The basic concept of the future library project is a forest has been planted in Norway, which will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be printed in one hundred years’ time. Between now and then, one writer every year will contribute a text, with the writings held in trust, unpublished, until 2114.
This is such an amazing concept – having books for selected authors been hidden for 100 years before being printed. Some of the authors that have been revealed, include Margaret Atwood and David Mitchell, although I am skeptical as to whether this would work in practice, however very few of us will be around to see it anyway.
The texts will be held in a specially designed room in the New Public Deichmanske Library, Oslo. Tending the forest and ensuring its preservation for the 100-year duration of the artwork finds a conceptual counterpoint in the invitation extended to each writer: to conceive and produce a work in the hopes of finding a receptive reader in an unknown future.
Each author – their names revealed year by year, are chosen by a panel of experts and Paterson, while she is alive – will make the trek to the spot in the forest high above Oslo, where they will surrender their manuscripts in a short ceremony.
Mitchell said he found writing the book:
“quite liberating, because I won’t be around to take the consequences of this being good, or bad…”
Contributors to Future Library can write whatever they wish – poems, short stories, novels or non-fiction – in any language. The only thing asked of them is that they do not speak about their writing, show it to anyone, and that they deliver one hard copy and one digital copy at the handover ceremony in Oslo.
One reason I absolutely love this concept is the writers are not bound by the constraints and taboos of our time and socialite mind set, meaning the authors have more freedom in their writing which could make for some highly entertaining and interesting reading. Sadly though most of us won’t be alive to read these novels – unless you are alive in 2114.
Future Library creator Paterson, whose past works have involved her mapping dead stars and compiling a slide archive of the history of darkness through the ages, asked the writers to tackle
“the theme of imagination and time, which they can take in so many directions”.
His manuscript, now delivered, will be sealed and placed alongside Atwood’s in a wood-lined room in Oslo’s new public library, which will open in 2019. Watched over by a trust of experts until it is finally printed, it is now, says the novelist,
“as gone from me as a coin dropped in a river”.
I have read the Cloud Atlas, I have read a few books by Margaret Atwood, and I can’t wait to see what others authors will be revealed. If I ever go travelling I will make a point of stopping of at Oslo’s public library which will open in 2019. I will also make a point of telling my children and grandchildren about the Future Library Project so they can read the books I won’t be alive to read, in a way it’s preserving a whole generation/decades of literary for the future generations.
And this is something we should all be on board with – whether it works in practice or not.
Read The Guardian’s article on the matter, here.