THE BRITISH LIBRARY

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63 posts categorized "Romance languages"

20 March 2017

Actaeon was not a voyeur

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The current small exhibition about Ovid in art (primarily ceramics) at the Wallace Collection reminded me of an earlier one at the National Gallery. Here some artists of our time paid homage to Actaeon on the entirely bogus grounds that he was a voyeur, and regaled us with a mock-up of a peep-show and similar treats.

But let’s back to the text, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, book III: Actaeon was out hunting and stumbled on Diana, goddess of chastity and the hunt, bathing with her nymphs.

Actaeon MS Harley 4431

Actaeon surprising Diana at her bath, miniature from Christine de Pizan, L’Épître Othéa, part of MS Harley 4431.

In Mary Innes’s translation for Penguin Classics (1955 and much reprinted):

The nymphs, discovered in their nakedness, beat their breasts at the sight of a man ... Crowding around Diana, they sheltered her with their bodies, but the goddess was taller than they, head and shoulders above them all

Vengefully, the goddess sprinkles Actaeon with water, turning him into a stag and causing him to be killed by his hounds.

Actaeon Emblemata 12305.bbb.37 Actaeon transformed, and pursued by his own hounds, from Andreas Alciatus, Emblemata (Lyons, 1551). 12305.bbb.37

Ovid gives the message right at the start:

Fortunae crimen in illo,
non scelus invenies; quod enim scelus error habebat?
(Destiny was to blame for Actaeon’s misfortunes, not any guilt on his part; for there is nothing sinful in losing one’s way.)

Ovid himself likens himself to Actaeon in Tristia II. Explaining why the Emperor Augustus exiled him to Romania, he says “Like Actaeon, I saw something”. What we don’t know, but Ovid obviously thought Actaeon was innocent, which meant that he was innocent too.

Actaeon 833.l.1

Diana and Actaeon from Ovid, Metamporphoses (Venice, 1513) 833.l.1.

But later authorities couldn’t help wanting to put the blame on Actaeon.

Fulgentius (5th century) said that Actaeon wasted all his time on money on leisure (hunting) and was therefore consumed by his hobby.

Actaeon IB.23185

 The story of Actaeon, from Ovidio methamorphoseos vulgare, translated and allegorised by Giovanni di Bonsignore (Venice, 1497) IB.23185.

Giovanni di Bonsignore (14th century) said he turned into a stag because his love of the solitary pursuit of hunting had made his proud and anti-social, like the stag.

Camões in the Lusiads (16th century) says much the same about Actaeon, but this is interpreted by Manuel de Faria e Sousa in the 17th century as something to be applied to the young King Sebastian.


Actaeon King Sebastian 10631.c.4
 The headstrong King Sebastian of Portugal from Fray Bernardo de Brito, Elogios dos reis de Portugal (Lisbon,
1603) 10631.c.4

Headstrong young Sebastian, like Actaeon, was too keen on sports and neglectful of the need to find a wife. And of course he died young, at the battle of Alcacer Quibir, because of his hot-headedness and left Portugal without an heir, leading to what the Portuguese call the “Philippine Domination” of 1580-1640.

So, be careful when you go down to the woods.

But whatever his mistakes Actaeon was not a voyeur.

Barry Taylor, Curator Romance Studies

References:

Barry Taylor, ‘O mito de Actéon: interpretação e poetização’, in Mythos: a tradição mitográfica portuguesa; representações e identidade séculos XVI-XVIII, ed. Abel N. Pena (Lisbon, 2008), pp. 55-66. YF.2012.a.29085

The Metamorphoses of Ovid. Translated and with an introduction by Mary M. Innes (Harmondsworth, 1955) W.P.513/58.

Gerlinde Huber-Rebenich, Sabine Lütkemeyer, Hermann Walter, Ikonographisches Repertorium zu den Metamorphosen des Ovid : die textbegleitende Druckgraphik (Berlin, 2004-), I.1, pp. 38-39. YF.2008.b.1354

 

06 March 2017

French entertainment in the Evanion collection: from Robert-Houdin to La Foire du Trône

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The current British Library exhibition ‘Victorian Entertainement: There Will Be Fun’  starts with a poster advertising the day performances and ‘Soirées Fantastiques’ of French magician Robert-Houdin, ‘The Father of Modern Magic’. After the Revolution of February 1848, which deposed the French King Louis Philippe, Robert-Houdin went to London where he performed at the St James’s Theatre in the summer of 1848.

1robert houdin 1848

       Poster for Robert Houdin, ‘Soirées Fantastiques’, St. James's Theatre, Piccadilly. 1848 (Evanion 528)

The third part of the show involved a Levitation Illusion, called ‘Escamotage de Robert-Houding Fils, Suspension Etherenne’, which is illustrated at the bottom of the poster. The trick is still used nowadays by street performers throughout the world. In this performance, starring his own son, Robert-Houdin associated the trick with the use of ether, claiming that he had discovered a new marvellous property of the substance: its inhalation would make the boy’s body as light as a balloon, allowing him to float in the air with only a stick as a support.

Robert-Houdin was an inspiration for Evanion, the London conjuror and ventriloquist who started performing in 1849 and whose collection of ephemera related to Victorian entertainment, magic and performance is currently on display in the exhibition.

