ABSTRACT

The study explores the social and political role of Czech home libraries during the communist era (1948–1989). Analyses of qualitative data from existing oral history reading projects and methodological impulses of memory studies serve as grounds for multiple interpretations of this specific role. Home libraries can be considered as a counterreaction to the official propaganda and to regular purges of politically unsuitable books from public libraries; a reflection of building up alternatives to the centrally controlled public sphere; and perhaps even as a form of book consumers’ need for hoarding as a reaction to the shortage of desirable volumes on the state-operated book market. However, we argue that the persistent position of Czech home libraries as the depository of social and cultural capital can be traced in the enduring, nearly cultic veneration of the book and reading in the Czech book owners’ book memory.

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