Imaginary Books: An Exhibition of Lost, Unwritten, and Fictive Books from the Collection of Reid Byers
From PU Princeton University Library on March 3rd, 2021
This is a collection of things that cannot be. It has been described as an exhibition of imaginary books, a bibliophilic entertainment, and a post- structuralist conceptual art installation. It consists of physical instantiations of Lost Books (with no surviving example), Unwritten Books (unbegun or unfinished), and Fictive Books (existing only in other books).
While the experience of an imaginary book is generally ludic, it can also be caustically satiric or dramatically aesthetic. It invariably inspires reflection: what difference would it make if we could peruse these volumes? Would we laugh differently if we still knew what Aristotle thought was funny? What if Karl Marx had finished the comedy he started? What function does a fictive book serve in its fictional world, and what does that tell us about ours? These books raise important questions for modern readers.
The collection is still on exhibition at le Club Fortsas, a bibliophilic society chiefly distinguished by its dubious ontological status. Mr. Byers will offer a tour of the exhibition via Zoom.