Among the French items in the collection  several posters advertise performances held at the Foire du Trône in Paris in the 1880s. They show the diversity of the attractions held at this fair, dating back to the Middle Ages, which still takes place every year around Easter. The fair used to be held by the Abbey of Saint-Antoine and was called ‘Foire au Pain d’Epice’ because of the gingerbread made by the monks for the occasion.

The Fair owes its name to its location, a square in the East of Paris which used to be called ‘Place du Trône’ after the throne erected there as part of the celebrations for the wedding of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Spain in 1660 (depicted in L’entrée triomphante de leurs majestez ... dans la ville de Paris... (Paris, 1660) British Library 37/604.i.22.). During the French Revolution, it became the square of the Toppled Throne, ‘Place du Trône renversé’, where a guillotine was set up, and it was later renamed Place de la Nation.

2foire pain epice jal ill  1893
“Le lundi de Pâques à la foire aux Pains d’Epices”, Le Journal Illustré, 16 April 1893 (Bibliothèque nationale de France)

In an engraving printed in Le Journal Illustré of 16 April 1893, crowds of adults and children wander through the fair and its tents; open air activities include, from left to right, the selling and throwing of confetti, snack selling, giant effigies, musicians, a game of balls, an air balloons themed Ferris wheel, and the Hammer game.

3trone 1881b

Examples of Foire du Trône attractions featuring in the posters collected by Evanion include races accompanied by military bands and riding lessons for the general public at the Hippodrome (1881, Evanion 593, pictured above).

4trone 1881a

Poster for Rothomago.  Foire du Trône, 1881. Evanion 1257

It also included performances of Rothomago, a fairy spectacle in 3 acts and 16 tableaux (including the Enchanted Twig, the House of the Devil, the Speaking Talisman, and the Genius of the World, finishing with an Apotheosis illuminated with electric light ‘even during daytime’), with painted backgrounds, cardboard sets and exotic costumes. The exuberance of this dramatic love comedy exudes from the illustration at the centre of the poster, peopled with characters of different dress and status, from the majestic fairy standing at the top of a jungle temple, to the lovers at the centre of the scene.

5foire 1881

Poster for the wax museum, “Grand musée français de sujets en cire”, Champ de Foire, Paris, 1881. Evanion 594

The ‘Champ de Foire’ was a space for the display of curious, instructive, entertaining or terrifying exhibits, like the Great French Museum of Wax Characters, focused on contemporary military and religious figures. It included life-size effigies of the sovereigns of Europe, and the tribal chiefs of Zululand, with an action scene showing the recent dramatic death, in 1879, of the young prince Napoleon (son of the emperor Napoleon III), who had joined the British troops in the Anglo-Zulu War. The show also displayed models of the most famous contemporary criminals. The author presents himself in the tract as an accredited and serious ‘artist’, who uses historical accessories (costumes and arms are ‘300 to 400 years old’) and distances himself from fairground entertainers and charlatans: his ‘gallerie’ is not designed to entertain the idle, as one needs to be ‘vraiment intelligent’ to appreciate its riches, though three ‘explicateurs’ will guide visitors.

6trone 1887
Poster for the glass-weaver, “La fileuse de verre”, Foire du Trône, Paris, 1887. Evanion 1271

The fair featured the Glass Weaver, a ‘famous artist’ who would make her ‘chefs-d’oeuvre’ in front of the public, producing a variety of objects such as carafes, test tubes, crystal flowers, and wonderfully long threads of glass (1887). The illustration shows how craft making becomes a performance: rays of light emanate from her head and she works at a table, behind a glass screen, surrounded by clouds of smoke and flanked by two monumental lions.

The Foire du Trône hosted a variety of shows and performances, from the technologically sophisticated, like cinematographic projections, which started in the 1890s, exalting the wonders of modern science, to the more modest, like the Living statues act, with street artists dressed and made up to impress the crowds (see the backstage preparation of ‘Golden men’ in 1893).

7IMG_9236
La baraque de la Goulue, à la Foire du Trône; reproduced in Lautrec par Lautrec., ed. Philippe Huisman and M. G. Dortu (Paris, 1964). L.R.409.p.5.

The fair held many stands and entertainments tents. In 1895, Toulouse-Lautrec painted two panels for the oriental booth of La Goulue (‘the Glutton’), Louise Weber, a cancan dancer who had gained fame and wealth by performing at the new Moulin Rouge cabaret which opened in Montmartre in 1889. In the left panel La Goulue, dances at the Moulin Rouge with her partner, the tall and gaunt Valentin the Désossé (‘the Boneless’); in the right panel she performs a ‘danse mauresque’, belly-dancing accompanied on the piano, next to two characters in oriental costumes. Unfortunately, her show at the fair was a failure and eventually closed down.

Throughout the 20th century, the Foire du Trône remained a major venue for popular entertainment: its atmosphere was captured in the 1920s and 1930s by news agencies like ‘Agence Rol’, ‘Meurisse’ or ‘Mondial Photo-Presse’ and in the 1950s and 1960s by famous photographers like Doisneau, Izis, or Depardon.

9 27-4-22_couronnement_de_la_Reine_[...]Agence_Rol

Above: Coronation of the Queen of the Foire au Pain d’épice, 27 avril 1922 , Agence Rol (Bibliothèque nationale de France); below, Crowds at the fair, April 1924 
(Bibliothèque nationale de France

10 19-4-24_foire_au_pain_d'épices_[...]Agence_Rol

On the Bibliothèque de France Gallica Website you can listen to recordings of songs and music of the Foire du Trône, like Jean Nivel’s ‘Pots-pourris de marches, valses, tangos, boleros, javas, polkas, slow, fox’, from 1955, or Jean Bérard playing his barrel organ in the 1960s.

Irène Fabry-Tehranchi, Curator, Romance collections.

References:

Parade: la Foire du Trône, 1936-1947, photographies, Marcel Bouvet; présentées par Gérard Gagnepain (Pont l'Abbé, 2006).

Le cirque d'Izis: avec quatre compositions originales de Marc Chagall. Préface de Jacques Prévert (Monte-Carlo, 1965). LB.31.c.1694

Rosolen, Agnès, De la foire au pain d'épice à la foire du Trône (Charenton-le-Pont, 1985) Awaiting shelfmark



 

27 February 2017

An irony-free zone: early French translations of Jane Austen

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The British Library holds a world-class collection of Jane Austen material. The Library’s manuscript materials include, for instance, a collection of comments about Mansfield Park by family, friends and acquaintances compiled by Austen soon after publication. The Library possesses at least one copy of each of the first English printed editions of her work, and also holds the first full French translations of Sense and Sensibility (1815), Mansfield Park (1816), Pride and Prejudice (1822), and Northanger Abbey (1824), as well as the first translation into German of Persuasion (1822).

Both Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park were first translated into French in a much abridged form in four instalments in the Swiss periodical Bibliothèque britannique (1813, 1815). (Unfortunately, the Library’s copy of this periodical, which disseminated British culture in continental Europe during the Napoleonic wars, was destroyed by bombing during the Second World War.) By 1824, all of six of Austen’s major novels were available in French.

There are no known French reviews of these early translations, but the translators’ prefaces to the novels, the way in which they were translated and the changes that were made to the text can provide a great deal of information about the tastes and expectations of her readership and the reception of her novels in France and Switzerland in the early 19th century.

Raison et Sensibilité tp
Title-page of Raison et Sensibilité ou les Deux Manières d’aimer ‘traduit librement de l’anglais’ (Paris, 1815) British Library RB.23.a.30556

In 1815, Isabelle de Montolieu, a well-known and successful Swiss novelist, published her ‘free translation’ of Sense and Sensibility as Raison et Sensibilité ou les Deux Manières d’aimerThe Library’s copy includes the translator’s preface: Montolieu expresses her preference for this ‘new genre’ of English novel which has superseded that of ‘terreur’ and is confident that her French readers will enjoy a bit of ‘light literature’, ‘devoid of any political allusions’ after the troubled times they have lived through. 

Raison et Sensibilité preface
The opening of Montolieu’s preface to Raison et Sensibilité

She presents her translation as ‘reasonably faithful until the end, where I have allowed myself, as is my custom, a few slight changes which I have deemed necessary’. She changes some forenames: Elinor Dashwood remains Elinor, but her sisters Marianne and Margaret become Maria and Emma. She alters and moralises the ending: Marianne rejects the reprobate Willoughby, now a widower, and he, seeing the error of his ways, marries Caroline (Eliza in the original) whom he had earlier seduced and abandoned. Madame Smith, who has taken in Caroline, is ‘delighted to save a soul from eternal damnation’. Montolieu, catering for a readership still in thrall to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Nouvelle Héloïse, produced a didactic and sentimental version of Austen’s novel. At this time, too, her fame far eclipsed Austen’s and so it’s no surprise that the publisher reissued this translation in 1828, with added illustrations, in an edition of Montolieu’s works .

Parc de Mansfeld
Title-page of Le Parc de Mansfield ou les Trois Cousines (Paris, 1816) C.194.a.1345.

The title page of Le Parc de Mansfield ou les Trois Cousines, states that the novel is ‘par l’auteur de Raison et Sensibilité, ou Les deux manières d’aimer’, thus trading implicitly on the cachet of Montolieu. The translator, bashfully named as M. Henri V ******N., was Henri Villemain or Vilmain, a prolific translator and also a novelist in his own right.

Orgueil et Prévention
Title-page of Orgueil et Prévention (Paris, 1822) C.194.a.1254.

The Library holds one of the two early French translations of Pride and Prejudice, Orgueil et Prévention, also described as ‘par l’auteur de Raison et Sensibilité’, translated by ‘Mlle É…….***.’ This translator has been identified as Eloïse Perks, who, in her short preface, presents herself as a ‘jeune étrangère’ (young foreigner), and a novice writer imitating the ‘elegant pen’ and the ‘ good model’ of Montolieu, and adds that the translation of Raison et Sensibilité ‘eut en France le plus grand succès’. Perks also adds a few brief explanatory notes on English customs, food and place names, e.g. on mince pies (I, p.82) or the English Sunday (I, p. 94), and says that she intends to translate the as yet untranslated novels: this didn’t happen, so either her version wasn’t a success, or she was pipped at the post by other translators.

Abbaye de Northanger tp and frontispiece2
Title-page and frontispiece of L’Abbaye de Northanger (Paris, 1824) 12808.u.39.

The last novel to be translated was the posthumous Northanger Abbey, translated as L’Abbaye de Northanger by Mme Hyacinthe de F****, i.e. Hyacinthe de Ferrières, who was also a novelist. The author’s name is given on the title page, but Frenchified as Jeanne Austen. Henry Austen’s ‘Biographical Notice’ is included, though without the Postscript, and with some omissions and curious errors: notably, John for (Samuel) Johnson, Arbley for Arblay (Fanny Burney), and, significantly, the translator omits the sentence ending: ‘she partook largely in all the best gifts of the comic muse’. Despite this, it must be admitted that Henry’s notice on his deceased sister does emphasise her piety and decorum.

The British Library’s copy includes the engraved frontispiece illustrating and telescoping the episode where the heroine first sees the large chest in her room and then tries to open it when she is interrupted (the figure at the door). Our copy, in three volumes, bears the stamp of the ‘cabinet de lecture’ (circulating library) of G. Dufour et Cie in Amsterdam. It has a British Museum stamp dated 16 September 1876, and is housed in modern box with the label ‘Conserved under the Adopt a Book  Appeal [by] The Jane Austen Society of North America’. The other early translations into French and German that the Library holds were, by contrast, all acquired relatively recently.

Cumulatively, these translations enable us to study how Jane Austen was interpreted in early French culture and how they convey the spirit of the original text. This early French Jane Austen is a somewhat formulaic novelist of sensibility devoid of her trademark sense of irony and social satire.

Teresa Vernon, Lead Curator, Romance Collections.

References/Further Reading

The Reception of Jane Austen in Europe, edited by Brian Southam and A.A. Mandel (London, 2014). YC.2016.a.4133

Lucile Trunel, Les éditions françaises de Jane Austen 1815-2007. L’apport de l’histoire éditoriale à la compréhension de la réception de l’auteur en France (Paris, 2010). YF.2014.a.5858

Valérie Cossy, Jane Austen in Switzerland: a study of the early French translations (Geneva, 2006). YD.2006.a.4670

 

07 February 2017

“Ex musaeo” on a Latin title page = “from the library of” or “edited by”?

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On a Latin title page the author and title are only a small element: early printers just had to tell you where an author came from, his offices and distinctions (very important in an age of hierarchy) and the grandee to whom he dedicated his work (often in hope of patronage).

A phrase which turns up from time to time and which had puzzled me is: “ex musaeo”. Now, “museum” could mean “library”, and I often assumed that this meant that the edition had been prepared from a copy (presumably manuscript) “in the possession of” a certain party.

This seems to have be in the mind of the British Museum Library cataloguer who produced this record:

Musaeo Catalogue entry

Museo Maiansius 92.c.26

And of course there are examples when “ex musaeo” does clearly mean this. Take a look at the plate between columns 1011 and 1012 of Fortunius Licetus, De Lucernis Antiquorum reconditis libb. sex …. (Oldenburg, 1652; 810.l.18.): ‘Ex Musaeo Cl. V. Joan. Galvani. J. C. Pat.’

Museo plate

Proof positive that this means “in the possession of” is given in the text: “Inter alia quamplura cimelia Ioannes Galuanus Pt. I. C. in suo Gazophilacio pulcherrimam habet ... imaginem” [Among many other treasures Ioannes Galuanus has this most beautiful statue in his gallery]

In a textual context, “e museo” (note the variant “ex Museio”) does indeed mean “from the collection of”, as in the case of: J. Scaligeri ... Poemata omnia, ex Museio P. Schriverii. ([Leyden], 1615; 1213.b.6.). Schriverius writes (p. 12): “Quare cùm intellexissent quidam docti et venusti homines servari inscriniis meis integriora et auctiora Scaligeri poëmata ...”[When certain learned and distinguished men discovered that better and fuller poems of Scaliger were held on my shelves ...]

But I think it’s just as likely (if not more so) that “ex musaeo” indicates the labours of the editor.

These all have prologues by the editors which make no mention of where their copy-texts were to be found.

Museo Petronius 1489.a.26

Petronius, Satyricon. Extrema editio ex musæo ... J. A. Gonsali de Salas. (Frankfiort, 1629) 1489.a.26.

González de Salas says the text is “seriò castigatum, et nonnullis locis auctum, partim ex ingenio, partim ex Lutetianâ editione ann. 1595” [seriously corrected, and in a number of places increased, partly out of [my own] invention, partly from the Paris edition of 1595].

Guilielmi Postelli De republica seu magistratibus Atheniensium liber. Ex Musaeo Joan. Balesdeni, In Principe Senatu Advocati. Accessit A. Thysii Discursus politicus de eadem materia, et Collatio Atticarum et Romanarum legum. (Leyden, 1645). 9025.a.14.

Apuleius Madaurensis Platonicus serio castigatus. Ex musæo Pet. Scriverii. (Amsterdam , 1624) 1079.a.5.

Thesaurus novus Theologico-Philologicus, sive Sylloge Dissertationum Exegeticarum ad selectiora atque insigniora Veteris et Novi Instrumenti loca; a Theologis Protestantibus maximum partem in Germania diversis temporibus separatim editarum, nunc vero secundum seriem librorum, capitum et commatum digestarum, junctimque recusarum, additis indicibus ... ex Musæo T. Hasæi et C. Ikenii. Lugduni Batavorum ; Amstelodami, 1732. 5.g.7,8.

So, although unrecorded, I deduce “museum” here draws on a particular use of “Musae” to mean “sciences, studies” (Lewis and Short, citing Cicero no less).

Barry Taylor, Curator Romance Studies

References:

D. J. Shaw, “‘Ars formularia’: Neo-Latin Synonyms for Printing”, The Library, 6th series, 11:3 (1989) 220-30.

Silvia Rizzo, Il lessico filologico degli umanisti. (Rome, 1973). X.900/14989.

19 January 2017

The art of ruining a friendship: Zola, Cézanne and L’Œuvre

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Once again Christmas is over, and many of us will have been fortunate enough to receive a book among our presents. Some may be a delight, others a disappointment, as in the case of the gift which Stephen Leacock’s young Hoodoo McFiggin found in his Christmas stocking:

‘It’s a book,’ he said, as he unwrapped it. ‘I wonder if it is fairy stories or adventures. Oh, I hope it’s adventures! I’ll read it all morning.' No, Hoodoo, it was not precisely adventures. It was a small family Bible. […] After that he took his book and read some adventures called ‘Genesis’ till breakfast-time. (Literary Lapses: Montreal, 1910; British Library 012331.e.44)

Unlike Hoodoo, most of us have the option of returning and exchanging a book which might not have been quite what we had hoped for. Although this may require tact, it is rare for an unwelcome gift to produce such drastic consequences as the one which Paul Cézanne received from his friend Émile Zola in 1886.

As part of his Rougon-Macquart cycle, a series of twenty novels chronicling the ‘natural and social history of a family under the Second Empire’, Zola had begun work earlier that year on a story entitled L’Œuvre (translated into English as His Masterpiece: London, 1902; 1094.k.8). Although he was initially inspired by Balzac’s cycle La Comédie humaine, Zola planned not merely to depict contemporary society but the workings of environment and heredity among the many members of a single family.

Zola Oeuvre 12517.e.33
Émile Zola, L’Œuvre (Paris, 1886) 12517.e.33.

In earlier books Zola had portrayed life in Paris and the provinces and the fortunes of market traders, miners, prostitutes, absinthe addicts and the staff of a department store. Here, though, he turned his attention to the world of art, with which he was well acquainted through his friendship with Cézanne. The two had known each other since their boyhood in Aix-en-Provence, the model for Zola’s Plassans, home to Adélaïde Fouque, founder of the three branches of the Rougon-Macquart dynasty and great-grandmother of Claude Lantier, the protagonist of L’Œuvre.

Zola Cézanne letter
An illustrated letter from Cézanne to Zola written in 1866. Reproduced in John Rewald, Cézanne: sa vie - son œuvre - son amitié pour Zola (Paris, 1939) 010655.i.24.

Unlike other members of the Macquart family who become labourers, soldiers or farmers, Claude Lantier shows artistic talent and settles in Paris to pursue his career as a painter. He has less in common with his murderous engine-driver brother Jacques (La Bête humaine) and half-sister, the notorious prostitute Nana, than with his second brother, the activist miner Étienne (Germinal); however, Claude’s revolutionary spirit manifests itself not in the struggle against corrupt industrialists but against another kind of conservatism – the stifling influence of academicism on art.

Zola suggested titles 1
A list of titles which Zola considered for L’Œuvre. Reproduced in Émile Zola and the Arts, ed. Jean-Max Guieu and Alison Hilton (Washington D.C, 1988)

We are given a glimpse of Claude’s revolt against convention when, in the novel’s opening pages, he takes in a young woman, Christine Hallegrain, stranded late at night in Paris on her way to a post in Passy:

What especially frightened her were some sketches in oils that hung frameless from the walls, a serried array of sketches reaching to the floor […] She had never seen such terrible painting, so coarse, so glaring, showing a violence of colour that jarred upon her nerves like a carter’s oath heard on the doorstep of an inn.

Clearly this is something very different from the staid historical, mythological and Biblical subjects favoured by the establishment, and it is not surprising that Claude’s work fails to find acceptance into the annual Salon of the Académie des Beaux-Arts. When a group of rejected artists sets up a Salon des Refusés to display their paintings, his Plein Air creates a sensation, recalling Manet’s Déjeuner sur l’herbe in its juxtaposition of clothed male and nude female figures, the latter modelled on Christine, who becomes his mistress, the mother of his son Jacques, and finally his wife. They move to the country in an attempt to draw inspiration from the rural surroundings, but this proves a failure, and at Christine’s instigation he returns to Paris. After repeated rejections he embarks on a gigantic painting of the Île de la Cité which becomes an obsession as he constantly revises and repaints it even as his neglected young son lies dying. It is not this painting but a study of the dead boy, ‘a masterpiece of limpidity and power to which was added a note of boundless melancholy’, which is accepted for the Salon, though arousing such controversy that Claude is driven back to his ‘masterpiece’, the huge landscape which is never completed and ultimately costs him his marriage, his friendships and his life as he hangs himself in his studio.

Zola Ouevre KTC.35.b.5.
Cartoon of Zola, representing L’Œuvre, from: H. Lebourgeois, L'Œuvre de Zola : 16 simili aquarelles (Paris, 1898) KTC.35.b.5.

The one friend who attends his funeral is Pierre Sandoz, a novelist who, like Zola, is engaged on a cycle of Naturalist novels charting the fortunes of an extended family. Zola himself had written many articles on painting as a young journalist and had promoted the work of Manet in particular, and when Cézanne received his copy of L’Œuvre it was not difficult for him to interpret Sandoz as a self-portrait of the author and Lantier as a study of Cézanne himself. Another Claude, Monet, felt impelled to write an open letter shortly after the novel’s publication declaring that he did not recognize himself or any of his fellow Impressionists in it. However, the damage was done; with impeccable politeness Cézanne penned a thank-you letter to Zola, parcelled up the book, returned it to the author, and broke off all contact with him.

