On the recommendation of Mike from vitia (hi, Mike!), I've been reading John Crowley's indescribable sort-of-fantasy, sort-of-alternate-history Aegypt Cycle. It's a series of novels about, among other things, a historian who becomes convinced that behind the tantalizing fragments of Renaissance mysticism that he keeps stumbling over, there lies "more than one history of the world." It's also about actual historical figures, particularly John Dee and Giordano Bruno; and about memory, and the occult memory systems that people (especially Bruno) created at the time. (I got into some of the same territory when I wrote my dissertation, so I was geekily overjoyed when I realized someone had actually written fiction inspired by Frances Yates's work.)
I just finished reading The Solitudes, the first novel in the series, and started Love & Sleep, the second. Near the end of The Solitudes is a section that imagines Giordano Bruno's early years in his Dominican order in the mid-16th century, which I can't resist quoting, because the appeal to my librarianish sensibilities is far too strong:
Like many monkish libraries, San Domenico's was a midden of a thousand years' writing; no one knew all that the monastery contained, or what had become of all that the monks had copied, bought, written, commented on, given away, and collected over centuries. The old librarian, Fra' Benedetto, had a long catalogue in his head, which he could remember because he had composed it in rhyme, but there were books that weren't in this catalogue because they didn't rhyme. There was a Memory Palace in which all the categories of books and all the subdivisions of those categories had places, but it had long ago filled up and been shuttered and abandoned. There was a written catalogue to, into which every book was entered as it was acquired, and if you happened to know when a book was acquired, you might find it there. Unless, that is, it had been bound with another, or several others; for usually only the incipit of the first would be put into the catalogue. The others were lost.
So within the library that Fra' Benedetto and the prior and the abbot knew about there had grown up another library, a library that those who read in it did not catalogue, and did not want catalogued.
Bruno becomes the unofficial librarian of the "secret library of San Domenico," keeping track of the hidden collection of heretical books:
But that's just one strand among many. I can't wait to find out how they all eventually converge.