I have recently become obsessed with gargoyles and grotesques who are reading. (Possibly I feel kinship to them.) While doing research on collegiate gargoyles and grotesques a few months ago, I realized how many colleges and universities have at least one sculpture of someone reading a book. Both people and animals are shown in this studious pursuit, and they are charming without a single exception. These stone readers make such a nice contrast to the misbehaving gothic figures I’ve been reading so much about recently.
The William Rainey Harper Memorial Library at the University of Chicago was built in 1912 in memory of the university’s first president. Besides being one of the most beautiful and inviting libraries I can imagine – enjoy the pictures here – it is home to a pair of professorial gentlemen reading on its front façade. The figure shown above peers intently down at his tome through his little, round glasses, while the one shown below seems to have fallen asleep or perhaps into some sort of philosophical trance.
Neither of the men seem to pay any attention to the snow falling on them. As the University of Chicago alumnus who took these lovely photos put it on his blog, “inclement weather must be of no concern when there is thinking to be done. They are eternal, guardians of the library too distracted with their studies to notice who passes by or whether those passersby notice them or even if the moss has grown thick or if the snow has covered their tonsures. May we all find something so engaging in life.” I completely agree.