Students’ Civil War Research on Display in Rauner Library

Students in Professor Colleen Boggs’s “Civil War Literatures” senior seminar this spring used a wide range of materials held in Rauner Special Collections Library to extend their study of literature beyond poetry and prose of the era. Their work has culminated in three exhibitions currently on display in Rauner.

“‘We love to tie our exhibit spaces to student projects,’ says Special Collections Librarian Jay Satterfield. ‘It offers students a whole new way to present their research. Student-curated exhibits offer a real-world challenge by demanding that students communicate their ideas to the general public in a meaningful way. This is something that many people in the academic world find very difficult but is so essential to what we do.'”

Read the full article, published 6/12/15 by Dartmouth Now.

Misappropriation

In 1941, Budd Schulberg ’36 published his first novel: What Makes Sammy Run? As a child of the studios (his father had been head of Paramount), and a frustrated screenwriter, he unleashed a torrent of criticism on Hollywood in his novel about the rise of Sammy Glick. The novel became a bestseller in the United States and has often been pointed to as the great American novel about Hollywood.

Schulberg knew he was taking a risk when he published the novel. It was destined to offend many of the most powerful people in Hollywood. But he did not anticipate that the novel would become fodder for the Nazi propaganda machine. Sammy Glick, the novel’s offensive, back-stabbing anti-hero, was Jewish. The Nazis picked up the story and produced a translation edited to highlight the offenses of Jews in Hollywood and portray Sammy as the quintessential American Jew. Then they published it serially in the popular Berliner Illustriere Zeitung where Schulberg’s words were turned against the Jewish people.

Ironically, Budd and his brother Stuart were later employed by the U.S. military to splice together film footage to be used against Nazi war criminals in Nuremberg. Their work was made particularly effective by their juxtaposition of Nazi propaganda with scenes of atrocities. For Schulberg, the appropriation of Nazi propaganda must have been a particularly sweet form of personal revenge.

To see how Sammy looked in 1942 Berlin, ask for MS-978, Box 6, Folder 4. And, as a reminder, our current exhibition, Budd Schulberg and the Scripting of Social Change, runs through January 30, 2015 in the Class of 1965 Galleries. And, for more on Schulberg, see these postings from August 9, 2011 and November 4, 2014.

Strange Bedfellows: Ezra Pound and Robert Frost

Frost-Pound posterWe don’t usually associate presenting rare and unique materials in a barn surrounded by the scent of freshly baled hay, but that’s what two Dartmouth librarians did on August 11th at the Frost Farm in Derry, New Hampshire. Laura Braunstein, Librarian for English and Writing, and Jay Satterfield, Special Collections Librarian, presented “Strange Bedfellows: Ezra Pound and Robert Frost” as part of the Frost Farm’s Summer Literary series.

The program focused on the relationship between literary contemporaries Robert Frost and Ezra Pound. When Ezra Pound was committed to Saint Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital to avoid treason charges following World War II, Robert Frost drew on their shared literary network to secure his release in 1958.

We will retell the story of Frost’s stormy relationship with Pound through letters and other documents from the Robert Frost Collection at Dartmouth College’s Rauner Special Collections Library this Thursday, October 16th, at 4:00 in the Current Periodicals Room of Baker Library, followed by a tour of the Rauner Library exhibit “Corresponding Friendships: Robert Frost’s Letters” and a reception. The event is sponsored by the Friends of the Dartmouth College Library and is free and open to the public.

Dalí, Psychoanalysis & Dante’s Divine Comedy

During the 1950s, Salvador Dalí began working on a series of watercolor illustrations to accompany Dante’s Divine Comedy. These illustrations, which follow the trajectory of Dante’s journey through hell, purgatory and heaven, were commissioned by the Italian government to mark the 700th anniversary of Dante’s birth in 1965. But when word got out that a Spaniard instead of an Italian had been recruited to create the artistic tribute to one of Italy’s greatest literary legacies, a general public outcry broke out, pressuring the government to revoke the commission. Undeterred, Dalí pushed forward on his own to complete the series, and found enthusiastic support from the French publisher Joseph Forét. The project was eventually taken up and completed by the French publishing firm Les Heures Claires, which released Dalí’s work in 1965 as a suite of limited edition prints to accompany an exquisitely letter-pressed, six-volume set of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

The prints consist of one hundred color woodcuts, which carefully recreate Dalí’s watercolors, capturing their subtle washes of color and delicate linear drawing. It took the woodcut artists over five years to hand-carve 3,500 wooden blocks. Throughout the printing process, anywhere from twenty to as many as thirty-seven separate blocks were needed to reproduce each individual watercolor.

