Not So Saintly Patron

Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language (London: W. Strahan, 1755) is an authorial tour de force. That one person could possibly assemble a dictionary basically on his own of such a scope is astonishing. The two densely packed volumes took nine years of his life to write.

Johnson received patronage of a sort for his work. Besides receiving money from a group of booksellers who supported the project, he also secured Lord Chesterfield’s support through his Plan of a Dictionary (London: J. and P. Knapton, 1747). Chesterfield wrote an essay in support of the project, but in so doing, offended the sensitive Johnson. Johnson held a grudge and retaliated in a backhanded way in the dictionary itself. His first definition of “Patron” reads:

1. One who countenances, supports or protects. Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery.

Johnson buried a few other precious barbs in his text. He defines oats as “a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people.”

To see the Dictionary, ask for Rare PE1620.J6 1755. To see the Plan, ask for Val 825 J63 P69.

Winter Break

Things are pretty quiet here in Rauner Library since the students left for break.  We just have a few folks in doing some research, but the hustle of the term is past and the classrooms are empty. Hanover is cold and grey in their absence, but peaceful, too.

They all seemed pretty tired during finals week–wandering around in a daze, some in their pajamas. We like to imagine they are hunkered down now catching up on their sleep like in this lithographic image from Arthur de Capell Brooke’s Winter Sketches in Lapland (London: J. Murray, 1827).

If the Hanover winter gets you too down, come in and take a look by asking for Stef DL971.L2 B7.

North Britain or Scotland?

In the wake of the Scottish referendum, we thought we’d share a little gem in our collection that has varying degrees of connection to independence, Scotland, and Great Britain (although not to the West Lothian question). George Taylor and Andrew Skinner were Scottish surveyors from Aberdeen who initially rose to prominence through their careful mapping of the post road between London and Bath. For their next endeavor, in 1776, the two men published what amounted to the first road map ever made of Scotland.  Needless to say, this was also an important year for yet another group of oppressed colonists of England. Less than a decade later, Taylor and Skinner would journey west across the Atlantic to ply their trade in the new country of the United States of America.

The atlas consists of 62 plates, each containing three side-by-side sections of a long strip of road. All but one radiate outward from Edinburgh at a one inch to one mile scale. The atlas includes a detailed chart at the front of the book that gives the distances between each stage of the journey as well as the total distance from Edinburgh. In their explanation of the chart,Taylor and Skinner assure the nervous traveler that “There are good inns on all the Roads, with Post Chaises and Horses at every Stage, as far North as Inverness by Aberdeen,” an area with which they were well acquainted. In closing, the two express their confidence that the public road system will be soon completed in the north because “a Spirit of Improvement prevails throughout Scotland.” One might venture to say that the recent referendum suggests that such a spirit still lives on in the hearts and minds of the Scottish people, even though there may be some differences of opinion as to what form that improvement should take.

To see our copy of Taylor and Skinner’s Survey of the Roads of North Britain or Scotland, walk into Rauner and ask to see Rare G1826.P2 T3 1776. If you aren’t able to come by but would like to see more, the National Library of Scotland has scanned the book in its entirety and made it available online to the public.

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.

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.

Building Bridges

As Independence Day fast approaches, it is hard not to feel a sense of anticipation in the air. Perhaps it emerges from imminent firework displays, the onset of long summer days, remembrance of our Founding Fathers, or familial traditions of hot dogs, hamburgers, and all things red, white, and blue.
Thomas Paine and his work of propaganda, Common Sense, is often overshadowed by these familiar representations of Independence Day. Nonetheless, he is an important figure in America’s early history. Paine was an Englishman who immigrated to the United States in 1774. A publicist, writer and orator, Paine soon became very active in the fight for independence upon his arrival in Philadelphia.  In 1776, Paine published his pamphlet criticizing the British government and calling on the colonists to declare their independence and fight for freedom. 

Common Sense became a sensation throughout the colonies and among the higher ranks of political greats such as George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. The relatively short work is remembered for its influential ideas and its impact on the American Revolution. For Paine and Americans in agreement with his arguments, independence was a want, a necessity, and, above all, their right. Rauner Special Collections Library has a copy of the tenth edition of Common Sense from 1776, the same year that the pamphlet was originally printed. The fact that a tenth edition was printed during its first year of publication demonstrates its true popularity. This particular copy was also quite popular with its previous owners: the wear and tear on the pages resembles a beloved novel that has been read and re-read.
In addition to his interest in politics, Paine was also very focused on the sciences and is credited for experimenting with marsh gas, a smokeless candle and the construction of bridges. It is his passion for bridge-building that is fascinating to us here at Rauner. In our manuscript collections, we have a handwritten letter from Paine to Benjamin Franklin, dated June 14, 1786,  that references Paine’s homegrown bridge models. Franklin at the time had retired from his role as Ambassador to France and had assumed his new role as Governor of Pennsylvania. It can be concluded from the letter and some additional research that Paine and Franklin had a relationship akin to mentor and protege, which can be traced back to Paine’s first arrival in America: Franklin had met Paine abroad and had written a letter of introduction for him in the early 1770s. The relationship formed during those early days of revolution lasted into Franklin’s later years and was close enough to warrant Paine seeking Franklin’s observations on his bridge models; the two men evidently shared a passion for more than politics.
To see our copy of Paine’s Common Sense, ask for Rare E211 .P126 1776.

To read Paine’s letter to Benjamin Franklin, ask for Ticknor MS 786364.1.

Posted for Julia Logan, a library school student at Simmons College who is Rauner’s Public Services summer intern.

The Friday Fowl at Rauner

As we have mentioned in a previous post, Rauner Library owns an incomplete copy of James Audubon’s Birds of America that previously belonged to Dartmouth’s favorite son, Daniel Webster 1801. In years past, we have enjoyed displaying various birds depending upon the particular holiday, such as a turkey at Thanksgiving or a crow at Halloween. However, beginning in Winter Term 2014, we here at Rauner Library decided to be more egalitarian in our display of Audubon’s drawings. For the last twenty-three weeks, we have been turning a page in one of the massive tomes every Friday morning. We call it “The Friday Fowl at Rauner,” and we are almost through the first of three volumes. We plan to keep going until all of the fowl have been viewed, and then we’ll start the process all over again.

The Friday Fowl for any given week will be on open display in Rauner’s reading room, but if you can’t make it here in person, or if you’d like a preview ahead of time, be sure to “like” Dartmouth College Library’s Facebook page, where a snapshot of the bird of the week is posted every Friday. A few of our more enjoyable pages this term have been the Golden Eagle and the Barn Swallow, but it’s hard to choose a favorite from among all of these amazing hand-painted masterpieces. We’re always excited to see what new and wonderful bird will appear. To be one of the first to witness the week’s favored fowl, show up in the reading room between 10:30-11:00 on Friday, which is generally when we turn the page.

The call number for the three double elephant folios is Rare QL674 .A9 1827.