Moving house, unpacking my library

Right after the holiday, I moved house. This explains the irregular posts here, and the backlog of emails, especially for the journal.

No matter how clear I made it on the phone to the removal company, they still didn’t seem to comprehend what a lot of books actually meant. I tried it in a couple of different ways – “it’s about 10 six foot tall bookshelves, plus some three foot ones, all full”. “This is not a small job”. “You need to bring a seven and a half ton lorry; it will not fit in a Luton van”. All to no avail. They turned up at midday, expecting a half-day job, with a Luton van. “F**k me mate, you have got a lot of books!” They ended up sending for the lorry, with another team, to help complete the job. The last box was unloaded in the new house at 10.30pm.  There was then the task of unpacking.

Many of my books are at work in the office. though I do have a lot at home. I’ve talked about the system for books before, and the new place is going to be similar. I think I will move a lot of the history of philosophy and history of political thought books from the office to home, and because the study here is smaller than the one in the old place I will only have academic books in it. But this place has a spare room, which the last didn’t, and that will be shelved with novels, cds, dvds etc.

So, the study, which I suspect will be spending a great deal of time in. It has a view, which is a plus – there is a small wood behind us, with a little stream, and then farmland and hills behind. It’s a new housing development on the edge of an ex-pit village, but despite being very close to the A1, and not exactly isolated, this feels like being in the country. The natural light is best in the afternoon, which isn’t ideal, but it feels good at the moment. My large desk (actually a dining room table) fits easily. There is a room for a chair too, for reading. Three of the walls have shelves up; the other has fitted wardrobes which I’ve also filled with shelves to put files, papers, etc. on – accessible but out of sight.

The wall behind me will have all the pre-modern theory, philosophy, etc. The one to the left the Germans – Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Fink, Sloterdijk – and the last one Lefebvre, Axelos and Foucault. (Other recent theorists are all at work.) I’ve organised much of the last two of these already, though the packing logic of the removal firm escapes me. As with previous moves at times it feels like they’ve shuffled them like a pack of cards. I know I’m missing stuff – most of Hegel, for instance – and guess that must be in one of the boxes of novels or somewhere. I eventually found my computer after opening just about every box – they’d put it in the same kind of box as the books, and not labelled it.

I was sorry to leave my last study, as I’d done a lot of good writing there – the final version of Terror and Territory, and (hopefully) the penultimate version of The Birth of Territory – but I think this one will be good too. Getting this room right for writing is a key priority – being much closer to work means I should be able to divide space and time more clearly: work office for teaching and admin; home study for writing.

(You can find Walter Benjamin’s wonderful essay “Unpacking my library“, in the Illuminations collection).

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5 Responses to Moving house, unpacking my library

  1. Chathan says:

    What’s the whole line of old hardcovers? In the middle…..
    On a separate note, correct me if I’m wrong but do I see a complete German paperback set of Nietzsche?

    • stuartelden says:

      The hardback books are not old – it’s the Heidegger Gesamtausgabe. The grey dustjackets are often removed in libraries – they are blue, red and gold underneath. Yes, there is the Nietzsche Kritische Studienausgabe there too – there is a fuller edition but this is the affordable one.

  2. Chathan says:

    Ah my mistake re Heidegger. Yes I saw the nietzsche set at the seminary coop a while back. Not the full edition?

  3. Chathan says:

    Regarding the view of the woods, streams, farmland, etc you must feel like Heidegger at Todtnauberg.

  4. Pingback: Building a personal research and teaching library… | Progressive Geographies

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