In response to:
The Vanished Library from the September 27, 1990 issue
To the Editors:
It is a pity that the very instructive letter of Bernard Lewis about my book The Vanished Library [NYR, September 27, 1990] is based on the review of Professor Lloyd-Jones rather than on the book itself. At the beginning of Part II (“The Sources”), Chapter 1 (“Gibbon”), every reader will find all the data about the doubtful story that the great library was destroyed by order of the Caliph Umar.
Hugh Lloyd-Jones replies:
Of course Professor Canfora quotes Gibbon, and neither Professor Lewis nor I implied that he did not. But after looking back at his disappointing book, I find it hard to make out whether he accepted the story that the Arabs destroyed the library or not, so confusing is his arrangement.
March 7, 1991