Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Eternal Passion: Nicholas A. Basbanes and the Making of A Gentle Madness. A Video Tour


Pandemic or not, there is still room for celebration.  Currently on view by appointment is the exhibition at the Cushing Library at Texas A&M University, “The Eternal Passion: Nicholas A Basbanes and the Making of A Gentle Madness.”  The exhibition was originally planned for a March launch but delayed by the Pandemic.  A much-anticipated opening day event featuring Nick Basbanes himself had to be cancelled.  Nonetheless, curator Kevin O’Sullivan was determined to keep the exhibition available.  The exhibition was rescheduled and is now running from Aug. 3rd – Nov. 30, 2020.

This is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the publication of A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books.  Basbanes’ work on bibliophiles and book collecting is now considered a classic.  But it almost didn’t get published.  O’Sullivan does a magnificent job selecting material from the Basbanes archive at the Cushing and other sources to present a well-rounded look at the making of A Gentle Madness.   He also highlights Basbanes’ career generally with material about his later publications.

I contributed a number of items to the exhibition.  I was also scheduled to speak at the opening event.  So, the cancellation affected me personally.  When the exhibition reopened, I arranged a tour for myself and wife Nicole with Kevin O’Sullivan.  Also present were Francesca Marini and Beth Kilmarx of the Cushing Library.  Nicole videoed the tour.  It is not a professional production, but she captures Kevin’s talk and our banter, along with a detailed look at the material on display.  May this serve as an imperfect but entertaining record of an exhibition that faced unprecedented challenges.

Link to video:

Basbanes Exhibition. Cushing Library. Sept. 2020. Kurt & Nicole Zimmerman with Kevin O'Sullivan

Here are details about the exhibition and how to see it in person.

Basbanes Exhibition Information


  1. I was so looking forward the the opening of this exhibit! I had taken a vacation day and scouted a first printing of AGM for a hopeful inscription. I was bummed to learn the opening had been canceled. AGM is one of my favorite reads and is already a classic. I can guarantee in another 75 years it will be at the top of any bibliophile's books on books reading list. Thanks to you and Nicole for the vid, and thanks to Nick for writing a fantastic book. Almost like I was there. -d

  2. Kurt- thank you (AND your wife Nicole) for taking the time to video the exhibit as it provides us with the only way to see it. Any chance you will finish your world travels soon - having that private corporate jet must to be nice to avoid Covid flight issues- and get back to publishing on your Blog. No pressure. But we are bored at home and looking for free entertainment. LOL. Hope all it well.

  3. Thanks for the kind comments and watching the video. My world travels have been confined to my office chair and the cataloging of new acquisitions! Perhaps if I didn't buy so many books I could fly aboard that private jet. In the meantime, I'm about to ramp up my posts so expect more soon. Also, I have a book of essays coming out in a couple of months.