Language and politics in early modern France: Rebecca Kingston, Royal Bank of Canada Foundation Fellow

Rebecca Kingston’s research draws on materials in Bodleian Rare Books collections that illuminate emerging patterns of political language and political ideas in early modern Europe. Here are three of the titles she has consulted, and will discuss in her upcoming Royal Bank of Canada Foundation Lecture at the Weston Library, ‘Eloquence vault mieulx que force’: Vernacular Translations of Plutarch and Political Argument in Renaissance France. [26 May]

Alciatus, Emblems (1536)

Alciatus, Emblems (1536). Bodleian Douce A 132

The Roman historian Lucian described a Celtic god, Ogmios, as ‘the Gallic Hercules’. Alciatus’s Emblems portrays ‘l’Hercule gaulois’ in a way that emphasises that the strength of this god is not in youth or bodily vigour, but in eloquence. A chain passes from the tongue of Ogmios to the ears of his followers. In the French translation by Jean LeFevre, the accompanying verse is titled ‘Eloquence vault mieux que force,’ and draws attention to  ‘… ce qui la marqu[er] de si grand gloire / Que mener gens enchainez a sa langue / Entendre veult: qu’il feist tant bien harengue / Que les Francois pour ses ditz de merveilles’

Claude de Seyssel, La grant monarchie de France (1519)

Claude de Seyssel, La grant monarchie de France (1519) Bodleian (OC) 237 f.134

The cleric and diplomat Claude de Seyssel (1468-1540) translated Plutarch’s Lives of Antony and Demetrius into the French vernacular: these were individuals whose seeming virtues degenerated, in the changing context of their own times, into political vices. In acknowledging the dangers of kingship conceived as personal rule, Seyssel’s work of political advice to the French king Louis XII, La grant monarchie de France, differed from the writings of his contemporary Niccolo Machiavelli, in firmly placing the king within a necessary structure of the Church, laws, and administration.

Geoffroy Tory, Champfleury (1529)

Geoffroy Tory, Champ fleury (1529) Bodleian Douce T 281

Geoffroy Tory (born c. 1480) invoked the theme of ‘l’Hercule gaulois’ in his famous work Champ fleury (1529) as part of a broader defense of the beauty and force of the French vernacular. As official printer to King Francis I, and the translator of several classical works into French, including writings by Plutarch, Tory was also deemed to have been influential in the 1539 Ordinance of Villers-Cotterêts wherein all legal acts and contracts had to be issued in French.

Rebecca Kingston is Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto. She works in the history of French political thought (1500-1800) and on the emotions in political theory. She is author of Montesquieu and the parlement of Bordeaux (1996), Public Passion (2011) and has edited a number of volumes in both of her areas of research. As RBC Bodleian Fellow she is working on a monograph looking at the changing conceptions of the ‘public’/ ‘la chose publique’ through vernacular translations of Plutarch and early modern French and English political theory. Her talk will explore the concept of la chose publique through the Plutarch translations and political reflections of early 16th century political thinkers in France.

 

 

Part of the robe worn by Garrick as Richard III

Bodleian Vet. A6 c.172/1

A bound volume of playbills from 1815-16 contains ‘Part of the robe worn by Garrick as Rich III’

Two hundred years ago, Shakespeare’s birth/death day was marked by a performance at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, a pageant of characters from 16 of Shakespeare’s plays, and a recitation of the ‘Ode to Shakespeare’ written by David Garrick (1717-1779) for the Jubilee staged at Stratford in 1769.

A playbill for April 23, 1816, one in a bound volume [Vet. A6 c.172], shows that Mr Rae and Miss Grimani took the roles of the star-crossed lovers. The European Magazine was full of praise for Miss Grimani’s performance: of particular interest for the Bodleian’s exhibition, Shakespeare’s Dead, is the description of Juliet’s death: “Her last anxious effort to stagger to the dead body of her lord, after stabbing herself, and the sudden arrest of death, which compelled her to fall backwards, were finely conceived and beautifully executed.”

