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The E-Sylum (12/22/2013)

Book Content

Alan Luedeking forwarded this BBC News article with more information about the rare book thefts we discussed last week. Thanks. here's an excerpt; be sure to read the complete article online. -Editor

Girolamini library Inside a 16th Century church complex in the heart of Naples, the Biblioteca Girolamini's wooden shelves rise up and up towards richly decorated walls and vaulted ceilings.

They once held works of extraordinary value. There was a 1518 edition of Thomas More's brilliant and mysterious Utopia. Galileo's 1610 treatise Sidereus Nuncius, containing more than 70 drawings of the moon and the stars. And Johannes Kepler's study of the motions of Mars, Astronomia Nova, described as one of greatest books in the history of astronomy.

But this magnificent piece of Italy's cultural heritage was methodically plundered. Thousands of antique texts disappeared.

"Our investigations found that there was a true criminal system in action," says Major Antonio Coppola, a police chief who is leading the operation to recover the stolen texts. "A group of people... carried out a devastating, systematic looting of the library."

"There were books spread around everywhere - on the floor, on the stairs, on tables. There was garbage - soda cans and papers - on the floor. It was total confusion, a situation of major decay. One of the library's members of staff took me aside, away from the CCTV cameras, and said: 'Professor, the director has been looting the library!'"

The director was Marino Massimo de Caro.

Montanari wrote an article for the Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper, arguing that having De Caro as librarian was like having an arsonist in charge of a forest.

To read the complete article, see: Naples' Girolamini: The looting of a 16th Century library (

To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see: GIROLAMINI LIBRARY BOOK THEFTS (

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