Library

Twenty years after the creation of the Foundation, the Bibliotheca Bodmeriana was inaugurated on 6 Oct. 1951 and given its official name.

In a private letter dated 21 January 1969 and addressed from Pontresina, Martin Bodmer writes, “We do indeed need [underlined twice] a library that is up to the challenge! Despite everything, it is a wonder (discretely away from prying eyes), yet represents a gem of our day and age.”

In 1970, he summarizes the library’s scope in these terms, “The undertaking is ambitious. It is an attempt to embrace the human in its totality, history as it is reflected in the creation of the mind throughout the ages and in every corner of the world” (in Image, published by Roche in Basel).

Finally, in one of his last notes, dating from the evening of New Year’s Day 1971, in Chardonney, he exclaims while writing in considerable pain:

“It is truly quite a horrible New Year’s Eve – so far far away from Meyer’s dear ‘New Year’s Bells’! Alice again gives me something and I finally fall asleep. Nevertheless – and here the great wonder springs up – the idea is born, the idea I have been waiting for over many a long week and it is the solution. Precisely on that terrible night of the first of January 1971! It is very simple: Chorus mysticus brings together the representatives of history that come closest to the human in its totality, as a whole.”

Bernard Gagnebin gave the following subtitle to his brochure on the Bodmer Foundation: Une source capitale pour la recherche à Genève. It is indeed a capital source for research in Geneva. Gagnebin concludes on this note, “For archeologists, art historians, papyrologists, medievalists, specialists of French, German, English, Italian, Spanish, Scandinavian, Slavic and Eastern literatures, for historians of law and the sciences, of printing and writing, the Martin Bodmer Foundation constitutes an almost inexhaustible mine for research and discovery.”

bibliotheque