelt has published over 400 essays and 40 monographs on the subject of books, library science, and cultural history.

Hardcover, 6.1 x 8.5 in., 2.45 lb, 512 pages