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Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Nicolás Gómez Dávila

Bogotá 1913 - 1994

Colombian philosopher and moralist who developed out of university and relatively late a work mostly fragmentary in the form of aphorisms that he preferred to give the name of “scholia” (escolios). Some have not hesitated to present him as a “Colombian Nietzsche” although his religious thought constantly refers to the Tridentine Catholicism. His fascination with the ancient Greco-Roman and Germanic Middle Ages, its aristocratic philosophy and scathing critique of modernity, however, could in fact be closer to the hermit of Sils-Maria. Often labeled as a conservative thinker or “ultra-conservative”, because of its antidemocratic thought, he preferred to call himself “authentic reactionary” totally alien to his time. Son of good Colombian family, at theage of six he moved to Paris with his parents enrolled him in a Benedictine college. During his adolescence he suffered severe pneumonia that confined him to bed for two years, time during which he must follow the course of tutors and take the opportunity to deepen his Greek and Latin. At 23, he returned to Colombia and marries Emilia Ramos Nietos. He will recross the Atlantic only in 1948 to make a tour of Europe by car for six months with his wife. Then, he basically dedicate its library will reach nearly 30,000 volumes, reflection and writing on accounting records in the manner of Lichtenberg’s Sudelbücher. “His library was his world” could tell his daughter Rosa Emila. “When he fell sick, we down his bed in the library. He died among his books”.

Main works: Notas (Mexico, 1954, republication Bogotá, Villegas 200), Textos (Mexico, 1959, republication Bogotá, Villegas 200) and Escolios a un texto implícito, 2 volumes (Bogotá, 1977), Nuevos escolios a un texto implícito, 2 volumes (Bogotá, 1986), Succesivos escolios a un texto implícito (Bogotá, 1992, Bogotá, Villegas, 2005).  

Bibliography: Abad Torres Alfredo, Pensar lo implícito: en torno a Gómez Dávila, Pereira, CRIE, 2008 ; « Nicolás Gómez Dávila : Crítica e Interpretación », Paradoxa, n. 14, Universidad Tecnológica de Pereira, 2007 ; Studia daviliana : études sur Nicolás Gómez Dávila, réunies par Philippe Billé, La Croix Comtesse, automne 2003 ; Gómez Rosa Emilia, « Entrevista », El Tiempo, Bogotá, 04/03/2006.

Fonds Gómez Dávila

The Nicolás Gómez Dávila Library’s was purchased by the Bank of the Republic of Colombia in 2009, the owner of the Luis Angel Arango Library who is in charge of and put it to the public and researchers since April 2011. The daughter of the philosopher, Rosa Emilia Gómez Restrepo, had previously performed an unclassified inventory of books, according to their position in the library, faithful to the personal order of his owner. For convenience of reading this inventory has been restored here in alphabetical order by author, followed by the title and the number of volumes. The Gómez Dávila Collection is also available online on the Luis Angel Arango library’s website stating in advanced search “Colección Gómez Dávila” which allows to find the publisher and date of publication.
Gómez Dávila Collection has exactly 16,935 titles corresponding to 27,582 volumes mainly in French, English and German, but also, to a lesser extent, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese, and Greek and Latin. The publishing period most represented is the twentieth century, followed by the eighteenth and nineteenth. There are also works of the seventeenth, sixteenth, and even some of the fifteenth century including incunabula. History is the most represented discipline (a large section on history of religions, the Greco-Roman civilization and the French Revolution), followed by literature, poetry and philosophy. The original editions of the works of Gómez Dávila are available, and some of their translations into German, Italian, French and Polish, as well as typescripts of Escolios a un texto implícito (3 volumes, 1976) and their partial and commented transcription by Ernesto Volkening including many unpublished (5 notebooks, 1973).
This is
an exceptional collection, witch Arnold Toynbee believed it was probably “the largest private library in the world”, maybe not so much for the quantity as the quality: it contain the entire Western intellectual heritage with some bibliophile rarities. Some are known as the “treasure of the Andes” but probably it is also of Europe. 

Studies on the library : Badui-Quesada Halim, « Apuntes para una biblioteca imaginaria: valor patrimonial y situación legal de las bibliotecas de Bernardo Mendel y Nicolás Gómez Dávila », Revista Interamericana Bibliotecología, Medellín, vol. 30, n. 1, enero-junio 2007 ; Molano Guzmán, Rafael, « La pasión por los libros. Nicolás Gómez Dávila », Diners, Bogotá, abril 1997; Pizano Diego, « Don Nicolás y su biblioteca », El Espectador, Bogotá, 22/05/2009 ; Rabier Michaël, « Biblioteca gomezdaviliania. La fuentes bibliográficas del pensamiento de Nicolás Gómez Dávila (I)  », forthcoming; « Se busca un lector », Semana, Bogotá, 30/11/1998 ; Zalamea Alberto, « Te bautizo con B mayor », La Tadeo, n. 65, 2001.  

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Michaël Rabier (Institut Hannah Arendt, Université Paris-Est)
last modify: 2013-07-08 22:37:21