Thursday, July 23, 2015

Case Study No. 2107: Staff of Unnamed Library (La Biblioteca)

La Biblioteca
A play by Carlos Maggi
Tags: librarians broadway biblioteca
Added: 6 months ago
From: ToonLib
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Don Schopenhauer Perez, aggressive and authorative, is the library's new Director.
However, his staff leaves a lot to be desired.
Don Esteban Fattori, the library's Subdirector, is known to all as the Old Goat.
Senora de Luppi, the library's Secretary, can't seem to keep his appointments straight.
Achilles, the library's Janitor, is fixated on locating a spitoon.
Monteiro and Martinez spend more time mocking him than doing work.
How is this new library ever going to get off the ground?



Carlos Maggi (born August 5, 1922 in Montevideo, Uruguay) is a Uruguayan lawyer, playwright, journalist and writer.

He is one of the last surviving members of the Generation of 45, a Uruguayan intellectual and literary movement.

* La trastienda [The Back Room], (Teatro Verdi, 1958)
* La biblioteca [The Library], (Teatro del Pueblo, 1959)
* La noche de los angeles inciertos [The Night of Uncertain Angels], (Teatro del Pueblo, 1960)
* La gran viuda [The Great Widow], (Teatro Solis, 1961)



Uruguayan dramatist Maggi opens this play in 1917, with the young library director (the Director) fulminating over his speech on the laying of the new library's cornerstone, a speech to be attended by the Secretary General. He is also in a dither over a poem on which he is working, "The Low Blow of the Oboe," for a literary magazine and worries whether his frock coat will be ready for his weekend wedding. In the midst of these claims on his attention, he interviews a woman who wants to work in the library. "I love books!" she exults. "I've got one at home."

When the next act begins, set ten years later, the new library has not yet been built. Decades more pass, and still the "new" library remains a figment of the staff's imagination. They stumble through their pointless work as makeshift adjustments in the old library solidify into permanent features. The formerly young Director is pushing into middle age and not liking it. "My life's become meaningless, bitter," he complains. "I'm wasting my life, throwing it away on one stupidity after another." He can't stand his family. He hates his wife. "Life is so wonderful," he says, "I've thought of killing myself."

In the end, when the library is about to undergo demolition and the collection is in dead storage, a literary scholar engages the Director in a nonsensical, pompous argument over obtaining a manuscript. With the library about to come down around his ears, the Director laments, "All the days of my life. Coming to the same place, seeing the same people. And what for? For nothing. Absolutely nothing."

A play of merciless futility and hope that exists only to be defeated, The Library initially offers some space for laughter, but the joyless, bureaucratic absurdity that accumulates throughout leaves room for little but despair and pity.

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