The owner of the volume attached to the back of the previous item a souvenir of Garrick himself: a piece of cloth, with sequins and silver embroidery, labelled ‘Part of the robe worn by Garrick as Rich. III’, a role for which the actor was famous, and in which he was famously portrayed in a painting by William Hogarth in 1745; though in the engraving by John Dixon from 1772 he wears a robe that more resembles the scrap preserved here.

Bodleian Master classes in 2015-16: retrospect

Auct M 3.14 fol. 12 r_watermarkThe master classes programme presents scholars discussing materials from Bodleian special collections. In 2015-16 the programme included discussions of the letter forms, musical notation, provenance, and artistic content of Bodleian manuscripts and printed books, including the ’12 millionth book’, acquired in 2015, Shelley’s Poetical Essay.

21 October 2015: Stephen Greenblatt (Harvard/Humanitas Visiting Professor) The rise and fall of Adam and Eve

18 January 2016: Irene Ceccherini (Bodleian Library/Lincoln College) The palaeography of the Latin classics in 14th-century Italy  

25 Jan 2016: Michael Rossington (Newcastle) Shelley’s Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things: some manuscript contexts

1 February 2016: Elizabeth Solopova (Faculty of English/Brasenose College) The Wycliffite Bible: beloved but banned bestseller

8 February 2016: Jim McCue (independent) T.S. Eliot, Vivien and ‘F. M.’

15 February 2016: Daniela Mairhofer (University of Vienna) Manuscripts from German religious houses in the Bodleian

22 February 2016:  Benjamin Wardhaugh (All Souls, Music) Seventeenth-century musical manuscripts

29 February 2016: Eleanor Giraud (Faculty of Music/Lincoln College) Square chant notation: identifying and distinguishing scribes

7 March 2016: Deirdre Serjeantson (University of Essex, English)
Poetic miscellanies from the early modern period

Menaka PP Bora Performing the Treasures

On March 26, dancer Menaka PP Bora, Affiliated Artist at the Bodleian Libraries during 2015-16,  delivered a performance inspired by Bodleian collections and by the architecture of the Weston Library. Dancing high above the main public foyer of the building, Blackwell Hall, Dr Bora improvised a dance responding to the ‘floating gallery’, the reference area for the reading rooms on the library’s upper floors.

Descending to Blackwell Hall itself, Dr Bora performed dances inspired by one of the albums of Indian paintings, collected in the 19th century from Kolkata, which portrays Indian gods.MenakaPPBora_26 March_2_sm MenakaPPBora_gallerymontage_sm

Bibliographical Press at the Bodleian

In September 2015, the Bodleian’s Bibliography Room re-opened in the Old Bodleian Library, after a move from temporary quarters in the Story Museum, Oxford. The workshop is now housed in a ground-floor room, the Schola Musicae, opening from the Old Schools Quadrangle. Inside are five free-standing iron presses (four Albions and a Columbian)*, a number of table-top presses, and several composing frames, including three seventeenth-century frames, with a quantity of wooden and metal type.

The room hosts classes in hand-printing for students from Oxford and other universities, and regular workshops for families, adults, and primary school groups. One group from a local school printed a sonnet by Shakespeare; seven children set two lines each while their classmate created a linocut of the school emblem.

Many former students and visitors from other universities will remember that Paul W. Nash expertly shepherded the room through its previous incarnations in the New Library (now refurbished as the Weston Library) and in the Story Museum. His successor as superintendent of the press is Richard Lawrence, who teaches printing to university students and visiting groups and also supervises open sessions, when experienced printers are welcome to use the workshop, on Thursday evenings during term-times. Several projects initiated by students are underway, including the printing of Luther’s 95 theses, catalyst for the Reformation, in time for the 500th anniversary in 2017. Courses in printing history, practical printing, and letterpress printing, open to the public, are offered in June 2016.

This year the Bibliographical Press hosts an effort to gather copies of all of Shakespeare’s sonnets printed in 2016, the 400th anniversary of his death. A call for contributions of sonnets went out in January and was quickly answered by printers around the world. (http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/csb/sonnets2016 ) Though all 154 sonnets are now promised for the Bodleian Rare Books collection, anyone wishing to participate in the effort is invited to contact the Centre for the Study of the Book, e-mail bookcentre@bodleian.ox.ac.uk; the CSB will endeavour to announce and display sonnets printed in 2016 by any technique of relief printing.