As she sits for the nude in the ill-fated ‘masterpiece’, Christine reflects bitterly on Claude’s first painting of her which had been the source of all her misfortunes: ‘It had come to life again, it rose from the dead, endowed with greater vitality than herself, to finish killing her…’ It may not be fanciful to see here a foreshadowing of another ominous portrait in Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, which appeared four years later (London, 1890; Eccles 395). Sadly, in human terms L’Œuvre possessed a far greater destructive power than Zola had ever imagined.

Susan Halstead,Content Specialist (Humanities & Social Sciences) Research Services

11 January 2017

Father Manuel Alvares, the Portuguese Jesuit who taught the British Latin

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When John Aubrey, best known for his unbuttoned biographical sketches Brief Lives, drew up the programme of studies for his ideal school, he referred no less than five times to the work of a Portuguese Jesuit:

In the first year (age 10) the boys should learn “the rules of Emmanuel Alvarus’s Grammar” (p. 64)
The library should include “Emmanuel Alvarus, Grammatica” (p. 71)
“Let them learn the XXI Praecepta de Constructione (translated into English) Institutionum Linguae Latinae, Emmanuelis Alvari” (p. 89)
“When they understand Latin pretty well, then they learn the second part of Alvarus’s Grammar. Many of the priests go no further than the first part.” (p. 93)
“Let them repeat the Latin Alvarus and Greek grammar every month or six weeks: only that memoriter, except in a week or fortnight some good short speech by way of narrare in the hall at diner time” (p. 94-95).

These references are to Father Manuel Alvares (1526-1583) SJ and his De institutione grammatica libri tres. Born in Madeira, he was ordained priest in 1538 and was persuaded to join the Society when a Jesuit stopped off on the island on the way to India. Adept in the three biblical tongues, he was a successful teacher and was commissioned to write a Latin grammar for the Jesuit schools. (A Jesuit education, you will remember, was the best schooling a Catholic boy could get at this period.)

Alvarus tp

Title page of Alvares’s Grammar (Evora, 1599). British Library 1509/4497. Note the device of the Society of Jesus. 

He was Rector of the Colégio das Artes in Coimbra from 1561 to 1566. The Colégio had been founded by John III in 1548 in a spirit of liberal openness to Europe: top scholars were recruited from France and Scotland. But this golden age was not to last: in 1550 the teachers were persecuted for heresy and in 1555 the College handed over to those Cerberuses of orthodoxy, the Jesuits, one of whom was Alvares.

The ESTC lists 26 British editions of his various grammatical works, in Latin or in translation, from 1671 to 1794. A Japanese translation was produced for Jesuit schools in the East.

Alvarus English tp

 An early 18th-Century English edition of Alvares’s Grammar (London, 1707) 1568/3623.

But Alvares thrived into much more recent times. James Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus  learned “what little he knew of the laws of Latin verse from a ragged book written by a Portuguese priest” (cited Schork, p. 21).

What this shows is the international quality of Latin in the modern period. Nobody seemed to care that Alvares was a Jesuit: knowledge is knowledge regardless of the vessel which contains it. (I hope that doesn’t sound too sententious.)

Barry Taylor, Curator Romance collections.

References:

R. J. Schork, Latin and Roman Culture in Joyce (Gainesville’, 1997) YC.2001.a.5813

J. E. Stephens, Aubrey on Education (London, 1972) X.529/13983

B. Taylor, ‘Recent Acquisitions: a Rare Work by Jacobus Tevius’, eBLJ, 2003, Article 5

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 Violæi... 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 Orléans. The printed work, entitled Reverendi in Christo Patris D. D. Michaelis Violæi... tumulus, published by Saturnin and Fabien Hotot in Orléans 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 Violæi... 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 Violæi... 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 Orléans 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 Violæi... 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 Riché) 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 Orléans 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 Léonard Campistron, who dedicated the book to Cardinal Richelieu. Cabot makes a profuse use of lay and religious authorities, in particular Jean Bodin’s République and Niccolò Machiavelli. A learned scholar and jurist, Cabot is a pioneer of political science and promotes in his work a centralised and moderate monarchy.

Irène Fabry-Tehranchi, Curator Romance collections

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

27 November 2016

‘Our only epic poet…’: Emile Verhaeren (1855-1916)

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Et le lent défilé des trains funèbres
Commence, avec leurs bruits de gonds
Et l’entrechoquement brutal de leurs wagons,
Disparaissait – tels des cercueils – vers les ténèbres.

These lines from Emile Verhaeren’s poem Plus loin que les gares, le soir’, with their evocation of a ‘slow parade of gloomy trains’ vanishing ‘like coffins’ into the distance, may be read as uncannily prophetic. Not only does it evoke the atmosphere of the stations throughout Europe where troop-trains would pull out to carry soldiers to the front, but also the one where, on 27 November 1916, the poet met his own end. Returning from Rouen to his home in Paris after speaking to a gathering of Belgian exiles and refugees, he tried to board the train too quickly, missed his footing, and fell beneath its wheels, dying shortly afterwards on the platform.

He was born on 21 May 1855 in Sint Amands, a riverside village on the Scheldt, at a time when the great canal system which had sustained trade throughout Flanders was already in decline, leaving his native country to become more and more of a backwater. Yet despite his decision to write in French and to move to Paris in 1898, the rhythms of the Flemish language and his love for a landscape dotted with disused windmills and the people who lived among them coloured his poetry throughout his life.

Verhaeren reading 11840.p.8
Verhaeren engrossed in a book, portrait from Albert de Bersaucourt, Conférence sur Émile Verhaeren (Paris, 1908.) 11840.p.8

After graduating in 1874 from the Collège Sainte Barbe in Ghent and studying law at the University of Louvain (1875-81), Verhaeren allied himself with the poets and artists who gathered round Max Waller, poet and founder of the journal La Jeune Belgique (P.P.4479.b.). Two years later Les XX, a group of twenty Belgian artists and designers, was formed, and drew Verhaeren into a circle of new friends and a career as an art critic. His essays for L’Art moderne (P.P.1803.laf.), also founded in 1881, established his reputation and brought him in contact with Auguste Rodin, Odilon Redon and other contemporary artists, many of whom supplied illustrations for his work. At the same time, as Symbolism gained ground in Belgium, his admiration for the great Flemish, Dutch and Spanish painters of the Golden Age was undiminished.

Verhaeren Flamandes 011483.c.54
 Title-page of the first edition of Verhaeren’s first volume of poetry, Les Flamandes (Brussels, 1883) 011483.c.54.

Nor was he merely a local figure; as his first volume of poetry, Les Flamandes was followed by many others and also by plays, he gained a readership which extended across Europe, especially when such distinguished literary figures as Edmund Gosse and Arthur Symons began to translate and promote his work in Britain. In Russia the poet Valery Bryusov, a distinguished translator of Homer and Virgil, performed a similar service for Verhaeren. The British Library also possesses an exquisite volume of poems by Verhaeren with paintings by the Japanese artist Kwasson, as well as an almanac (1895; K.T.C.8.a.9) in which Theo van Rysselberghe’s illustrations accompanied Verhaeren’s verses.

Verhaeren Images japonaises 15234.a.5. pagoda

Above: Poem by Verhaeren with Kwasson’s illutration, from Images japonaises (Tokyo, 1906) 15234.a.5. Below: Cover of Almanach. Cahier de vers d'Emile Verhaeren. Ornementé par Théo van Rysselberghe.(Brussels, 1895) KTC.8.a.9

Verhaeren Almanach KTC.8.a.9. cover

 Above all, however, it was Stefan Zweig who brought Verhaeren’s work before a wider audience as he championed it in the German-speaking world. Not only did Zweig spend many holidays with Verhaeren and his wife, the artist Marthe Massin, who was the subject of some of the poet’s finest love lyrics, but he translated his works, wrote a biography which soon became the standard text on Verhaeren, and collected a number of manuscripts, two of which which feature in the British Library’s Stefan Zweig Collection.

Zweig_ms_194_f001r
Page from the manuscript of Verhaeren’s poem ‘Le meunier’, ([c. 1895]), BL Zweig MS 194, f1r . Verhaeren presented the manuscript to Stefan Zweig in 1908.

In the summer of 1914 Zweig, Rainer Maria Rilke and the publisher Anton Kippenberg of the Insel Verlag  were already discussing a German version of Verhaeren’s collected works when the outbreak of war put an end to the project and also to the friendship. Increasingly aghast at the devastation of Belgium during the German invasion, including the destruction of Louvain, where he had studied, and ancient libraries and art treasures, Verhaeren devoted himself to publishing polemics and denouncing German brutality. However, he was beginning to revise this uncompromising position in the interests of international cultural unity when he met his death.

Verhaeren in 1910 010664.l.36
Verhaeren in 1910 from Stefan Zweig, Émile Verhaeren, sa vie, son œuvre (Paris, 1910) 010664.l.36.

Described by André Gide as ‘our only epic poet’, Verhaeren was in many ways a man of contradictions. Though always maintaining his Belgian roots, he travelled widely, and in London in particular he found the image of the ‘tentacular city’ of the industrial era, described in Les Villes tentaculaires (1895), sucking humanity and the landscape alike into a world of degradation. Yet he realised that the old world of the sleepy Flemish countryside had had its day, and strove to find positive aspects in the modern world. Infused with the spirit of nature which he loved so well, his late poem Novembre est clair et froid may serve as a postscript to his life:

Tout est tranquille enfin, et la règle est suivie.
Des mes longs désespoirs, il ne me reste rien.
Où donc le vieux tourment, où le regret ancient?
Un soleil apaisé se couche sur ma vie.

(All is peace at last, and the rule is kept.
Of my lengthy despairs nothing remains.
Where then the old torment, where the old regret?
Upon my life a calm sun sets.)

(Translation by Will Stone, from, Emile Verhaeren, Poems (Todmorden, 2014; YC.2014.a.14474).

Susan Halstead,  Content Specialist (Humanities & Social Sciences), Research Engagement.

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 Vocabulário 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, & criaçaõ 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-nährung (Nuremberg, 1679). 445.c.15.

The silkworm was fêted 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

11 November 2016

Afire for peace: Henri Barbusse’s Le Feu (1916)

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The family of Henri Barbusse originated from a part of France with a strong radical tradition. He was born in Asnières-sur-Seine in 1873 to an English mother who died when Henri was three years old and a father whose Protestant forebears had lived in the hamlet of Anduze, near Alès, as far back as the 17th century. The Protestants of the Cévennes had suffered repeated persecution, and Adrien Barbusse, a journalist and theatre critic on Le Siècle, was anti-clerical and anti-monarchist by conviction. Not surprisingly, his son grew up to be an atheist, humanist and socialist, who, at the time of the Dreyfus affair, was convinced of the accused’s innocence. Henri wrote articles for La Paix par le Droit supporting international arbitration in place of war, and was also an enthusiastic supporter of Esperanto as a means to this end.

