For every book there is a smell,
a smell that is level with the meaning,
or the first impression of the book.
Then what is the smell of books –
on dusty shelves,
in forgotten house libraries,
unprofitable bookshops of the capital?
What do books of Nobel laureats smell like?
Books of old masters smell of parchment,
of those pages that have disappeared – maybe they
will be gone when we open pale covers.
Their books come down to yelow pages.
The books of scribomaniacs smell of the toil of printing
workers. At workers’ universities – books
don’t have smells, they are usually red and untouched.
What do books of my friends smell like?
What is the smell of world best-sellers, cookbooks,
manuals, instructions for better concentration?
(I don’t like books that give off the smell of smoke:
vices have been mixed into them.) What do
holy books smell like, in holy languages of the world?
What about the ones in excinct languages?
The books of pagans face the sun,
that is why they lose their characteristic when we approach them.
No smell in harmless.
The ownership of a booklovers does not resemble
any book for the matter.
Abandoned books in offices
smell like old painting canvases.
The strangest smell is that of books in
the Argentine National Library,
especially of those published after 1995.
I don’t know what books of prisoners
smell of, probably of damp walls
and the past. What do collected classical works smell like?
What is the smell of books that were returned to
Knut Hamsun? His books what do they smell like?
I cherish the smell of one book,
Precious like the knowledge of German.
Translated by Ulvija Tanovic
from Pavle Goranović’s e-book