*A further note on the presses contained in the room. These were reported by Philip Gaskell in the Journal of the Printing Historical Society no. 1, 1965:

“(1) Albion (demy), serial number 539, (1835), from the Daniel Press” [This was the press used by C.H.O. Daniel, Provost of Worcester College, from 1880-1906 and presented to the library in 1919.]

Tamarin Norwood, printweeting

Tamarin Norwood, printweeting on the Albion serial number 2919

“(2) [now removed] Albion (royal), serial number 2919, (1853), from the Ashendene Press” [The Bodleian Library Record Vol. 5, No. 6, Oct. 1956, reported the gift of “An Ashendene Press.  Mr Michael Hornby has presented to the Bibliography Room the Ashendene Press, the Albion used by his father from 1900 onwards. We are most grateful for the gift of this historic machine. It is a Royal, and Mr Davis is already planning to print bigger and better books.” But the Albion with serial number 2919 is what James Moran (1973) calls a ‘royal octavo‘, or card size press, and what John Southward (1884) calls a Quarto or Amateur press, with a platen of 10.25 x 7.75 inches, while a Royal is 26 x 20.5 inches.] [CORRECTION: The press referred to by Gaskell, indeed royal, is now at the Bridwell Library, Dallas Texas ,a  ‘Hopkinson & Cope Albion, serial number 2919, patent number 3325, 1853. This press belonged to Charles Harry St John Hornby and is referred to as the Bridwell-Ashendene Press‘.]

“(3) Albion (pot), serial number 4993, (1898), from the Moss Press”

To those recorded by Gaskell have been added more recently

(4) A Columbian, from the Samson Press

(5) An Albion, from the Gehenna Press

(6) A card-size Albion, maker Ullmer, number 2919

Sonnets 2016: the Bodleian Library collects 154 sonnets from presses around the world

Lucy Evans, Rare Books

From close to home and further afield, from Oxford to Moonshine Road, California, to New Delhi and Llandogo, hand-press printers across the world answered the call to print Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets.

An enthusiastic response meant all 154 sonnets were quickly assigned. The UK and the USA are the most heavily represented countries with particularly strong showing from Oxford, California and Iowa. Submissions are also expected from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy , Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Spain.

The printers involved range from large scale operations to university departments, not for profit organisations, the Virginia Arts of the Book Center , individuals printing at home and an ex-librarian from Australia.

The project is now well underway and we eagerly await parcels winging their way to the Bodleian from across the world. Congratulations to the Kings Bookshop, Callander, who were the first to submit sonnet 92, translated into Scots!

Follow the links to see some of the presses and people involved in this effort.

Pictures of sonnets in type and on the press, as these are received from the printers, can be seen on our twitter feed @bodleiancsb, #154sonnets

Calling all printers: Shakespeare’s Sonnets in 2016

Composing sticks at the ready

Composing sticks at the ready

In a cycle of 154 short, 14-line poems first published in 1609, William Shakespeare meditated on themes of love, death, and desire. During 2016, the Bodleian Libraries will be producing and collecting newly printed copies of each of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The Bodleian is seeking examples from hand-press printers worldwide made in this, the 400th year since the death of William Shakespeare.

Contributions of individual sonnets by Shakespeare, whether in English or in translation, will be welcome from printers up to the deadline of 30 September 2016. These should be created by hand, using any means of relief printing. Selected submissions, forming at least one complete collection of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets, will be added to the Bodleian’s permanent collection and the donors will be notified.

If you would like to join this effort, please see the Sonnets 2016 webpage.

