Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Book Thief's Grandfather?

Imagine you are a scholar, an author and a millionaire to boot. You like the finer things in life - a nice home, valuable possessions and old books. One of your favourite past times is visiting the British Library and looking at some of the oldest books in their collection. I'm talking treasures here - books that are hundreds of years old. Books that were written by people who travelled the globe in the 15th and 16th century. You love reading the volumes, time travelling through the words of explorers long gone.

And then you whip out a scalpel and cut out the pages to take them home with you.


That's exactly what this man did, over eight years from 1998 to 2006. He has given no explanation as to why he did it, but hundreds of pages from some of the most valuable books in England (and possibly the world) were found in his own personal library after he removed them from volumes within the British and the Bodlein Libraries. My guess is he planned to take the whole book home with him, a few pages at a time. I think pages in your pocket are probably easier to smuggle out than a whole book under your jumper. Of course, he could have had the same books in his collection that were missing a few pages and wanted to complete them.

Read the story here.

What do you think? Are you scandalised at the thought of cutting out pages from precious books? What would you steal if you were a millionaire?


Malice Blackheart said...

What a strange person.

If I were an eccentric millionaire, I would want to steal beauty. Maybe concoct some sort of potion or magic spell that allows me to turn beautiful people ugly, and then take my own hideous, twisted form and make it prettier with each new victim. No wait, I'm thinking of fantasy.

nishaa said...

Deranged book-lover cum kleptomaniac...A seriously disturbed soul.

The only thing I'd want to steal if I happened to be a millionaire is a few moments of peace,away from the sycophants who are inevitably seen hanging around these millionaire types.

Inkpot said...

Hi Mal. I think there is a story in that stealing beauty scenario - and also serious money if you could manage to patent such a device. Perhaps that is how you make your millions?

Hi Nishaa.Disturbed, most definitely. Surely it can't be a crime to steal some peace? It sounds nice, even for non millionaires.

Anonymous said...

I think he is a thief an a vandal- probably using his millions to have access to these rare books and then mutilating them. No way is he a book lover-
I think Malice Blackheart's idea would make a really good (in a horrible twisted way) horror flick.
I think there should be a chapter due

G. Coppard said...

I can totally see this happening and no doubt there are many behavioral cousins across the globe.

Imagine, you are a gazillionaire, used to being recognized by folks across the country, intellectuals as well as commoners. You have phenomenal drive, a brain the size of Mt. Everest and you always get what you want.

Then comes the day when some human gets in the way of your desire. You want to buy your favorite restaurant from the owner, but he won't budge. So maybe you plant something unsanitary in the kitchen and call the press. His business drops off and he has to sell. Sure, it was a crime, but you gave him a fair price.

The next time you want to divert the highway headed for your quiet mansion in the hills. This one is tough, but you are used to getting what you want. You end up bribing three officials to create a report about hardpan in the line of roadway development and they are forced to move it towards someone else's home. Too bad for them, but you didn't pay three big ones to have traffic noise in your backyard.

This continues over the years and decades as you slowly become desensitized to the boundary separating legal and illegal actions. Reality blurs.

Your greatest passion is books, one or two famous tombs in particular. You view these books over and over and fantasize constantly about having them in your already massive library. What will it take?

You try everything you can imagine short of hiring a cat burglar and that type of lawlessness would never work because you've known about common thieves since you were a child and justifying that kind of crime still isn't in you.

You finally devise a plan. You start taking pages at a time from the book. You create an airtight, gold emblazoned case in your library. You figure that at some point you'll have so many pages of the thing the book will be worthless and you can get it for next to nothing at auction. Put it back together.

But some yahoo catches you before your plan is complete and now you're in the slammer, scheming ways to steal the biggest cell and best slice of roast pork fat.

I can totally see it.

Inkpot said...

Yes Anon, there are many chapters due. I agree with you about him being a thief and Mal's idea making a cool horror movie.

Wow G.C, you have really thought about this! I particularly like the gold emblazoned case for the stolen pages. Yes, as you put it it makes sense. I suppose if you can afford anything money can buy you look for other ways to get your thrills.