Not all books have been unpacked yet, but the Wilhelm Salber Library, which is being built in these weeks, already shows a number of interesting departments and groupings. We take this as an opportunity to open a new series on this website: "Reports from the private library Wilhelm Salbers". In loose intervals colleagues will take one or more books and introduce them briefly. In time, this will provide an overview of this unique and valuable collection, which represents the cultural universe of its former owner.

A visit from Werner Pohlmann
Recently Dirk Blothner invited me to visit the Wilhelm Salber Library in Zülpicher Straße in Cologne, which is currently under construction. I was curious to meet Wilhelm Salber and wanted to find out personally what is expressed by him in the library today.

First I see shelves full of books reaching up to the ceiling and next to them a lot of boxes of books that have not been unpacked yet. Then I come into further rooms in which there are also already full shelves. Dirk Blothner and I walk along the shelves, discovering what you have in your library and "Ah, I always wanted to read that!

Then I was overcome with curiosity to look into such books, from which small pieces of paper were sticking out. What was he interested in? Would that give me access to his work? I randomly pick out a book. It's by a French writer unknown to me, André Maurois, entitled "Dreamers and Thinkers", in which the author writes about various other writers. I open the page with the first piece of paper and find a chapter entitled "Heretics", a subject dealt with by the English writer Chesterton, whom the author quotes as follows

"What do I care whether Mr. Rudyard Kipling is a great artist or a strong personality, I am only interested in him as a heretic, that is, in so far as his views have the audacity to differ from mine?

Hasn't Wilhelm Salber in some way also been a "heretic"? But he was also a romantic and about this term I could read a few pages further:

"The true romantic is born where a person is compelled to take upon himself the compulsion of things and of doing. ... What gives life its charm is the natural limitation, the compulsion to withstand events that we could not foresee.

This could be continued from this book, but there we were already in the next room and with the books by and about Goethe. Here, too, I simply opened a book of Goethe's scientific writings and found a short definition of morphology from his estate, which I would like to quote here:

It rests on the conviction that everything that is must also indicate and show itself. From the first physical and chemical elements to the spiritual expression of man, we let this principle apply.
We're about to turn to what's in shape. The inorganic, the vegetative, the animal, the human suggests everything to itself, it appears as what it is to our outer, our inner sense.
The figure is a moving, a becoming, a passing one. The theory of Gestalt is the theory of transformation. The doctrine of metamorphosis is the key to all the signs of nature."

Wilhelm Salber has developed this program of Goethe's psychological morphology. And so we can also feel in this library something of what such a work must go through in its creation.