Image of Sonnet 24 printed 23 Jan. 2016

Sonnet 24, a variant version with a comment by William Henry Fox Talbot, set and printed by Bodleian staff on 23 Jan. 2016

The Bodleian’s printing workshop in the Old Schools Quadrangle


The Bodleian’s Bibliographical Press is now located in the seventeenth-century Old Library, with an entrance from the Old Schools Quadrangle. Watched over by the statue of the Earl of Pembroke standing in the quad, the door marked ‘Schola Musicae’ opens onto a workshop housing five free-standing presses and the composing frames and type cases that support the teaching of hand-press printing. Here are a few of the things that have been going on since September —- ‘printweeting’: artist Tamarin Norwood composed 140-character messages, and we thought about the difference between characters and sorts — Oxford Open Doors on 12 September welcomed visitors to the room to see demonstrations of typesetting and printing — University of Oxford students learned to compose and print, working with Dickens and Martin Luther texts — at the Christmas Card printing session open to the public, participants were creative with lino cuts and with the display type and metalcut blocks in the room — the press produced a keepsake for the Bodleian’s 12 millionth book: a poem by Percy Shelley championing a free press.
For more information: bookcentre@bodleian.ox.ac.uk; tweet @theBroadPress

Visiting Fellowships at the Bodleian Libraries, for 2016-17

The Bodleian Libraries are now accepting applications for Visiting Fellowships to be taken up during academic year 2016-17.

Fellowships support periods of research in the Special Collections of the Bodleian Libraries. Fellows are hosted in the Visiting Scholars’ Centre at the Weston Library, where they join a lively research environment.

Details of the fellowship terms and application process can be found on our Fellowships webpage: http://www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/csb/fellowships.

For six of the named fellowships, the deadline for applications is Monday, 14 December 2015:
Humfrey Wanley Fellowships
Sassoon Visiting Fellowships
Bahari Visiting Fellowships in the Persian Arts of the Book
Byrne-Bussey Marconi Fellowships in the History of Science & Communications
David Walker Memorial Fellowships in Early Modern History
Albi Rosenthal Visiting Fellowships in Music

A new fellowship is now announced, with the deadline of Friday, 29 January 2016:
The Carr-Thomas-Ovenden Visiting Fellowship in English Literature

A list of current visiting fellows in academic year 2015-16 can be found here.

For further information, please e-mail Dr Michelle Chew at: fellowships@bodleian.ox.ac.uk.

And so to Bod… Antiquarian Booksellers visit the Bodleian’s Weston Library

Guest post from Laurence Worms of Ash Rare Books, who visited with a group from the Antiquarian Booksellers Association (ABA)

