Anecdotes about the power of libraries never stop coming

Growing up, Clementine spent much of his teenage years at the library, which became his sanctuary. He was taken by the writing of William Blake and Immanuel Kant, and was particularly interested in the work of the 17th-century philosopher John Locke, whose ‘‘Essay Concerning Human Understanding’’ he consumed like ‘‘fatherly wisdom.’’ ‘‘I didn’t blend well with my classmates or my teachers,’’ he said. ‘‘So I did my homework here, and all of a sudden that was my life.’’ It seemed to me that Clementine’s autodidacticism was his way of asking how one should be in a world that doesn’t make sense — the type of inquisitive probing we get in his soulful songs, which draw on the work of French performers such as Léo Ferré, Édith Piaf and Henri Salvador. ‘‘I wanted to find people who were like me, and I did, in the people I was reading.’’

Source: Unlocking the Mystery of Benjamin Clementine – The New York Times

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
This entry was posted in Public library history. Bookmark the permalink.