THE BRITISH LIBRARY

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39 posts categorized "Acquisitions"

27 March 2017

Hommage to the French Resistance: two recently donated books

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Dr Catherine Delano-Smith, former reader in historical geography at the University of Nottingham, and now Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Historical Research in the School of Advanced Studies at the University of London, donated two books to the British Library in spring 2015 relating to the French Resistance and its fighters in the Second World War.

The books originally came from the library of AndrĂ© Canivez (1909-1981), professor of philosophy at the University of Strasbourg. AndrĂ© Canivez was related to Dr Delano-Smith by marriage, as her mother’s sister was his second wife, Mouza Raskolnikov. Her first husband was Fedor Raskolnikov (1892-1939), a Bolshevik and eminent Russian politician who went into exile to France in 1938 and died the following year in unclear circumstances. Mouza had spent the rest of the Second World War hiding in the Massif Central at Treignac. She married Canivez at the end of the hostilities and moved to Strasbourg with him. André Canivez had been a prisoner of war and taken to a camp when France capitulated; he survived his POW camp experiences but was left in very poor health.

Dr Delano-Smith and her mother visited the couple and, after her mother’s death in 1978, Catherine returned to Strasbourg regularly to visit Mouza, who was by then suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. After Mouza’s death, Catherine inherited part of AndrĂ© Canivez’s library and decided to donate the above books. She supplemented them with a photograph of an unnamed French Resistance fighter (without a blindfold) taken just before his execution. She feels that this picture was of significant importance to AndrĂ© Canivez as it used to hang in his study. This picture has always been a mystery and despite extensive research it has never been possible to identify the man.

French Resistance Temoins half-title
Half-title page of  Les TĂ©moins qui se firent Egorger ([s.l.], 1946)  RF.2015.b.32

The first donation, entitled Les TĂ©moins qui se firent Egorger, is an account of conditions in the concentration camps in Germany and Poland, and also of life in the French Resistance. It is a touching tribute to all those who died in horrific circumstances. The book is enriched with many photographs, none too horrific to look at but sufficient to bring home the terrible conditions these men and women endured. As well as many anonymous pictures there are also tributes to specific Resistance fighters who fought for their country. In addition to the current edition, 500 copies were printed for the families of the deceased. The A4 size photograph has been inserted in the British Library copy at the request of Dr Delano-Smith.

French Resistance Temoins women
Portraits of women from the Resistance who died in the RavensbrĂŒck concentration camp, from Les TĂ©moins qui se firent Egorger

The second donation, Geoles Allemandes (Loos 1942-1943) (Avesnes-sur-Help, 1945) is a fictionalised account by Dr Denis Cordonnier, who was detained in the prison of Loos in northern France for a year and released before the end of the war. Whilst in prison he had promised his fellow Resistance prisoners that if he was released he would write a novel testifying to their sufferings but also celebrating the bravery and patriotism of these men who had been ready to give their lives for their country. Geoles Allemandes (Loos 1942-1943) is the fruit of this promise. Names were changed, but events and characters closely reflected reality. The story is narrated by a Dr Duval who through his practitioner’s experience, his commitment to the Resistance, and his shrewd analysis of the human mind, is the perfect person to depict the effect of incarceration on the prisoners at Loos. Without lapsing into pathos, it is a very sensitive and realistic account.

 French Resistance geoles allemandes1   French Resistance geoles allemandes (Canivez)
Cover and title-page (inscribed to André Canivez), from, Geoles Allemandes (Loos 1942-1943) (Avesnes-sur-Help, 1945)

These two donations were very timely, coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War and are a valuable addition to the British Library’s French literature of the war. These two volumes are not only a poignant testimony to the horrors of the Second World War, but also a celebration of the Maquisards and a reminder of how much France owes to the French Resistance.

Annick Mann, Quality Assurance, Content and Metadata Processing

09 December 2016

Vincent Cabot, a 16th-century Jurist from Toulouse

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Vincent Cabot (c. 1560-1620) was a jurist from Toulouse who became a professor of canon and civil law at Orléans University before going back to Toulouse where he became President of the Parliament.

1 Cabot Tumulus tp
Title page of Vincent Cabot Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis ViolÊi... tumulus (Orléans, 1592) British Library 1230.c.32
.

The British Library holds two of his works, including his contribution to a collection of epitaphs in memory of Michel Viole, a Bible scholar who died in 1591 and was for thirty years abbot of Saint-Euverte of OrlĂ©ans. The printed work, entitled Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis ViolĂŠi... tumulus, published by Saturnin and Fabien Hotot in OrlĂ©ans in 1592, records eulogies read during the abbot’s four days funeral, led by Jean de l’Aubespine, Bishop of the city.

2 Cabot Tumulus 2
Hebrew inscription, and opening of Cabot’s funeral oration for Michel Viole, from Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis Violéi... tumulus.

Vincent Cabot’s Latin funeral oration, written in prose, is the first text of the compilation, and displays the author’s learning in honour of the deceased. The mise en page of the eulogy, with marginal references in italic, highlights Cabot’s learned references to Latin and Greek authors as well as the Scriptures.

3 Cabot Tumulus sonnets
Sonnets from Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis ViolĂŠi... tumulus

The whole collection of epitaphs is skilfully printed with different typescripts and ornamental woodcuts, and makes a creative use of italics and capitals, which highlight the wealth and variety of the contributions. A hundred scholars from OrlĂ©ans have contributed pieces in Hebrew, Latin, Greek, French, Gascon, Flemish and Italian. The volume includes two well-designed fold-out pages displaying a tomb inscribed with epitaphs.

4 Cabot Tumulus fold-out
One of the fold-out pages from Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis ViolĂŠi... tumulus

Vincent Cabot’s Variarum Juris Publici et Privati Disputationum was printed in two distinct editions in Paris (by Claude de Monstr’oeil and Jean RichĂ©) and Hanau (Germany) in 1598. The copy of the Paris edition recently acquired by the British library, preserved in its original white soft vellum binding, comes from the dispersal of the Early European collections of the Los Angeles Law library, which were sold at auction by Bonhams in London in March and May 2014.

5 Cabot Variarum tp
Title page of Vincent Cabot, Variarum Juris Publici et Privati Disputationum (Paris, 1598). RB.23.a.36826

Cabot’s prefatory epistle is dedicated to Petrus Faber, Pierre Du Faur de Saint-Jorry, who was president of theToulouse Parliament before Vincent Cabot, and called him back from OrlĂ©ans to Toulouse as a law professor. Cabot’s work deals with contemporary political issues, including the relation between the monarchy and the Church (e.g. the role of kings in the election of bishops), and royal succession (e.g. the right of women to inherit the crown).

6 Cabot Variarum dedication
Dedication to Petrus Faber, from Variarum Juris Publici et Privati Disputationum

A further work by Cabot, Les Politiques was published posthumously in Toulouse in 1630 by LĂ©onard Campistron, who dedicated the book to Cardinal Richelieu. Cabot makes a profuse use of lay and religious authorities, in particular Jean Bodin’s RĂ©publique and NiccolĂČ Machiavelli. A learned scholar and jurist, Cabot is a pioneer of political science and promotes in his work a centralised and moderate monarchy.

IrĂšne Fabry-Tehranchi, Curator Romance collections

7 Cabot Variarum index
Pages frrom Variarum Juris Publici et Privati Disputationum

05 December 2016

The Brothers Jovanović National Library

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In 1920 the Serbian Legation in London donated 250 small size unbound fascicles of Serbian literature to the British Museum Library. This donation was a welcome addition to the Library Serbian collections, which then consisted hardly of a few hundreds Serbian literary works.

These issues were part of a collection of Serbian literature published in Pančevo, a small town in the then Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, from 1871 to 1912. The works were published by the Brothers Jovanović, Kamenko (1843-1916) and Pavle (1847-1914), printers and booksellers from Pančevo. In 1870 the Brothers Jovanović established a Serbian printing-press, and in 1872 a bookshop in their hometown. Their aim was to publish and sell Serbian school textbooks and literature, the long awaited educational and cultural needs of the Serbian people in Austro-Hungary.

The Brothers Jovanović’s bookshop was the first major Serbian publishing bookshop in the Monarchy, and with the bookshops funded earlier in Belgrade, in the neighbouring Princedom of Serbia, were the first to establish modern Serbian publishing and book trade.

Between 1871 and 1912 the Brothers Jovanović published about 400 Serbian titles of which about 100 were school textbooks.
The collection of works donated to the Library had been published in the series called: “The Brothers Jovanović National Library” from 1880 to 1890.

NBBJCover

 Front cover of a volume in the series. The Brothers Jovanović National Library. Jovan Rajić, Battle of Dragon and Eagles. (Pančevo, 1884). British Library 012265.e.5/44.

Above is the layout of the cover of the Brothers Jovanović National Library series: their bookshop was shown here as a cultural edifice built on the pantheon of Serbian and world literature presented and promoted in this series. Front of their national library are the Corinthian columns adorned in ribbons bearing the names of the greats of Serbian and world literature (the text in Cyrillic on the left column reads: Dositej, Kraszewski, Hugo, the right column bear the names of: Njegoơ, Gogol and Goethe. The name of the series is inscribed across the arc which sits on the columns. In the left-hand corner is a roundel portrait of Dositej Obradović (1739-1811), a Serbian philosopher and writer, and in the right-hand corner is a roundel portrait of Prince Bishop of Montenegro Petar II Petrović Njegoơ (1813-51).

The Brothers Jovanović published literature in affordable paper-back issues in small octavo format, printed in a small font. The majority of works in the series were made up of separately published issues. These were published in non-consecutive instalments usually over a several-month period. Up to 24 issues were produced per year and in total the series comprises 216 such issues published from 1880 to 1890.

The set of 250 issues donated to the Library also includes issues published by the Brothers Jovanović’s bookshop from 1871 to 1912, which were subsequently added to the Brothers Jovanović National Library series (they are numbered in the series from 217 to 348), when the bookshop was sold to the new owners in 1913. This set of 250 issues is incomplete as 11 issues are missing.

The Library’s set was bound in 124 volumes placed at shelfmarks 012265.e.5/1-149 and a number of works are bound together. It is the only single set held in a British public collection, and one of the most complete in Britain and Serbia. The Library’s set holds 158 separate works. The whole collection is described in 168 catalogue records

This collection has a historical significance for the British Library as the donation notably boosted its existing collections of Serbian literature. Today this collection is relevant for the study and research into the development of modern Serbian literacy, language and literature. It is a very useful survey of primary sources for the development of Serbian literature.

Radicevic

Frontispiece and title page with the author’s portrait and his autograph. Branko Radičević, Poems. (Pančevo, 1880). British Library 012265.e.5/95.

The collection contains works of the major Serbian writers of the Enlightment, Classicism and Romanticism who, in their lexical and stylistic innovation, contributed greatly to the development and promotion of modern Serbian literary language. This new literary form was based on the principles of Vuk Stefanović KaradĆŸić’s language reform.

Pucic
Frontispiece and title page with the author’s portrait. Medo Pucić, Poems. (Pančevo, 1879 [reissued in the series 1913]). British Library 012265.e.5/101.

Đorđe Popović-Daničar, editor of the Brothers Jovanović National Library series,  saw that the modern writers of all periods and those who wrote in Russo-Slavonic and in Slavonic-Serbian were represented in the series thus showing the continuity in Serbian literature. He contributed greatly to the series by writing introductory texts, compiling works of lesser known writers, translating and transliterating from Russo-Slavonic and in Slavonic-Serbian into the contemporary Serbian language and the new orthography, and by translating from a number of major European languages. Popović-Daničar was remembered as the first translator of Don Quijote from Spanish into Serbian.

The presentation of Serbian national poetry is another strong feature of this collection.

Boj na Kosovu

 Frontispiece. From Battle of Kosovo. (Pančevo, 1880 [reissued in the series 1913]). British Library 012265.e.5/121.

A great prominence of Serbian national poetry in the series pointed not only to the significance and influence of spoken national language for the creation of the new literary language, but it also reflected the contemporary national and political aspirations and struggles in the Balkans and the rest of Europe of that period, leading up to the First World War.

Hajduci
Frontispiece. From Serbian Outlaws in National Poems. (Pančevo, 1882 [reissued in the series 1913]). British Library 012265.e.5/110.

The fact that in this series the Brothers Jovanović ventured to showcase Serbian literature, together with other works of world literature in Serbian translation, was surely a sign of confidence and trust they had for the future of the Serbian literature and its readers.

Milan Grba, Lead Curator South-East European Collections

Reference:

Ćœarko Vojnović, Iz Sparte svetlost, to jest, Ćœivot i podvizi Kamenka i Pavla braće Jovanovića: ujedno i bibliografija izdanja. (Pančevo, 2010). YF.2014.a.12874

 

28 November 2016

Stefan Zweig and the ‘Magic of Manuscripts’

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Stefan Zweig, whose birthday we mark today, was one of the world’s bestselling authors in his lifetime. In recent years his work has enjoyed something of a renaissance in the English-speaking world: his books have been rediscovered by publishers and readers (and was an inspiration for the 2014 film The Grand Budapest Hotel), and there has been a growth in academic interest in his life and work. One reflection of the latter interest is the collaborative PhD project between the British Library and the University of Bristol which began in 2014 and has seen PhD student Pardaad Chamsaz work on the aspect of Zweig which is perhaps of greatest importance to the British Library: his activity as a collector of autograph manuscripts.

Stefan Zweig in 1912 Add MS 73185.
Stefan Zweig in 1912 (from the Zweig Provenance papers, BL Add MS 73185.)

Manuscript collecting was a lifelong passion for Zweig. In the first three decades of the 20th century he built one of the finest and most admired collections in the world. When the rise of Nazism in the 1930s forced him into exile, first in Britain and finally in Brazil, he began to refine the collection, selling many items and keeping only those which had a particular significance for him. In 1986 his heirs donated the manuscripts from this final collection to the British Library in what has was justly described by the Library’s then Chairman, Lord Quinton, as “the most important and the most generous gift that the British Library has received since its foundation.”

Zweig_ms_152_r
Lines from Act I of Goethe’s Faust Part II (Zweig MS 152 f.1r)

The manuscripts now in the British Library reflect various aspects of Zweig’s life and interests. The greatest number are musical scores: Zweig had long sought solace in music from “the grime of the political stuff, the black downpour of events” (Diary, 27 October 1915), and in his years of exile he found in the abstract beauty of music a better example of art as he understood it, as a humanistic and uniting force, than the written word, especially the written word in his native German which was becoming known as the language of the Nazis.

Zweig_ms_81a_f001r
 Franz Schubert’s song ‘An die Musik’. The words by Franz von Schober express the solace Zweig himself found in music (Zweig MS 81A)

But although he collected and retained more musical than literary and historical manuscripts, Zweig did not neglect the latter. Among the literary and historical manuscripts in the collection there are some which recall Zweig’s own literary friendships – works presented to him by authors such as Émile Verhaeren (Zweig MS 193-4), Romain Rolland (Zweig MS 184-6), Rainer Maria Rilke (Zweig MS 179-80) and Sigmund Freud (Zweig MS 150), all of whom he knew personally.

Zweig_ms_179_f003r
The opening of Rilke’s Die Wiese von Liebe und Tod des Cornets Otto Rilke (Zweig MS 179, f.3r)

Freud is also an example of someone Zweig himself wrote about, along with historical figures such as Marie Antoinette (Zweig MS 171), Dostoevsky (Zweig MS 143) and Friedrich Nietzsche (Zweig MS 175), all present in the collection.

Zweig_ms_171_f001v
Letter from Marie Antoinette, Queen of France, to Count Xavier von Rosenberg, 17 April 1775 (Zweig MS. 171, f.1v)

Zweig’s interest in the act of creation is clear from many of the manuscripts, perhaps most strikingly in the proof copy of Balzac’s novel Une TĂ©nĂ©breuse Affaire, with its numerous corrections and additions, but also in, for example, poems by John Keats (Zweig MS 163) and the German Romantic writer Novalis (Zweig MS 176).

Zweig_ms_163_recto
Lines from Keats' poem ‘I stood tip-toe on a little hill' (Zweig MS 163, f.1r )

Although French and German writers predominate, the European cultural internationalism of Zweig’s outlook is clear from the scope of his collection. There are works in English, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish. Many items also recall Zweig’s love for collecting items that he felt brought him close to great figures of the past, including one surviving ‘relic’, a collection of clippings from Goethe’s hair (Zweig MS 155).

Zweig_ms_140_f021v_022r
Closing lines of Gabriele D'Annunzio's ‘La Laude di Dante', with the poet's signature (Zweig MS 140, ff.21v-22r)

The first volume of a catalogue of the British Library Stefan Zweig Collection, covering the music manuscripts (Zweig MS 1-131) was published in 1999 (2702.f.433), but for various reasons the cataloguing of the literary and historical manuscripts (Zweig MS 132-200 with some later additions) was delayed, despite the dedicated work of two now retired colleagues. One aim of the collaborative PhD project – alongside overseeing the digitisation of the literary and historical manuscripts, which can now be seen on our Digitised Manuscripts Catalogue â€“ was to help see the second volume of the printed catalogue through to publication, and we are delighted that this will appear early next year.

Zweig_ms_191_f001r
A page from Tolstoy’s novella The Kreutzer Sonata (Zweig MS 191, f.1r)

In order to celebrate this publication, and to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Zweig’s death in 1942, the Library will be mounting a display of items from the collection, ‘The Magic of Manuscripts’, in the Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Library Gallery from 21 February until 11 June 2017, and on 20 March will host a study day, ‘Stefan Zweig: European, Humanist, Collector’, followed by an evening event featuring readings and music from manuscripts in the collection and from Zweig’s own writings.

Susan Reed, Lead Curator Germanic Studies

Zweig_ms_198_f004v
Doodles in the margin, from Charles Vildrac, Le Paquebot Tenacity (Zweig MS 198, f.4v). 

22 November 2016

The philologist and the silkworm

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Rafael Bluteau (1638-1734) was born of French parents in London and spent most of his life in Portugal. His training in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Latin and Greek qualified him superbly to produce his most famous work, the VocabulĂĄrio Portuguez e Latino (Coimbra, 1712; British Library 828.i.1-8.).

Less known is this newly acquired work on the breeding and cultivation of the mulberry and the silkworm which feeds on it, the first Portuguese treatise on the subject.

Silkworms Bluteau

 Title page of Instrucçam sobre a cultura das amoreiras, & criaçaĂ” dos bichos de seda [...] pelo P. D. Rafael Bluteau (Lisbon, 1679). RB.23.a.36973

It doesn’t do to underestimate the importance of the silk trade, and the silkworm lived like a prince.

They don’t like noise, so keep them away from noisy mechanicals such as blacksmiths (p. 136). They don’t like the wet, so ensure the mulberry leaves on which they feed are kept dry (p. 151). They do like beautiful smells (incense and benzoin, p. 160) but don’t like the breath of people who’ve been eating garlic, onions or leeks (p. 162). Naturally they don’t like thunderstorms. Obviously you can’t stop the weather, but you can try to counter its effects with nice smells such as slices of ham or fried chouriço (p. 165) and by getting a large number of people to make a noise to cover up the thunder (p. 166).

Silkworms Merian

Silkworms, from Maria Sybilla Merian Der Raupen wunderbare Verwandlung und sonderbare Blumen-nÀhrung (Nuremberg, 1679). 445.c.15.

The silkworm was fĂȘted in poetry from the earliest years of the printing press: Marco Girolamo Vida wrote an epic on the life of Christ, the Christiad (published 1535) but also the De bombyce, printed in a collection published in Rome in 1527 (C.4.h.5) and cited by Bluteau (p. 177).

Bluteau closes his technical treatise with two Latin paeans, one in prose and one in verse, to the not so humble worm.

And I end by quoting the finale of his Portuguese text:

Let us close by saying of the silkworms that all is miraculous while they live, and everything that remains of them after death is of benefit.

Barry Taylor, Curator Romance Studies

26 October 2016

Studying migration and diaspora through Russian language publishing

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Dear Sir,
I take the liberty of sending you our catalogue of Russian books and pamphlets forbidden by the Russian censorship. Should you wish to order anything from us for the Russian department of the British Museum Library, we could give a discount of 10 per cent on all prices. We have also some new works of Leo Tolstoy, also forbidden in Russia.

This letter was registered in the British Museum as incoming post on 10 October 1892. It was written on Russian Free Press Fund headed paper and signed by one J. Kelchevsky, the pseudonym of a Polish revolutionary and bibliophile, Wilfrid Voynich, probably now better known not for his revolutionary activities, but for the famous mysterious manuscript formerly in his possession. The Keeper of the Department of Printed Books, Richard Garnett, replied expressing interest, and so “some orders [were] given”. These books, periodicals and brochures, mostly published outside the Russian Imperial borders, contributed to the British Library’s now considerable collection of Russian Ă©migrĂ© and Diaspora publications.

Publicatrions-1

Publications-2
A selection of uncensored brochures published by the Russians abroad

The output of printing activities by the first wave of Russian post-revolutionary Ă©migrĂ©s is also well represented in the collections, from rare book art items and newspapers, such as, Novaia Rossiia (‘New Russia’), started in 1936 by Alexander Kerensky, a key political figure in the Russian Revolution of 1917, to popular periodicals.

Zvorykin's Boris Godunov
Title-page of an an art book edition of Pushkin’s drama Boris Godunov, with plates by Plates by Boris Zvorykin, published in Paris. RB.23.b.5893

Kerensky's Novaia Rossiia
 Kerensky’s periodical Novaia Rossiia; NEWS 15932

Zaria Kharbina
An advertisement in Russian from Zaria Kharbina (‘The Dawn of Harbin’), a popular newspaper published by the Russian community in China (PP.7611.ccd)

In the 1980s and 1990s the British Library continued building its collection of Russian Ă©migrĂ© publications from various sources, including donations, and several commercial vendors, one of whom – AndrĂ© Savine – was a dedicated bibliophile who created a personal database of Russian publications abroad.

We actively continue collecting material produced by Russians abroad.

New batch

 New Russian books just arrived from North America.

Whether uncensored or banned by political regimes in Russia and the Soviet Union, or produced for the local Russian language community by various Russian language publishing enterprises aboard, the British Library’s collections of such material have never formed a discrete unit. The materials were not acquired at any single point in time and they have no name that one can refer to (such as ‘free Russian press, ‘Russian underground collection’, etc.). The materials are not stored together in one place but scattered among the Library’s general collections. Moreover, since the material was not always easy for cataloguers to deal with, it is sometimes not obvious under what headings to look for relevant items in the catalogue. Research into these collections can bring to life many interesting stories, change our understanding of the mechanisms of publishing (including new media and digital formats) in the diaspora and by local communities, and help in formulating new challenges in the world of digital media.

Collaboration is important for us. We have invited academics at UK universities to submit proposals for AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships with the Library. One of the topics this year is ‘Studying migration and diaspora through Russian language publishing’, a project which will help to meet some of the challenges described above. Please visit our website for more information and application form or contact details


Katya Rogatchevskaia, Lead Curator of East European Collections

06 September 2016

From China to Peru

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Dr Johnson opened his ‘The vanity of Human Wishes’ in 1749 with the memorable:

Let Observation with extensive View,
Survey Mankind, from China to Peru;

Donald Greene argues that Johnson didn’t mean just the eastern and western extremes of the map but that for him Peru signified the atrocities wrought by the Spaniards on the Indians while China represented wisdom and culture.

What possibly underlay Johnson’s view was the synthetic proverb literature, exemplified by this recently-acquired little book, which showed Chinese wisdom to be comparable with European. (There was no such bibliography for Peru.)

Chinese Proverbs
Marc-Antoine Eidous, Proverbes et apophthegmes chinois, comparés avec les proverbes des autres peuples; pour faire suite aux Moralistes Anciens (Paris: A. J. Dugour, an 5 de la République) British Library RB.23.a.36863

The proverbs first appeared in Marc-Antoine Eidous’s Hau kiou choaan, ou Histoire Chinoise traduite du Chinois (1765).  Or  rather, that’s what it says here in the ‘Avertissement’.  In fact, it was ‘traduit du chinois en anglais’ by James Wilkinson, edited by Thomas Percy (he of the Percy Ballads), and put into French by Monsieur Eidous. By the way, this was a ‘pleasing history’ story rather than hard history.


Pleasing History frontispiece

Frontispiece and title-page of Hau kiou choaan or the pleasing history. A translation from the Chinese language. To which are added, I. The argument or story of a Chinese play, ... III. Fragments of Chinese poetry. (London, 1774) 243.i.30-31.

Pleasing history tp

Proverbes et apophthegmes prints all the proverbs, but trims some of the notes.

There really is nothing here that an 18th-century French reader wouldn’t recognise:

A boat whose planks are affixed with but bird-lime does not long resist the violence of the waves.

One may remove a blemish from a diamond by polishing it: but that of a prince who does not keep his word is never effaced.

And as an example of the comparative method:

Il est important de bien commencer en toutes choses: la faute la plus légÚre peut avor des suites funestes.
    Ce proverbe est le mĂȘme dans plusieurs langues: En latin: Dimidium facti, qui bene coepit habet.  En français: De bon commencement bonne fin.


Chinese proverbs pp12-13
 Two pages of proverbs from Proverbes et apophthegmes chinois


Barry Taylor, Curator Romance Studies

01 August 2016

To the British Museum Library with the Author’s compliments: Dragoș Protopopescu’s Shakespeare translations

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The British Library holds a collection of ten Shakespeare plays in Romanian translation by Dragoș Protopopescu (1892-1948), a Romanian academic, writer and translator. This collection has the distinction of having been donated by Protopopescu to the British Museum Library in 1947. One title (King Lear) was presented to the Library in two editions (1942 and 1944); the other nine titles in the collection were published between 1940 and 1944 by various Romanian publishers. On the front cover of each book the donor inscribed: “To the British Museum Library with the Author’s compliments”.

1940
Title page of William Shakespeare, Henric V. Traducere din limba engleză de Dragoș Protopopescu. (Bucharest, 1940). 11768.aaa.2.

The British Library’s collection of Protopopescu’s published Shakespeare translations is the most complete in any known public collection in Britain or Romania. The National Library of Romania holds five of Protopopescu’s translations of Shakespeare plays, and the Romanian Academy Library holds seven.

1942
Front cover of William Shakespeare, Tragica poveste a lui Hamlet Prințul Danemarcei. Din și Ăźn forma originală de Dragoș Protopopescu. (Bucharest, 1942). 11768.d.26.

Between 1940 and 1945 Protopopescu published 12 translations of Shakespeare plays: Hamlet, The Tempest, Henry V, Coriolanus, The Winter’s Tale, King Lear, Othello, The Taming of the Shrew, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Two of Protopopescu’s published translations are not in the British Library: Twelfth Night and A Midsummer Night’s Dream both published in 1945. The former is held by the Romanian Academy Library and the latter is not currently listed in any publicly available online catalogue.

1943
Front cover of William Shakespeare, Tragedia lui Othello. Din englezește de Dragoș Protopopescu. (Bucharest, 1943). 11768.aaa.1.

Translations of Shakespeare have a long tradition in Romania dating back to the mid-19th century. Julius Caesar was the first to be translated (from the French) and printed in Romania in 1844. From then until 1940 at least 27 Romanian authors translated Shakespeare plays into the Romanian language. Notable among them were Petre P. Carp, Adolph Stern, Scarlat Ion Ghica, Dimitrie N. Ghika, Victor Anestin, Margărita Miller, Verghi and Ludovic Dauș, among others. The National Theatre in Bucharest produced 18 Shakespeare plays and staged about 850 performances between 1884 and 1931.

The ongoing project of the Contemporary Literature Press of the University of Bucharest in cooperation with the British Council, the Romanian Cultural Institute, and the Embassy of Ireland aims to publish Shakespeare’s plays in the original and in parallel Romanian translations, which were published in Romania between 1840 and 1920.

Protopopescu was one of the most prolific Romanian translators of Shakespeare. Apart from his 12 published translations, he prepared an additional 25 Romanian translations of Shakespeare plays by 1948. Unfortunately only five manuscripts of these translations are known to be in existence today. Four are held at the National Library of Romania: A Midsummer Night's Dream (1945), Macbeth (1945), Julius Caesar (1945), Much Ado About Nothing (1948). The manuscript translation of Richard II is held at the National Museum of Romanian Literature in Bucharest.

1944
Frontispiece with Protopopescu’s autograph dedication. From William Shakespeare, Doi domni din Verona. Din și Ăźn forma originală de Dragoș Protopopescu. (Bucharest, 1944). 11768.cc.11.

Protopopescu had a life-long association with the English language and Britain, from his early translations of contemporary Irish and British playwrights in 1913 to his doctoral studies in Paris and London in 1920-1923 and his professional work. His doctoral studies focused on the English dramatist William Congreve. Protopopescu was the first professor of English studies at the University of Cernăuți  in 1925 and held the Chair of English language and literature at the University of Bucharest from 1940. He served as a press attachĂ© at the Romanian Legation in London from 1928 to 1930.

While researching at the British Museum Library, Protopopescu discovered in the Sloane Manuscripts a previously unknown Congreve poem entitled “A Satyr against Love” (Sloane MS 3996). He presented this discovery to the British public in a letter to the Times Literary Supplement of 8 November 1923, which received scholarly appreciation and praise. Protopopescu’s first translation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet was also researched at the British Museum Library in 1928.

On the evidence of his 18 book donations, Protopopescu had a working relationship with the British Museum Library spanning almost 30 years. These donations range from his first collection of poems Poemele restriƟtei (Bucharest, 1920; 11586.bb.49.) , presented in March 1921, to his English grammar Gramatica vie a limbei engleze (Bucharest, 1947; 12974.aa.70), which was donated together with his Shakespeare translations between June and October 1947.

1944_2
Front cover of William Shakespeare, Regele Lear. Din și Ăźn forma originală de Dragoș Protopopescu. (Bucharest, 1944). 11768.d.27.

In Romania and Britain Protopopescu was not only known as a professor of English studies, a vice-president of the Anglo-Romanian Society in Cernăuți, and a translator of Shakespeare into Romanian, but also as a member of the Legionary Movement, a Romanian fascist organisation active between 1930 and 1941. Protopopescu was editor of the Movement’s newspaper Bunavestire in 1937-38, in which he also published pro-British articles. Although Protopopescu later distanced himself from the politics of the Legionary Movement, his controversial social and political engagement on the Romanian far right ultimately led to his arrest by the communist authorities and suicide in 1948.

Milan Grba, Lead Curator South-Eastern European Collections

References/further reading:

Dragoș Protopopescu, Un Classique moderne. William Congreve. (Paris, 1924). 010856.i.32.

ibid., Caracterul de rasă al literaturei engleze. (CernăuĆŁi, 1925). 011840.d.17.

ibid., Pagini engleze. (Bucharest, 1925). 11854.s.31.

ibid., Teatru englez. Traduceri. I. Bernard Shaw, Eugen O'Neill, John M. Synge. (Bucharest, 1943). 11783.e.14.

William Congreve, A Sheaf of Poetical Scraps. Together with A Satyr against Love, Prose Miscellanies and Letters. Edited by Dr. Dragosh Protopopesco. Second edition (Bucharest, 1925). 11633.ee.9.

Marcu Beza, Shakespeare in Roumania. (London, 1931). 011761.f.18.

Two of Protopescu’s books are freely available online from the Contemporary Literature Press of the University of Bucharest:

Gramatica vie a limbei engleze, with a chronology of the life of Dragoș Protopopescu in Romanian by Andi Bălu.

Valoarea latină a culturii engleze 

13 June 2016

A Full Circle around Shakespeare

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The Russian national poet Alexander Pushkin is often called ‘the Shakespeare of Russia’. For Pushkin, Shakespeare represented an art that was in tune with the ‘spirit of the age’ and put the people at the centre of the concept of the world. Pushkin admired the ‘truthful’ presentation of Shakespeare’s characters, as although they were part of the grand scale of historical events, they were captured by the playwright as individuals.

In 1825, just before the Decembrist uprising, Pushkin wrote the tragedy Boris Godunov ‘according to the system of our Father Shakespeare’. Set in Russia at the end of the 16th and beginning of the 17th centuries, when the Rurik dynasty terminated with the death of Tsar Fedor Ioanovich, who inherited the throne after his father Ivan the Terrible, the play is focused on the problem of the struggle for power and responsibility for it. Being Fedor’s brother-in-law and having de facto ruled instead of him for a number of years, Boris Godunov is ‘appointed’ tsar.

Boris_Godunov_icon
Icon of Tsar Boris Godunov (image from Wikimedia Commons)

In Pushkin’s tragedy Boris is shown as an ambitious but competent ruler who feels remorse for allegedly giving orders to kill a child – Tsarevich Dmitrii, Fedor’s younger brother and legal heir. In the last months of his life Boris has to deal with claims to the Russian throne made by an imposter claiming to be Dmitrii, who had apparently miraculously survived the assassination. Boris dies suddenly in the midst of political turmoil, but his son and heir Fedor II becomes a victim of this ‘False Dmitrii’. The play ends with Fedor’s death while the False Dmitrii is ascending the throne. The full circle of the power struggle is completed, and ‘the people are silent’ – the words with which Pushkin chose to end his play.

By dramatizing the historical power struggle Pushkin referred to the current state of play and the political situation in Russia, and it is not surprising that the play was not published until 1831 (with a print run of 2000 copies) and first performed only in 1870.

Boris Godunov front cover
The first edition of Pushkin’s Boris Godunov (St Petersburg, 1831) British Library C.114.n.8

The British Library copy has its own fascinating history. It comes from the famous collection put together by Serge Diaghilev (1872-1929)  in the last years of his life. Most of Diaghilev’s books were bequeathed to his friend and protĂ©gĂ© Serge Lifar, who then sold the collection at auction in 1975. The Diaghilev copy was acquired by the Library for 12,000 francs (= ÂŁ 1,333.19).

It is interesting to note that Diaghilev normally did not mark his books. Lifar did so inconsistently, but on this copy one can see his stamp and a label for the exhibition “Pouchkine 1837-1937” (Paris,  Salle Pleyel, 16 March-15 April, 1937), organised by S. Lifar.

Boris Godunov-Lifar's stamp     Boris Godunov-Lifar's stamp 2
Lifar's ownesrhip marks

Before Diaghilev owned it the book was part of a collection of 3,500 items assembled by Vladimir Nikitich Vitov , an economist and member of the Moscow Bookplate Lovers Society.


Boris Godunov-Vitov's bookplate   Boris Godunov-Vitov's sign 2
Vitov’s bookplate and stamp

His ownership stamp was designed by the graphic artist Vladimir Belkin (W. Bielkine) (1895-1966), who was at some point close to the circle around Serge Soudeikine (1882-1946), an artist and set-designer associated with the Ballets Russes and the Metropolitan Opera. Belkin left Russia in 1918, travelled around Europe, and in the late 1920s settled in the Netherlands. Some of his theatre designs for Dutch companies are now held in the Theatre Museum in Amsterdam.

To wrap up my pretty random stream of associations, I would just say that of course one of these productions that Belkin designed in Holland was The Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare. Through the history of the book we made a full circle, and the tragedy of a medieval power struggle turned into our favourite comfortable and funny comedy. It is life, I hope.

Katya Rogatchevskaia, Lead Curator East European Collections

References/further reading:

S. Lifar. Serge Diaghilev: his life, his work, his legend. An intimate biography. (New York, 1940) 010790.i.76.

N. Mar, “Knizhnyi auktsion v Monte Karlo: rasskazyvaet doctor iskusstvovedeniia I.S.Zil’bershtein,” Literaturnaia gazeta, February 11, 1976, 6.

Catherine O’Neil, With Shakespeare’s Eyes: Pushkin's Creative Appropriation of Shakespeare. (Newark, Delaware, 2003) m03/27059.

The Salon album of Vera Sudeikin-Stravinsky, edited and translated by John E. Bowlt. (Princeton, 1995) LB.31.b.12787.

Sjeng Scheijen, Diaghilev: A life, translated by Jane Hedley-PrĂŽle and S.J. Leinbach. (London, 2009) YC.2010.b.205.

 

08 April 2016

Portuguese Anagrammatic Nun Novelist

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If that title sounds like a cryptic crossword clue, so much the better.

Leonarda tpBrados do desengano contra o profundo sono do esquecimento. II. Parte. Escrita por Leonarda Gil da Gama, natural da Serra de Cintra. (Lisbon, 1739). RB.23.a.36813

An improving novel in the baroque style, interspersed with poems. The author (1672-1760?) was born Maria Magdalena EufĂ©mia da GlĂłria. When she entered the Franciscan order at the convent of Nossa Senhora da Esperança in Lisbon, she took the name in religion Magdalena da Gloria. She wrote under the pseudonym Leonarda Gil da Gama, an anagram of her religious name. Her convent was home also to Maria do Ceu (b. 1658), author of several baroque works. Sister Maria has been studied in recent years, but it looks as if Leonarda’s star has yet to rise again.

The reason for her affecting a pseudonym was not her sex (Maria do Ceu had no such problem) but presumably her vocation. One wonders how much of a secret this was: the Prologues recognise that her name is an anagram, and given the anagram-crazy culture of the Baroque it must have been child’s play to unmask her.


Leonarda preface 2
Leonarda’s use of an anagrammatic pseudonym as mentioned in the preliminaries to the book. 

The Spanish Jesuit Baltasar GraciĂĄn (1601-1658) hid his identity under that of his brother Lorenzo and the anagram GarcĂ­a de Marlones.

Baroque style lived on in Portugal in prose and verse when it was rather in decline elsewhere. One indication of this is that most of the 17th-century poets are to be read in the anthology A Fenix renascida (‘Phoenix reborn’) of 1716-28 (we have a mixed set at 11452.a.23.).

In his bibliography, InnocĂȘncio Francisco da Silva tells us she was much admired in her own time, dubbed the Phoenix of Wits (Phenix dos Ingenhos), although ‘today [1860] few would be able to bear reading her works, on account of her exquisitely conceptista style’.

This is a new acquisition. We have other works by her, all apparently acquired quite recently, an indication both of the long period of neglect which she has suffered and a sign that her fortunes may be rallying.

Should you wish to assist this process of reassessment, where better to start than the British Library?

Barry Taylor, Curator Romance language collections

References:

Leonarda Gil da Gama, Aguia real, fenix abrazado, pelicano amante, historia panegyrica, e vida prodigioza do inclito Patriarca ... S. Agostinho ... (Lisbon, 1744). RB.23.a.8047

Leonarda Gil da Gama, Reyno de Babylonia, ganhado pelas armas do empyreo; discurso moral 

(Lisbon, 1749). Cup.407.n.4. (also available online) Illustrated with alegorical emblems.

Sóror Maria do Céu, Triunfo do rosário : repartido em cinco autos; tradução e apresentação de Ana Hatherly. (Lisbon, 1992). YA.1995.a.8273

RellaçaĂ” da vida e morte da serva de Deos a veneravel Madre Elenna da Crus : transcriçaĂ” do Códice 87 da Biblioteca Nacional precedida de um estudo histórico / por Maria do Céu ; Filomena Belo. (Lisbon, 1993). YA.2000.a.29236

Walter Begley, Biblia Anagrammatica, or the Anagrammatic Bible: a literary curiosity gathered from unexplored sources and from books of the greatest rarity ... With a general introduction and a special bibliography. (London, 1904) 3129.e.77.

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