As part of our ongoing series of exchange visits between booksellers and rare book librarians (our friends and colleagues in the Rare Books and Special Collections Group of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals), a party of ABA members assembled in Oxford in mid November. Old haunts for me – parts of downtown Oxford almost unrecognisable after all these years, but beyond the city centre, up towards St Giles, things virtually unchanged in almost half a century. Far more young women students nowadays and far more bicycles (nothing less cool than a cyclist back in the ’sixties), but still recognisable Oxford types on every corner.
There were a dozen of us: ABA President Michael ‘Oscar’ Graves-Johnston; Brian Lake and Carol Murphy from Jarndyce; honorary member David Chambers; Sam Jonkers from Henley; Anke Timmerman and Mark James from Quaritch; Richard Wells from Teignmouth; Ann Gate (Waterfield’s); Tom and Sue Biro (Collectable Books), and myself. Slight chaos and confusion as we assembled in the Blackwell Hall at the Weston Library – two disparate tours scheduled to start at the same time. We were the quiet and well-behaved ones – no, really, we were – we couldn’t be much else in a hall named in honour of that great bookselling family, whose splendid shop still stands next door. Benjamin Henry Blackwell was ABA President in 1912, his son Sir Basil Blackwell in 1926.
The Weston Library is the new name of the New Bodleian Library on Broad Street, after its recent major makeover, rebuilding and refurbishment – renamed in honour of a £25 million donation given by the Garfield Weston Foundation toward its transformation (the Blackwell family chipped in £5 million too). The original 1930s book-stack has been moved down to the lowest basement level. The central stack has been rebuilt along with the installation of three floors of secure storage below ground level. The stone façade has been cleaned. New internal spaces have been created. There are now extra reading rooms and a fine public entrance hall. Above all, the Library is now equipped to store material in conditions laid down by the National Archives’ Standard for Record Repositories. This is critical in allowing the Library to continue to hold major archival collections accepted in lieu of tax and to receive vital funding.
Formally opened earlier in the year, we were to be given a guided tour behind the scenes. Rare Books Assistant Curator Lucy Evans led us first up to the Conservation and Collection Care Department . We were about to be impressed. At the first work-station, Sabina Pugh, the Senior Book Conservator, was working on a mediaeval manuscript of biblical exegesis rebound for Henry VIII – a manuscript presumably acquired and bound for the King at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries (1536-1541). Rebound in a regal mustard-coloured velvet, but now in need of work to allow safe handling and study. “I like to think Henry once handled and studied this book himself”, says Sabina.
Elsewhere, someone was working on an original Shelley notebook – and not just any notebook, but the one with the original draft of that ode which starts “O Wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being”. In another corner, work was being carried out on an extravagantly and exquisitely decorated Koran now starting to disintegrate – the vibrant and enticing green of the verdigris pigment the culprit, as so often. Lots of experimentation going on here with relatively new, virtually weightless and virtually transparent-in-use backing papers, and various types of adhesive. A mountain of thought before the intricate and time-consuming work can actually commence.
Fascinating for us booksellers and the source of some animated conversation later in the day. The whole thrust of library conservation is now towards as little intervention as possible – to render the material safe in handling but no more. No thought of restoration, refurbishment or replication of original glory – the Henrician binding to remain lacking some of its velvet, to remain lacking its original metal bosses – the repairs all visible and reversible. It’s a line of thought easy to understand: none of us would wish to intervene too far or to get things wrong. We have all seen disastrous examples of ill-conceived work – on the one hand, the clunky and charmless utilitarian rebinding which makes it fairly sure the book will not fall apart again, but leaves it almost impossible to open and deprives us of all sense of what it originally was, or, at the other extreme, the ruthless shearing off of catchwords and marginalia to present the book in the most finished and fashionable binding of the moment. Booksellers are often in a quandary here. We want to do the right thing, but we also want (and need) to sell the book. Our customers have their own expectations. We don’t exclude restoration or purely cosmetic repair. We don’t – at least most of us – exclude a complete rebinding in ‘period’ style or in a fine binding worthy of the text. Commercial binders can be exceedingly good at this – and there is, I believe, a duty on us all to ensure that the traditional skills of the bookbinder are kept alive. Perhaps time for a conference for all parties to exchange ideas and to attempt to achieve some kind of consensus about best (or at least allowable) practice?
Our tour continued with a special display of ‘treasures’ – chosen by the curators on hand to talk to us about them – some of their personal favourites, some prize recent acquisitions, etc. I was soon lost in contemplation of a wonderful recent bequest to the Bodleian – the exquisite ‘travelling library’ given to the young Prince Charles, later to become Charles I, in the early seventeenth-century. Sixty or so pocket books, worthy titles, the best of learning suitable for a prince’s education, uniformly bound and evidently intended to be a portable companion. So many questions unanswered: is the set complete, who assembled it and when, who bound the books – are these English bindings? French? – and, not least, where have the books been for most of the last four centuries, until they were put into their present red leather cases, made in the 1970s by Sangorski & Sutcliffe? What a research project in prospect.Dragging myself away from these adorable little books, I was soon equally lost in wonderment at the Bodleian copy of Shackleton’s extraordinary “Aurora Australis”, famous as the first book printed in the Antarctic, designed as a project to while away the long polar winter – but also, what I had never realised – a superb piece of printing in its own right.
Our afternoon ended with a complete tour of the building – up on the roof to catch the dreaming spires in an unexpected burst of late afternoon sunshine, a glimpse into the reading rooms and study areas, some encounters with the restored glories of the original 1930s fittings, furniture and ceilings designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (he of the Telephone Box and Battersea Power Station). A pleasant end to a very pleasant afternoon – thank you so much to Lucy Evans and her colleagues for organising things and taking so much effort to entertain us. Our turn next.