I haven’t investigated in any scientific way yet, but there are areas of the Book Fair which are going to be exceptionally large this year. It seems to me that you are bringing in more art books every day, to the extent that I expect any day now to see an announcement that Chicago has begun to tip the direction of the Newberry. There has also been a recent migration of Show Biz books, including a book on how to ruin a hit play by making it into a movie and what purports to be a history of pornographic movies, but really covers only the “Golden Age”: roughly 1970 to 1981. Gee whiz.
We do NOT seem to be getting as many copies of The Help or The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood this year (don’t feel you need to rush in with yours. We do have some for the buying public.) Stieg Larssen continues to arrive in big loads, as does Alexander McCall Smith. Harry Potter will be here, in print if not in person. (But who knows? He’s a wizard.)
There is also an author whose work seems to come in every week. We get his books now and again, but someone seems to be bringing us, in easy installments, all of his lectures, pamphlets, and major works. He was a big thinker—one of those people who made no small pans—and he wrote books on science, philosophy, religion, architecture, mysticism, politics, banking, health, music, education, drama, agriculture, diet, and dance, and I’ve probably missed a few. (One of our volunteers was a student of a student of his in dance, and donated a valuable book on his theories a few years before her death.)
Everything he wrote about, however, was tied together in one system, and for that reason, all of his books will be found, at least at the outset of the Book Fair, in our Science Fiction, Fantasy, New Age. I feel this would not have shocked or surprised him. He was used to being way ahead of his time.
His name was Rudolf Steiner, and in his sixty-four years, he probably touched on just about every field in which the human intellect could be involved. He began as a philosopher-scientist who picked up a lot of his scientific world view from Geothe. Holding that there was no plausible limit to human knowledge, he branched off from there into, basically. everything else. He named his worldview anthroposophy, which holds that there is no part of the world that is not susceptible to our understanding, whether on the material or spiritual plane. In its scientific approach to all things, it has been denounced as being hopelessly anti-scientific. Other people found his argument that a properly trained human being did not need any higher authorities (being able to cope with anything) unnerving. (He extended the role of authorities to himself, and argued that you could understand his system perfectly well without having to agree with or follow him. Refreshing thought.) As for anthroposophical architecture, dance, drama, music, and other art forms, some people like ‘em and some people don’t. It’s like anybody else’s architecture, drama, poetry, etc.
Anyway, including all the books of his collected blackboard sketches, poetry, drama, etc., his complete works come to about 400 volumes. I have not seen a complete list of these, and some of the things we’ve been getting in are so small they must just be parts of books: one lecture, say, or a collection of two or three articles about one subject. I have opted to group them in New Age, since that is where his books which are in the most demand—How to Know Higher Worlds, An Outline of Esoteric Science, and reincarnation and Immortality–would have gone in any case. I can’t swear that we will have everything Steiner ever wrote—as I say, more comes in every week—but if you look there, you should be able to find a LOT of it.