A Small Inheritance

My recently deceased aunt passed some books to me, mostly about philosophy and psychology. When I visited her the last time, she had told me how she had received some of these books. Some of these books had come from the library of the theologian Rudolf Bultmann. Bultmann had been a professor in Marburg. When my aunt was a student in that town, she got a job as a prompter in the metropolitan theater of Marburg. One other woman working there had been hired by the old Professor Bultmann to read books to him since he had become almost blind. When he died in 1976, she received some of his books and then passed some of these on to my aunt who was interested in them.

This way, a couple of books from this theologian have now ended up in my possession. My interest in theology is limited,  but this collection of books contains little about theology, but a lot of other interesting material. His theological books obviously went other ways. I cannot tell in every case which of the books I received are actually from Bultmann’s collection and which from my aunt’s (there is a lot of stuff about psychoanalysis, for example, and I am not sure if any of these come from Bultmann or just reflect my aunt’s interest in the topic), but I know for sure that the series of Eranos yearbooks in this stock of books comes from Bultmann’s possession, and there are some others (mostly about mythology and different religions) which I suspect to be from his library as well.

When we buy used books from antiquarian booksellers, we normally do not know the history of those books. By going through the hands of a bookseller, the history of the books, the history about their former owners and readers, is usually stripped away from them. I find it interesting to receive some books of which I know a little bit of the history. These books are intersting for their content, but they are also memory items and it is interesting to see what this particular theologian was interested in, even if I do not share his views.

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