TO HAVE AND TO HOLD "is to the history of collecting what Lytton Strachey's EMINENT VICTORIANS is to the Victorian age: not the most thorough treatment, but the most fun." It is a completely engrossing, idiosyncratic, ruminative, meandering, delightful, episodic exploration of the collecting mind from mediaeval times to the present - full of eccentrics, visionaries, heroes and nutcases. It is, like Alberto Manguel's A HISTORY OF READING or Charles Sprawson's THE HAUNTS OF THE BLACK MASSEUR, itself something of a work of art.
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Blom makes for a macabre, if knowledgeable guide, as he takes us from the Renaissance cabinets of curiosities...up to present day. -- The Independent Magazine
Blom's text delights in extremists and obsessives, men who would cheat, steal, kill or marry to feed or finance their habit. -- The Guardian
He makes you rethink yourself in a civilised style, if not comfortably unsettle your view of the world. -- Spectator
I read Blom's largely anecdotal survey with the morbid fascination that a hypochrondriac brings to a medical handbook. -- The Guardian
‘A beautifully written, fascinating, amusing, astonishing account, which illuminates the strangeness of the human mind and the wonder of the world’ -- A. C. Grayling, Financial Times
‘A marvellous book … crammed nearly to bursting with arcane facts and descriptions of bizarre, exquisite objects’ -- Jerome Boyd Maunsell, Evening Standard
‘Astonishing … a positive rogues’ gallery … relishing the dramas, oddities and moments of high comedy’ -- Jenny Uglow, The Times Literary Supplement
‘Brilliant in the most exact sense, it gives off constant rays of illumination’ -- Bevis Hillier, Literary Review
‘Glorious … sparkling, discursive and eclectic’ -- Sue Gaisford, Independent on Sunday
Philipp Blom has written two novels and is a widely published journalist. He has worked as an historian and a book editor.
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