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News from the UIUC Rare Book and Manuscript Library

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In This Issue:

  • Marcel Proust exhibition open through August 23

  • "Life on the Moon" exhibition opens August 30

  • Library of America publishes
    W. S. Merwin volumes

  • New RBML Curator Anna Chen
    is on the job!

  • 2013-14 No. 44 Society
    meeting events now set

  • Essay contests on tap
    for Fall Semester

Current Exhibition:

Marcel Proust :
Writing Without End

19 July —
23 August 2013

Curated by
Caroline Szylowicz

cover of swann's way


2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way), the first part of Marcel Proust’s lengthy literary masterpiece, In Search of Lost Time, long known as Remembrance of Things Past. This exhibition traces a lifetime of writing, through Proust's books and manuscripts, from his early publications while still in school, to his first attempt at a novel, and the transition to a life of ceaseless composition. It also explores his aesthetic and stylistic development through Proust's study and translation of works by John Ruskin, and to the all-consuming adventure of A la recherche du temps perdu, which occupied the author from 1908 until his death in 1922.

The exhibition is curated by Caroline Szylowicz, the Kolb-Proust Librarian and Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts at The Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The library's Proust collections are the most extensive in North America, with over 1100 letters from Marcel Proust, as well as manuscript and proof pieces, Proust's printed works, and a comprehensive collection of secondary sources. To learn more about these holdings, as well as Proust himself, please visit the website of the Kolb-Proust Archive for Research, or consult Caroline's Non-Solus blog post about the exhibition.


moon and earth

Upcoming Fall Exhibition:
Life on the Moon:
Literary and Scientific Reflections

30 August—
13 December 2013
Curated by Marten Stromberg
and Patrick Fadley

From Lucian's True History up to H.G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon, this exhibition will trace the scientific and literary background of speculation about life on the moon.

The moon, we know, is a reflective body: at night a combination of sunlight, starlight and earthlight brighten its surface and illuminate our world below. But the moon also reflects human motivations and desires, providing a world of imaginative possibility onto which humanity projects images of its own making. The books displayed will reveal a range of speculation about earth’s sole satellite. In these pages, you find savage satire and fantasies of escape, utopian commonwealths and tyrannical kings, strange lifeforms and spectacular technologies. Together these works tell a story about the interplay of science and literature, and of the importance of imagination.

The exhibition opens with an Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities sponsored lecture by H. G. Wells scholar Dr. Simon J. James of Durham University on Wells's novel, The First Men in the Moon. Additional moon-related lectures will take place during the course of the exhibition and other events will be hosted thoughout Champaign-Urbana to bring the focus of our scope on the inspiring, constant companion, the moon.

30 August 2013
at 3 p.m. in RBML

Simon J. James:
"The Idea of a Planned World:"
H. G. Wells's The First Men
in the Moon

H. G. Wells is best known now for Victorian science fiction such as The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds. In his own time, however, Wells was more famous for his utopian and political writing. His later Edwardian scientific romances combine the fantastic with social thought. The First Men in the Moon gives extended consideration to the imagined life in the moon of the Selenite society—both a utopian image of Wells's own dreams for the Earth, and a dystopian nightmare of a entirely planned world. Professor Simon J. James, of Durham University, UK, will give an account of this text in the context of Wells's wider work, as well as of some unpublished material in the manuscript, held in the Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Professor James is a specialist in Victorian and early twentieth-century fiction in particular, and in forms of narrative more generally. He is the author of Unsettled Accounts: Money and Narrative Form in the Novels of George Gissing (Anthem, 2003) and Maps of Utopia: H. G. Wells, Modernity and the End of Culture (Oxford University Press, 2012) and the co-editor of The Evolution of Literature: Legacies of Darwin in European Cultures (Rodopi, 2011) andGeorge Gissing and the Woman Question: Convention and Dissent (Ashgate, 2013). He is the editor of The Wellsian, the scholarly journal of the H. G. Wells Society, and of four Wells novels in the Penguin Classics series. He is currently working on an online edition of the manuscript of The Time Machine, as well as books on Dickens and on male bonding in Victorian and Edwardian fiction.


Library of America

The Collected Poems
of W. S. Merwin

The Library of America, a nonprofit publisher, publishes, and keeps in print, authoritative editions of America's best and most significant writing.

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library, which holds the papers of W. S. Merwin, is very pleased to announce that The Collected Poems of W. S. Merwin has just been published in two volumes by Library of America. This is only the second time that a living American poet has had their work incorporated into the publishing program of what The New York Times Book Review has termed the "quasi-official national canon" of American literature.

W. S. Merwin's first work, A Mask for Janus, was selected by W. H. Auden for the Yale Series of Younger Poets in 1952. His 1970 book, The Carrier of Ladders, won the Pulitzer Prize. He won a second Pulitzer for his 2008 work, The Shadow of Sirius. His 2005 collection, