Theodore Dalrymple has a splendid piece in the Spectator on the "malevolence" of book sellers and the sort of threat faced by Prof. Peter Kien in Elias Canetti's Auto-Da-Fe. Here's a sample:
"I have the not altogether unsatisfying impression that civilisation is collapsing around me. Is it my age, I wonder, or the age we live in? I am not sure. Civilisations do collapse, after all, but on the other hand people grow old with rather greater frequency."