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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tilting at Windmills and Touring Dublin --All From the Comfort of your Chair

Who knows if the internet makes us smarter or dumber, but it sure is fun. Here are a couple of new items from across the web which have a bit more literary worth than your average video of dancing kittens.

Don Quixote:
Don Quixote was Dr. Rosenbach's favorite book and not only do we have many different editions (including the first, shown below) but we also have the only documents in Cervantes's hand on this side of the Atlantic.

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quixote de La Mancha. Madrid: por Juan de la Cuesta, 1605. C2 .C419d 605

If you love Don Quixote as much as Dr. R, you might enjoy the new Open Yale course on Cervantes' Don Quixote with Professor Roberto González Echevarría. For those of you not familiar with Open Yale, it consists of free videotaped courses put online by the college--you can watch online or download them, either from the site directly or through Itunes-U. The Don Quixote course consists of twenty four 75 minute lectures, proceeding chapter-by-chapter through the text. I'm currently in the midst of an Open Yale course on Roman architecture, but I'll definitely be adding this one to the queue.

Ulysses Seen: We've written about Robert Berry's Ulysses Seen on this blog before and displayed his drawings at the 2008 Bloomsday, but now the web comic version of Ulysses has started its second episode--Calypso. It is accompanied, as was Telemachus, by a wonderful Reader's Guide written by Rosenbach alums Janine Utell and Mike Barsanti. But wait a second, savvy Rosen-readers may be saying, Calypso is episode IV of Ulysses, not episode II-- what's going on? Here's Berry's explanation (see the full version here):

" Yes, well, it’s a long story. ULYSSES is a very big book filled with many intertwining stories, and it takes a rather long time to draw. But drawing it in comics, and releasing it as an educational/discussion based format on the iPad, means we’ve realized some new ways to look at the thing...

So we’ve decided to bring Mr Bloom into the picture early. We’ve decided to show the comparisons and contrasts between his world and Stephen’s right now in the front of our adaptation...

It’s still number four and you haven’t missed out on numbers two and three. We just thought it best, and maybe clearest in keeping with my own vision of the novel, that you get to see this part next. I believe the world Joyce portrays, the Dublin and so much more of Summer 1904, gets a bit easier through the eyes and insights of Leopold Bloom. And I believe the novel is illuminated better, and discussed that much more easily, by seeing Bloom and Stephen’s mornings together. For this reason, our next installment will collect and assemble episodes two and five into one massive chapter."

Pages of Calypso will be released until the episode is complete by Bloomsday, which is also when the iPad app will go live. So you could be the tech-savviest chap at Bloomsday--following along on your electronic gizmo as you hear the words of Joyce read out from the Rosenbach steps!

So what are your suggestions for enhancing your literary life through the Internet? Comment and let us know what sites you have found most interesting, helpful, or fun!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Guest Post by Susan Sklaroff: Annual Docent Trip

Two weeks ago, a group of our hardworking Rosenbach docents embarked on the annual docent trip. For the first time, this was an overnight adventure, with the Hudson River Valley as their destination. Rosenbach docent Susan Sklaroff has kindly given me permission to repost her blog entry about the excursion. Photographs are thanks to docents Jesse Ruhl and Barbara Zimmerman.

"I think one secret of a successful overnight trip is variety, and although three of our stops were museums, they were as different from each other as three museums could be.

We began with a visit to Sunnyside, Washington Irving's house in Tarrytown. It is a place of great charm, a kind of architectural emanation of the man, both romantic and welcoming. A cottage rather than the more usual mansion house-museum, its rooms seem cozy rather than small. Irving called it his "snuggery" and I, for one, was ready to move right in. Our tour was led by a guide in 19th-century costume, making us feel fortunate that the Rosenbach does not make that a requirement for us.

The next day we started off with the West Point Museum. In an imposing building on the edge of the campus, it was in the traditional mold. Visitors can go through the galleries on their own, but we were lucky enough to have the Director give us a personal tour. He was, of course, extremely knowledgeable -- but he was also sensitive to our group's interests. He knew that we preferred to learn about the history of the Military Academy as portrayed in the paintings on display rather than listen to a discussion about, say, the history of military helmets. We got to linger over some smashing examples of the Hudson Valley School as well as a full complement of portraits by early American masters.

That afternoon we went to nearby Storm King Art Center, where monumental modern sculptures are displayed outdoors in a natural setting of 500 acres. We had a beautiful day to explore the area by foot or to take the 40-minute tram tour.

Good destinations are essential for a good trip, but the pleasant, unexpected experiences help to make it memorable. On our first day, after Sunnyside, we went to the Antipodean Book Shop in Garrison, NY, which as its owner Dave Lilbrune says is an "old book" rather than a "rare book" store. It was an opportunity to pull 18th and 19th-century books off the shelf and page through them undisturbed and to talk about the book business with an expert. Beyond the bookstore on the banks of the Hudson, we got a chance to stroll with Dave and his boxer Winnie and get a view of West Point across the river.

And also thanks to Dave's recommendation, we had a superb dinner at the Garden Market, which opened especially for us on a Wednesday night. The only party in the place, we all sat around one table as dish after dish of locally-grown food (except for the salmon) was brought out and devoured. With plenty of good conversation and homemade apple pie for dessert, who could ask for more?"

Friday, May 13, 2011

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Here are a selection of floral tidbits from across the Rosenbach collection on this beautiful May day.

A wallpaper cover for a 1743 Poor Richard's pocket almanac.
[Benjamin Franklin], A pocket almanac for the year 1743. . . By R. Saunders, philom. Philadelphia: Printed by B. Franklin, [1742] 742p

A watercolor painted by Marianne Moore in 1932.

A real pressed flower picture, made in Germany, also from the Marianne Moore collection.

A satirical print by George Humphrey and George Cruikshank, poking fun at Napoleon's promise to return in violet season.
George Cruikshank, etcher, after a drawing by George Humphrey, The peddigree of Corporal Violet. H. Humphrey, 1815. 1954.1880.587

A needlepoint seat on an 18th-century Irish chair.
Unknown maker, chair. Probably Ireland, ca. 1760. 1954.153

John Tenniel's pencil drawing of Alice in the garden of live flowers, from Through the Looking Glass.
John Tenniel, The garden of live flowers. [1870 or 71]. 1954.38

A decorative surround for Mark the Evangelist in a 15th-century Book of Hours.
Horae, Paris use: manuscript on vellum. France, 15th century. MS 1057/29

Happy Spring!