Barbusse portrait Lariviere YF.2010.a.19040
Portrait of Henri Barbusse from Eklumo en la abismo (Düsseldorf, 1923; British Library YF.2010.a.19040) a translation into Esperanto of  La Lueur dans l'abîme. (Paris, 1920; 08007.ee.6)

His earliest literary efforts were in poetry rather than political journalism, and in 1892 his entry for a poetry competition launched by L’Echo de Paris attracted the attention of the renowned poet Catulle Mendès, whose daughter Hélyonne he subsequently married. His first collection of poems, Pleureuses (Paris, 1895; reprinted 1920: 011483.c.74) was followed in 1908 by his first novel, L’Enfer (W16/3331), the story of a young bank clerk from the provinces who, bored and lonely in his dingy Paris lodgings, observes his neighbours through a crack in the wall. The sense of pessimism and human isolation which permeates its pages reflects the author’s awareness of the nationalism and militarism with which France was riddled, as destructive as the cancer destroying the body of one of the characters.

How prophetic this insight had been became clear with the outbreak of war in 1914. Although aged 41 and suffering from a lung condition, Barbusse did not hesitate to enlist, and in December 1914 joined the 231st infantry regiment, serving as a stretcher-bearer in the front line. Transferred to Artois, he was twice mentioned in despatches for bravery before dysentery and chest problems caused him to be invalided out into a desk job in 1916. With time to reflect on his experiences, he began work on the book nowadays regarded as his masterpiece – Le Feu.

Barbusse Le feu 12548.tt.32. cover
Cover of Le Feu (Paris, 1916) 12548.tt.32

It was a shrewd move to publish the novel in serial form in L’Oeuvre, for this enabled Barbusse to outwit another enemy: censorship. His raw and outspoken portrayal of life in the trenches was calculated to offend the sensibilities of those who entertained sentimental notions of glorious death on the battlefield, not least by his unsparing use of the ‘gros mots’ employed by the common soldiers – farmhands, shopkeepers, manual labourers – experiencing the monotony, squalor and misery of life under enemy bombardment. With a blend of black humour and clinical precision he describes the coarse jokes and unexpected camaraderie of men all too conscious that at any time they may end up like the muddied, seared and mutilated remnants of humanity whose scattered limbs lie all around them. The first-aid post provides scant relief; the overtaxed doctors, trying to stretch their meagre resources to deal with the carnage confronting them, can do little to treat the horrific injuries of hundreds of casualties.

In Chapter 23, the narrator and his comrades spend a few days on leave in Paris, a completely different world where they encounter pen-pushers, comfortable in reserved occupations, and gushing women with romantic visions of young heroes rushing to die with a smile on their lips. The narrator swiftly realizes that there is little point in trying to convey to them any idea of the true nature of war – the purpose, as it were, of Barbusse’s novel - and the closing pages reveal an army of mud-caked ghosts stumbling about in the devastated landscape, ‘like the Cyranos or Don Quixotes that they still are’, as they acknowledge that they were no more than ‘honest killers. (…) The act of killing is always ignoble – necessary sometimes, but always ignoble’. In the final paragraph, a solitary voice declares, ‘If this present war had advanced progress by a single step, its miseries and massacres will count for little’, as a single ray of light breaks through the storm-clouds, `proof none the less that the sun exists’.

Barbusse portrait Muter 08282.a.40.
Portrait of Barbusse from Lettre aux intellectuels (Rome, 1921; 08282.a.40).

The novel inevitably provoked strong and frequently hostile reactions, but its significance was rapidly recognized, and in December 1916 Barbusse received a letter informing him that it had won the Prix Goncourt. It would pave the way for other outstanding works based on wartime experiences, including Roland Dorgelès’s Les Croix de bois (Paris, 1919; 012547.aa.12) and Erich Maria Remarque’s Im Westen nicht Neues (Berlin, 1929; W13/8499). Barbusse himself became, in 1917, the co-founder of the Association républicaine des anciens combattants (ARAC) and a supporter of the Russian Revolution, making several journeys to the USSR and writing a biography of Stalin (Staline. Un monde nouveau vu à travers un homme: Paris, 1935; 20003.a.24). That same year, he died suddenly, aged 62, on 30 August during a visit to Moscow (some sources claimed that he was poisoned on Stalin’s orders, although his long-standing pulmonary trouble makes the official cause of death – pneumonia – at least plausible). He was also, however, one of the founders of the pacifist Amsterdam-Pleyel movement, and a prominent member of the Front populaire, attracting huge crowds to pay their last respects when, on 7 September 1935, he was buried close to the Mur des Fédérés in the cemetery of Père Lachaise.

Barbusse Le feu 12548.tt.32. dedication
Barbusse’s dedication of Le feu

Le Feu bears a dedication to the memory of Barbusse’s comrades who fell beside him at Crouy and on Hill 119. Within a month of his joining his regiment, around half the men in his unit were killed on the front near Soissons. On Armistice Day, whatever Barbusse’s subsequent political views, it is fitting to remember not only those soldiers and the fallen on both sides but also his testimony to them as a moral witness.

Susan Halstead Content Specialist (Humanities and Social Sciences) Research Engagement