Guido Gezelle devoured books. He kept an enormous library. Now there are approximately 1300 books left.
There are approximately 1300 books left from Gezelle's personal library. The books that Gezelle owned at the time of his death in 1899 are only a small part of the original library. There are linguistic books, works on Germanic and foreign folklore and also religious and educational works. The books date from the 19th century, but there are also a lot of older works. Gezelle was not a bibliophile. He considered his books to be utensils. Many older books contain traces of use: Gezelle underlined words or fragments to incorporate them in poetry or in his language collections. Nephew Caesar Gezelle testifies:
“He read old books, they were mostly written in the old Flemish language, and had a parchment or calf-leather cover. He read slowly, enjoying himself, devouring the books so intensely that he was unconsciously scratching his bare skull with his fingernails causing a bleeding. Whilst he was reading, and coming across one of those old words, rich and healthy, in the written language but still on people’s lips, he took his pencil and underlined his word, his treasure, with a deep pleasure and then he read on to do the same thing over again.”