The Song of a Library
author: Maciej Bielawski
title: The Song of a Library
translater: Leonardo Di Lisio
pubblisher: Lemma Press, 2018
What did Raimon Panikkar read?
How did he read?
What kind of books and authors
his life and his writings?
His library is currently accessible
at the University of Girona.
More than 12.000 books
with thousands of notes and dedications hide a story
that is worthy to be known.
If you take into consideration Raimon Panikkar’s existential events, if you keep present the chronology of his writing, include the development of his interests and the evolution of his thought: by keeping all this side by side with his extensive reading at the time: you will be able to design his intellectual biography. But such a task does not concern me because I am only a library. From my perspective I observe how in his life, thought and reading make up a totality, which is also reflected in me. I am a mirror that sings to the world a limited song about his reading, with which I try to sketch the biography of a reader. It covers the spectrum from his first studies of science and mathematics to philosophical, theological and spiritual readings enriched at the time by his interests in Eastern cultures and religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism, then enters over the years into political, social and ecological areas. Ranging over various themes, I think that the thread that unites his readings and work is ontological and mystical.
A lively mind is in constant search of new books. Panikkar was certainly neither a reader nor a thinker tied to a canon limited to texts he paged through without widening so as not to disperse. He went for themes, for problems while developing texts that he deepened, verified and continually enriched. Questions and problems were more constant with him, authors and texts less so.
He read books with the same facility and without preference in seven languages: Catalan, French, English, Italian, Latin, Spanish and German. He easily entered into the microcosm of each, and while reading, succeeded in thinking in the language he was reading, using the same language to make signs, notes and comments in the margins. Rarely in his and my books are annotations found in a language he knew which differed from that of the text.
(fragment from the fifth chapter of the book)