Preface to Torchlight

“The light they give is insufficient and unceasing,”  writes Jorge Luis Borges in his short story, “The Library of Babel”, when referring to bulbs in the Library.  Torchlighta Journal of Libraries and Bookish Love finds its context in a similar  half-lit  place and time of light and shadows. There is so much to know yet, and so much to share that even in our assuming that we know the library, we find we do not and so we are driven to go on searching.

“When it was announced that the Library contained all books, the first reaction was unbounded joy” (ibid., 69)1 and this is akin to the feeling of birthing Torchlight. What began as an idea amongst a few of us spread joyfully to include others and we find ourselves sharing our first issue of Torchlight with all of you. Watch ‘Bookseller of Matunga’ by Aarti Srinivasan to know more about how books can be accessed from unlikely places and always with joy and read Arvind Gupta’s essay on ‘A Million Books for Billion People’ that enables us to expand our idea of bookish love.

Borges writes, “Man the imperfect librarian may be the work of chance” (ibid., 67 )1 but stories and conversations in Samina Mishra’s  ‘Talking about Miss Moore’ remind us that chance and librarians can be good combinations when brought together.

We also share a most remarkable essay on library and life by Roshan Sahi that promises content of interest to pedagogue and philosopher and coheres well with Borges statement, “I declare that the Library is endless” (ibid., 66)1.

Jerry Pinto, an ambassador for reading and perpetuating libraries writes passionately and with humour in his essay, ‘On Libraries’, while Thejasvi Shivanand and Karan Vasudeva join the team of ‘Book Man’ sharing perspectives from practice in schools and home around the library. Book Man, Borges writes, is rumoured to be one of the librarians who has found the cipher, the perfect compendium to all the books that allows us to see what books can do.  We bring that to you in our offering of Torchlight.

Our unabashed optimism with Torchlight is tempered by the reminder that “unbridled hopefulness was succeeded, naturally enough by a similarly disproportionate depression.” (ibid., 70)1 and this comes through in On the Same Page by Beena Choksi and her leading us to review “The Obsolete Man” in these troubling times.

Borges writes in reference to finding THE book, “If honor and wisdom and joy of such a reading are not to be my own, then let them be for others” ( ibid.,72)1. What Borges implies is that we keep searching and we keep reading in our quest for the book and we do this because we believe ‘the’ book exists and this is most relevant in the review of ‘The Girl Who Ate Books’ by Neha Yadav.

For all of us at Torchlight, a Journal of Libraries and Bookish Love, we subscribe to the belief, “…yet that the library- enlightened, solitary, infinite, perfectly unmoving, armed with precious volumes, pointless, incorruptible, and secret – will endure.” (ibid.,73)1  So we touch on the wonder and mystery of books in  the poem,  ‘Magic’ an audio podcast produced  by Niju Mohan and Samina Mishra’s video ‘A Library is like…

If you like what you read here, please consider supporting Torchlight, a Journal of Libraries and Bookish Love by subscribing to it and staying in touch with us for future collaborations.

Like Borges, my solitude is cheered by that elegant hope (ibid.,74)1

Sujata Noronha

March, 2017


  1. Fictions, Penguin, 2000

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