A Library User’s View
(Florence, Italy, 1988.) Not long ago I was in Rouen to spend the day at the bright and hospitable Municipal Library, which has one of France’s most important collections of Flaubert manuscripts – the most important, for my purposes. Sometimes I have gone up to Rouen just to consult ordinary books and periodicals and to be able to make inexpensive photocopies for that alone makes the 90-minute journey from Paris worthwhile. That day, at the desk just in front of mine, a reader obviously fascinated with her subject turned the pages of what I recognized – from my own recent work with it – as the original manuscript of Madame Bovary. It took some time for me to realize that the crackling sounds I heard came not from the reader’s elbow joints, but from the spine of the bound manuscript, for she had her elbows dug into it.