Dalí’s illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy are far from a literal engagement with the medieval Italian text. Implementing a psychoanalytic lens, Dalí extracts the metaphoric potential of Dante’s poetry. Dalí’s aesthetic idiom to represent dreams versus reality derives from explorations of the unconscious and subconscious.

Most of the Inferno and Purgatorio prints contain motifs referencing the elementary nature of human drives. Dali’s surrealist practice translates man’s sins and frailties into unconscious drives. Crutches, bones perforating skin, soft or crystallized bodies, scatological and cannibalistic metamorphoses abound in his interpretation of the medieval text. For instance, Dalí’s interpretation of the twenty-eighth canto in Inferno, “The Hypocrites,” plays with the crutch motif, with the naked Caiaphas nailed to the ground. In this print, the crutches indicate social weakness, flaccidity and vulnerability, but most importantly, the evil speeches of hypocrisy. One of the deceitful tongues, which a hypocrite is known to have several of, has been overused and hangs limply over a crutch. Caiaphas grasps desperately at another tongue as he simultaneously clutches his innards spilling from his body. The remaining two tongues are nailed to the floor.

Another illustration that draws heavily from psychoanalysis and surrealism is the print accompanying the first canto in Purgatorio. In this print, “The Fallen Angel” examines the drawers of his body. This iconography recalls the famous 1936 Venus de Milo with Drawers. Dalí used this sculpture, as well as the fallen angel illustration, to symbolize the ways in which Freud’s analytical tools could be used to scrutinize the human soul.

Our copy is currently uncatalogued. So, to take a look at Dalí’s surrealist illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy, come to Rauner and ask for it by name.

A Comic Tour of Japan

Legend has it that Japanese author Jippensha Ikku (1765-1831) spent so much money drinking that he could not afford to furnish his home. Instead, he simply hung pictures of furniture he would have bought. One New Year’s, when he found himself without proper holiday attire, he offered a visitor a bath and took off with the man’s nice clothes to pay some visits of his own. And on his deathbed, he had firecrackers secretly stowed in his funeral pyre, to go out with a bang, if you will.

Sadly, these tales are probably untrue, a result of Jippensha being conflated with his clownish characters. Yaji and Kita, the traveling duo in his novel Footing It along the Tōkaidō Road, are always trying to trick their way into free meals and free rides, and into the beds of attractive young witches. Usually their schemes backfire. For instance, in a meta-referential moment, Yaji boasts to a local that he is in fact the famous writer Jippensha Ikku, researching for an upcoming book called (you guessed it) Footing It along the Tōkaidō Road. The local is impressed and treats Yaji at his home, but when a letter arrives from the real Jippensha, Yaji is forced admit his deception and flee.

At the time, the book functioned both as an entertaining story and as an informational travelogue, sketching out the varying customs and scenery along the eastern coast. Rauner’s edition features 60 full-page illustrations by print maker Tamenobu Fujikawa. The landscapes, which often dwarf the characters, provide moments of pause to accompany the fast-paced narrative. The prints’ detailed use of patterns is impressive, especially considering that each color had to be carved from a separate block of wood and perfectly aligned. Such work was done not by the artist alone but by a team who specialized in each stage of the printmaking process. As the book goes on, you can see the level of detail on the faces change, reflecting differing interpretations of the artist’s original drafts.

If you can’t read Japanese, you’re not alone. Illiterate Japanese in the nineteenth century would commonly buy books just for the printed illustrations, too. But unlike them, you can view this one online from our Digital Library Program, or ask for Rare Book PL797 D62 1800z.

Surrealists Inspired by Lautréamont

Isidore-Lucien Ducasse (1846-1870) was a Uruguayan-born French poet who, under the pseudonym Comte de Lautréamont, published Les Chants de Maldoror in 1869. Although he died as a relatively unknown writer, his works resurfaced and became a crucial inspiration for the burgeoning surrealist movement in the early twentieth century. It was while reading Les Chants de Maldoror that French surrealist André Breton discovered the singular phrase that became foundational to the surrealist doctrine of objective chance: “as beautiful as the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table.”

This metaphor captures one of the most important principles of surrealist aesthetic: the enforced juxtaposition of two completely alien realities that challenges an observer’s preconditioned perception of reality. German surrealist Max Ernst would also refer to Lautréamont’s sewing machine and umbrella to define the structure of the surrealist painting as “a linking of two realities that by all appearances have nothing to link them, in a setting that by all appearances does not fit them.”

Lautréamont’s prose poem is comprised of six cantos that recount the epic of the anti-hero Maldoror who seeks to combat the forces of God and humanity. The work is full of sadistic, cynical passages that work in conjunction with ironic references to classical authors such as Homer, Dante, and Shakespeare. Surrealists identified themselves with Lautréamont’s use of black humor and celebrated the ways in which he defied convention, ridiculed values and standards, and challenged the construct of absolute reason.

