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Islamist Rebels Burn Libraries Containing Thousands of Medieval Manuscripts

Islamist Rebels Burn Libraries Containing Thousands of Medieval Manuscripts

The destruction of Goldstein’s book “1984” and the burning of books in two libraries in Mali both demonstrate the danger of limiting the literature available to society because of the loss of knowledge and understanding of the last it creates. In “1984” Goldsteins books are thought to be in very short supply because the “Thought Police hunts them down and destroys them” almost as fast as they can be produced because of the dangerous information they spread (193). This strategy is common when an organization wishes to hold power, such as when “Islamist rebels set fire to two libraries” in Timbuktu, putting “its entire artistic heritage at risk”. The importance of literature like this is astronomical, as it can change minds and entire societies about things. For example, Goldstein’s book helped solidify Winston’s dedication to the rebellion, and the newly discovered books destroyed in the fires in Mali were bringing to light an entire culture from the past that few people will ever know about and understand now. When literature from the past is destroyed, a bit of the past is also destroyed, which is exactly what happened in “1984” and Mali, and when that happens it is only other literature that can bring it back to life, which is what Goldstein’s book does. The knowledge written work brings can be shared across hundreds of years, and the loss of that knowledge, especially from times that we have limited understanding of already, can be catastrophic, as that can be one of the last few ways to access that history and to learn from it, something that is now nearly impossible in Mali and in “1984”, which makes it much easier for mistakes to be made and the wrong people to take power because the knowledge that could’ve once prevented that is gone, leaving the people at the mercy of those in power.

hyperallergic.com