Centering on his relationship with Gertrud Bing from 1958 until her death in 1964 — as well as, to a lesser extent, on his relationship with Ernst Gombrich — the author recalls his informal induction during those years into a tradition of thought and an intellectual climate that Aby Warburg had embodied in the Institute and Library that he founded in Hamburg. The Institute is described as existing, during the late 1950s and early 1960s in London, less as a formal institution than as the interaction of some two dozen émigrés with what the author describes as “the intention of the books” and the Library's “frame of mind.” The essay — which is a somewhat revised excerpt from the author's memoir Episodes: A Memorybook (2010) — goes on to detail various habits of classification in the Warburg Library's arrangement and to show how these have entailed assumptions about how the human world works.

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