THE “BIBLIOTHÈQUE CHOISIE”¹
(A teacher noticed that the “Bibliothèque Choisie” contained a
rather high proportion of books which should not be there if the library is to
be worthy of its name. She spoke of this to Mother in the course of several
interviews. This was the outcome:)
Mother's advice about the composition of the “Bibliothèque
Remove all modern novels.
Include only scholarly
works, on philosophy, art, the sciences.
The best thing would be to bring the list of books to Mother, a
little at a time, so that she can see what they contain.
This is an important
The teacher asked Mother what she meant by “scholarly works”. She
All books that aim to teach.
The aim of the “Bibliothèque Choisie” is to teach the students
good French and the best in French thought.
It should include mainly scholarly works, that is, works
was taken down as Mother was speaking. It was immediately read out to her and
she wrote on it “Approved” and signed it.
which aim to teach: books on philosophy, art, the sciences, etc.
There should be very few novels (the students read only too many
novels), and no modern novels, unless they are of particularly good quality.
Literature has its place in the “Bibliothèque Choisie”, so that
the students can learn what literature is.
The most important thing to be taken into consideration when
selecting books, is the quality of the language and style,1 something
“splendid” as in Flaubert. No translations, or very few, and only if they are
of famous works one cannot say “masterpieces” because there are so few of them!2
bad books which are to be withdrawn from the “Bibliothèque Choisie”, Mother
They should be put in a special place, in a special room called
“Bad Books”, so that those who want to study what they contain may do so.
Great care must be taken when ordering books.
The question of the “Bibliothèque Choisie” is an important one.
MESSAGE FOR THE “BIBLIOTHÈQUE
The aim of the
“Bibliothèque Choisie” is to teach French well.
1. The books should be well written.
2. Preference should
be given to those that are interesting from the point of view of learning.
3. Include novels only if
they are remarkably well written.
4. Very few translations only those of famous books.
5. Send all the rest to the Big Library with the note: “Not to be
sentence was being read out, Mother showed particular approval.
2This note was
taken down after a conversation between Mother and the same teacher. It was
read to Mother, who wrote “Approved” and signed it.
was dictated by Mother, then checked by her and signed.
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read out to Mother a letter in which she had written, among other things: “I
think it is possible to change most of the books in the “Bibliothèque Choisie”
and to raise its standard a little. Please tell me if you approve of this and
if I may try to realise it.” Mother replied orally, with force :*)
Completely, I approve completely. It is indispensable. We have
fallen to such a level! In everything! Ah, I agree completely.
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