Belgian surrealist René Magritte drew a series of full-page illustrations and vignettes in a caricatural style for a 1948 edition of Les Chants de Maldoror that can be found here at Rauner. To read the famous passage from Les chants de Maldoror that inspired André Breton to represent surrealism as “the chance encounter of a sewing machine and an umbrella on an operating table,” ask for Illus M276d and turn to page 166.

Colonial Edition

And another thing… the book inside that box with noxious chemicals. The reason we took a look in the box in the first place is because the book within is a “colonial edition” put out by George Bell and Sons. Colonial editions were a ploy used by British publishers to protect their market share in the colonies by offering current literature at cheaper prices.

This book is part of Bell’s “Indian and Colonial Library” of books “issued for circulation in India and the Colonies only.” We have another colonial edition of another Crane novel, Active Services (London: William Heinemann, 1900), that states more boldly “Issues for sale in the British Colonies and India, and not to be imported into Europe or the United States of America.” The result was to stunt local production and maintain British publishing dominance.

Ask for Crane PS1449.C85 L34 1902.

Book Protectors, Inc.

We found a new one this week. Our copy of the “Colonial Edition” of Stephen Crane’s Last Words (London and Bombay: George Bell and Sons, 1902) is housed in a Masonite box painted yellow with a faux spine tricked out in red leather. The box alone is an oddity, with a sliding top to allow access to the book inside. Then we saw what was inside the box other than the book…

Two strips of white tape manufactured by “Book Protectors, Inc. Lake Helen, Florida.” The strips each have three dots over small circular wells. The instructions for one say “Pierce Dots to make Anti-Mildew wells operative,” the other says “Pierce Dots to make Insecticide wells operative.”

Oooh, who knows what nasty chemicals reside under the (thankfully) non-pierced dots? Of course, if ever you needed protection from mildew and insects, it would be in Florida. We recommend washing your hands after using this one. Ask for Crane PS1449.C85 L34 1902.

Bloomsbury Trifecta

We have written about the aura of the Hogarth edition of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, but our recent acquisition of the first book Leonard and Virginia Woolf produced at Hogarth Press is positively spine tingling. Two Stories (Richmond: Hogarth Press, 1917) is a simple 32-page, pamphlet-style book. The wrapper appears to be a blue woven wallpaper (but we can’t tell for sure) loosely sewn on to protect the text block and add a bit of decorative appeal. The book has the feel of two people trying to figure out how to wed their new-found book aesthetic with their literary style.

It offers a perfect entry point into the Bloomsbury group: our copy belonged to Virginia’s sister, the artist Vanessa Bell; the woodcuts are by another Bloomsbury artist, Dora Carrington; and, of course, its authors are key figures in the group. Two Stories also reflects their struggle for artistic independence as Hogarth was founded in part to free Virginia and Leonard from the conservative tastes of the literary publishing establishment. It gave them complete control–they could even bind in wallpaper if they saw fit.

To see this unique window into an artistic flowering, ask for Rare PR1309.S5W6 1917.

Kauffer Illustrates T.S. Eliot’s Ariel Poems

Between 1927 and 1931, the publishing firm Faber and Gwyer issued a series of illustrated poems called the Ariel Poems, named after Shakespeare’s sprite. Several prominent English writers contributed to the series including T.S. Eliot, W. B. Yeats, Thomas Hardy, G. K. Chesterton, D. H. Lawrence, Siegfried Sassoon, Vita Sackville-West, and Edith Sitwell. Each pamphlet had more or less the same simple format: a black and white artist print on the cover and a colored print inside followed by a poem.

What is most striking about these deceptively simple pamphlets is the role the illustrations play to complement and vastly enrich the poetry. Edward McKnight Kauffer, one of England’s most prolific and influential advertising poster artists during the 1920s and 30s, illustrated five of the poems T.S. Eliot wrote for the Ariel series. These poems were “The Journey of the Magi” (1927), “A Song for Simeon” (1928), “Marina” (1930), “Triumphal March” (1931), and later when the series was revived in the 1950s, “The Cultivation of Christmas Trees” (1954).

Kauffer was renowned for his avant-garde graphic design and poster art for companies such as London Underground Railways (1915–40), Shell UK Ltd., the Daily Herald and British Petroleum (1934–6). His work incorporated techniques and aesthetics from numerous modernist movements including cubism, futurism, and surrealism. These influences are evident in his illustrations for T.S. Eliot’s Ariel Poems with their whimsical play with geometric form and abstraction.

To see Kauffer’s illustrations of T.S. Eliot’s poems, ask for Val 817 E42 X3, Val 817 E42 W7, Val 817 E42 S2, Val 817 E42 P451, and Rare Book PS 3509.L43 M3 1930.