The Library as Universe in the Baroque and the Neobaroque

Caitlin Brenner


The Baroque movement in painting, architecture, and sculpture was the predominant trend in art during the seventeenth century. It’s “integration of real and fictive space” sought to fuse the natural and the metaphysical, and its defining traits include verisimilitude, an affinity with the ‘passions of the soul,’ and a sense of the infinite, all created by the manipulations of time, space, and light (Martin 14). Consequently, the Baroque library did not function solely as a place to house works of literature, science, theology, and art, it became a realm of ideas in an age “which strove for an awareness of the totality of human experience…connecting the past with the present and the future” (Rovelstad 542). Articles by Rovelstad and Garrett explore how these Baroque and European style libraries were thought be compendiums of all knowledge.

The library’s main characteristics of order, community, and artistic embellishment will be explored in conjunction with fictional libraries found in certain New World and Neobaroque works of fiction in this paper. I want to explore aspects of the libraries found in works by Márquez, Donoso, and Borges to see how the idea of the Baroque library is warped and how that mirrors the ways in which reality itself was comprehended in each era. Through the Neobaroque ideas of “counterconquest” and “anti-modernity” the European style library is attacked as the accepted structure of the universe, and instead persists only as one room in the many roomed house that is the world of the Neobaroque.


Baroque, libraries, Neobaroque, New World Baroque

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