So I see you survived Washington

I’ve been to some pretty interesting literary sites this summer and I was going to write about them, but I realized I never wrote about the pretty interesting literary sites I went to last summer.   Most of the pretty interesting literary sites I went to last summer are in Washington, DC.  Some of them are obviously literary, like this bookstore.

I didn’t actually go here.  We passed by, and I thought it looked pretty
interesting, but certain people I was with were in kind of a hurry.

Some are less obvious, but I think you’ll get the connection.

Gary, Adrien, and I started out by touring the Capitol building.  While we were there getting drinks of water and waiting to go through the secret underground tunnel that leads to the Library of Congress, I overheard some children talking to their parents.  One of them, a boy about 9 or 10 years old, said, "Remember in National Treasure, he goes to buy a copy of the Decoration of Independence from the gift shop and it cost $35? Well in this gift shop it only cost $4!"  Like you’d think someone as familiar with the byways of the Capitol as Benjamin Gates was would know where the bargain souvenirs were sold.   And I'll probably call it the Decoration of Independence from now on. 

Soon enough, we took the secret tunnel and found ourselves in the Library of Congress.   

The walls and ceilings of the Library of Congress look like how I imagine the inside of my brain does when I think about my favorite authors and books:  so colorful and symbolic and really kind of overwrought and frenetic because you just can’t leave even a single impression alone. 

 I kind of wish this was my bedside lamp.

There were various displays in the library, but we didn’t have time to see them all because we only had about an hour and a half to spend there.   We saw Thomas Jefferson's original book collection, or what's left of it after it was partially destroyed in a fire in 1850-something.  No photography was allowed.  I can understand no flash photography, but not no photography at all.  Jefferson had a very interesting system for organizing his books.  I don’t think I’d use it, though, because his categories don't quite cover what I have in my library.  For instance, there's not a single steampunk novel in his entire collection.  Anyway, Jefferson’s library is probably the thing I like best about the man.  I’m a John Adams fan, myself.

We also saw a display of Civil War photographs, and of early Maya, Aztec, Mixtec, and Inca artifacts and documents.  No photography allowed.  Some of the documents were created by the Spaniards themselves when they first came into contact with those cultures.  Adrien said she wanted a Maya codex really bad.  So if you ever see one, get it for her, please.  

We wanted to see their copy of the Gutenberg Bible, but it was off display while they were working on the fire suppression system within the case.  I was a little disappointed, but I've seen Gutenberg Bibles at the Huntington and the British Library so I wasn't enraged.  

We also went upstairs to the Reading Room overlook which you may recall from the movie National Treasure 2 No photography allowed.  But that didn’t stop Adrien.

Next stop:  the Folger Shakespeare Library!


Adrien said...

I *do* really want a Maya codex! I think it would be cool. And I forgot I took that picture of the reading room...haha. I can't wait to see what you have to say about Dad taking a video of the reading room at the Folger!

Megan said...