Der Salon „Kaffeehausgespräche“ widmet sich nicht nur der schönen Literatur (Belletristik), sondern Büchern im Allgemeinen, wie Sie am Thema des nächsten Termins – „Ratgeberliteratur“ – sehen können.
In diesem Zusammenhang möchte ich etwas zum Thema „bacillus librorum“ bemerken. Es handelt sich dabei um einen Krankheitserreger, der die Bibliomanie auslöst. Diese unterscheidet sich von der Bibliophilie dadurch, dass der Bibliomane vor verbrecherischen Taten nicht zurückschreckt, um an ein Buch zu kommen und seine Büchersammlung zu vergrößern. Die Übergänge zwischen Bibliophilie und Bibliomanie sind fließend, nehme ich an.
Entdeckt wurde der bacillus librorum im neunzehnten Jahrhundert von einem Herrn Dr. O’Rell. Das versichert glaubhaft Eugene Field (1850-1895) in seinem, tja, Roman „Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac“ (1895).
Dr. O’Rell has an interesting theory which you will find recorded in the published proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (vol. xxxiv., p. 216). Or, if you cannot procure copies of that work, it may serve your purpose to know that the doctor’s theory is to this effect—viz., that bibliomania does not deserve the name of bibliomania until it is exhibited in the second stage. For secondary bibliomania there is no known cure; the few cases reported as having been cured were doubtless not bibliomania at all, or, at least, were what we of the faculty call false or chicken bibliomania.
“In false bibliomania, which,” says Dr. O’Rell, “is the primary stage of the grand passion—the vestibule to the main edifice—the usual symptoms are flushed cheeks, sparkling eyes, a bounding pulse, and quick respiration. … The sufferer now stands in a slippery place; unless his case is treated intelligently he will issue from that period of gloom cured of the sweetest of madnesses, and doomed to a life of singular uselessness.
“But properly treated,” continues Dr. O’Rell, “and particularly if his spiritual needs be ministered to, he can be brought safely through this period of collapse into a condition of reenforced exaltation, which is the true, or secondary stage of, bibliomania, and for which there is no cure known to humanity.”
I should trust Dr. O’Rell’s judgment in this matter, even if I did not know from experience that it was true. For Dr. O’Rell is the most famous authority we have in bibliomania and kindred maladies. It is he (I make the information known at the risk of offending the ethics of the profession)—it is he who discovered the bacillus librorum, and, what is still more important and still more to his glory, it is he who invented that subtle lymph which is now everywhere employed by the profession as a diagnostic where the presence of the germs of bibliomania (in other words, bacilli librorum) is suspected.
I once got this learned scientist to inject a milligram of the lymph into the femoral artery of Miss Susan’s cat. Within an hour the precocious beast surreptitiously entered my library for the first time in her life, and ate the covers of my pet edition of Rabelais. This demonstrated to Dr. O’Rell’s satisfaction the efficacy of his diagnostic, and it proved to Judge Methuen’s satisfaction what the Judge has always maintained—viz., that Rabelais was an old rat.