mercredi 4 septembre 2013

Chile: The Secret Library of Augusto Pinochet*.

When I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver!**

         Dictators of the World did not end to surprise us. Many are aware of their intellectual mediocrity, other are surrounded by brilliant intellectuals who become their heralds failing to be emulated or scapegoat. Others become intellectual luminaries by the magic of absolute power by aligning primers in "Literary Success", others less courageous, hide their inferiority complex in the air of self-sufficiency. But why do they need to look brilliant when their public actions betray their shortcomings daily? All have one thing in common: their intellectual emptiness and their distrust (or hate) vis-à- vis of women and men of letters.

A dead writers, their works for me !

Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte (25 November 1915-10 December 2006), who burned the books in the street and sent writers in prison or in exile, secretly amassed a huge library of over 50,000 volumes, according to the survey of a Chilean journalist .
"The secret literary life of Augusto Pinochet," just published and already bestseller Chile, by journalist Juan Cristóbal Peña tells how General has collected books compulsively.
No poetry or fiction. The library contains mainly books of history, geography and Marxism, the ideology that sought to destroy in the most brutal repression during his years in power (1973-1990 ).
The monumental collection "was a kind of theater that Pinochet played himself, to represent an important and cultivated man", Peña analysis, in an interview with AFP, because he "was aware of the background himself of his intellectual mediocrity".

50,000 books, valued at over three million dollars!

Distributed in second homes, the existence of the library was known in 2004, along with the discovery of the hidden fortune of Pinochet, estimated at more than $ 20 million and stored in banks in the United States.
"It is amazing that this character supposed to read little or nothing, uncultivated in appearance, has owned this private library which is one of the largest in Chile and perhaps in Latin America", notes Peña Investigation judicial totaled about 50,000 pounds , conservatively estimated by Peña, more than three million.
Most of the works were acquired by the former dictator in old bookstores downtown Santiago and the State funds. Among the most valuable works are collected by Pinochet "The historical narrative of the Kingdom of Chile", written by the Jesuit Alonso de Ovalle in the seventeenth century, and two copies, dating from 1733 and 1776 "La Araucana", an epic poem on the conquest Spanish in Chile, by Alonso de Ercilla, considered as the epic kingdom of Chile and one of the most important works of the Spanish golden Age.
The library also contains encyclopedias, atlases and dictionaries as well as many French books on Marxism and Napoleon -his idol- as well as books of Chilean history, his favorite subject, says Peña.

Whole boxes of unopened books !

Experts who examined the contents of the library were also found entire boxes of unopened books, works unsorted and "thousands of rare books in a jumble of trinkets, souvenirs, chocolates and personal belongings" notes the book.
According to Pena, Pinochet collected books compulsively and feels almost impossible that he has read all. He did not share either, and would not let anyone approach libraries.
His obsession is explained by an inferiority complex , according to the author. "He explained himself to be someone who had difficulties to study. He missed twice considering military school and suffered from severe headaches when he was studying too", said Peña.
In contrast, some of his classmates as General Carlos Prats, his predecessor as head of the armies of Chile, murdered by the secret police of the dictatorship was brilliant and admired.

Pinochet knew he was despised by his peers.

"Pinochet knew he was despised by his peers. When he took power (after the coup of 11 September 1973) , it is hard to eliminate those who could overshadow him", said the reporter.
Some of the books confiscated by the dictatorship then fell into the hands of booksellers who sold them later to Pinochet" which brought together a large collection of texts on Marxism and left",  according to Peña .
Pinochet has never been to the library catalog and expertise of justice was limited to the analysis of a sample of his collection, so that "we'll never get to know what books and how books" really possessed Pinochet, according to the journalist.
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* Article by Roser Toll in AFP , 27 June 2013.

*Baldur Benedikt von Schirach (1907-1974) led the opposition in the Hitler Youth in 1931 and during the first seven years of the NAZI regim from 1933 to 1940.

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