Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hidden Campus -- Firestone: Exposed

To the outside world, Firestone Library is a rather elusive entity. The same, however, could still be said of the many students who congregate at the library’s underground floors and study areas, but are still rather unaware of the many treasures it contains. The walls, hallways, and sitting areas are filled with artwork and details which help define Firestone. These many non-literary objects are allegorical to many different areas of knowledge, somehow interconnected to the information found in the myriad of texts that stack the building. They inspire some type of intellectual curiosity, interesting epiphany, or even a quick chuckle. Since pictures of the library are impermissible, here is a brief description of a few treasure spots in Firestone:

1) “Memorable Moments in Princeton History”: A display containing historical documents, pictures, and ancient college memorabilia that illustrate the university’s history. It ends with the snapshot of a 2001 issue of Esquire magazine, where Princeton students posed in designer clothes for a fashion spread entitled “This Side of Paradise”.

2) Greek Mosaic: Found at the foot of the stairs arriving at the A level, this is very noticeable but few students ever stop to read its caption. The mosaic was obtained from an excavation of The House of the Sun Dial at Daphne, in Antioch, Greece. It dates back to the 3rd century AD.

3) Statue of Edgar Allan Poe & The Raven: Located in the C level, next to the English Language Program’s offices, it is by Olof BjÖrkman. It makes reference to “The Raven”, a poem published by the illustrious American writer in 1845. If you are looking for an ominous narrative with an elaborately musical rhyme scheme, this is would be an interesting read.

4) Statue of the “Head of Balzac”: Sculpted by Auguste Rondin, it is a depiction of Honoré de Balzac, the great 19th century French writer and author of The Human Comedy –a compilation of 95 short stories, essays and novels that depict societal life in post-revolutionary France. A very extensive but multi-faceted work that should be interesting to all students of French literature.

These are only a few of the many objects which one can serendipitously come across in Firestone. Next time you talk a walk through the library, see what you come across –maybe it will spark something you’ve never considered before.


Anonymous said...

There's also a walled-off staircase that can be seen on the 3rd floor, a stone from Oxford (or maybe it was Cambridge) and a staircase that leads up to the rather secluded 4th floor.