On the Janiculum

On Thursday this week I went to the American Academy to have a look at some books from their large library. The collection is centred on classical studies, history of art and architecture and has about 135.000 volumes (compared to the 25.000 volumes of the Danish Academy).

The American Academy in Rome

I was kindly received by the librarian but as this library has open shelves I was left on my own to browse. Great! Makes everything much easier and faster. And more inspiring – when you are allowed to look around for yourself the chances are you will stumble upon interesting stuff you never thought of searching for or knew the existence of. I like this much underrated side of research – the go-where-your-nose-takes-you-method.

I sat down in this beautiful reading room and puzzled over visual representations anatomical lessons and of the dissected body from the 15th-18th centuries and then it was time to eat!I has bought a lunch ticket and was allowed to join the fellows of the academy for lunch. Look!

Then just add people and food. And they were so nice and talkative and I enjoyed myself for some three quarters of an hour learning about projects of book restoring, Latin translation, and composing. Very nice.

And then back to reading about the nature of pre- and postlapsarian man according to St Gregory of Nyssa. Just to get a theological view of what man is in essence. According to Gregory an essential human being is without skin. Which is nice to know when you are writing a thesis about flayed men in J.H. Fuseli’s drawings and the meaning of that 🙂

As the bar was closed in the afternoon I didn’t have a coffee, but I did have a walk in the garden. Mmmm. As always the Americans do it on a large scale.

I had a very good and effective day in that library. It is so well equipped and has such a calm atmosphere that I would go there all the time if it weren’t so far off. As it is I enjoyed this visit very much.


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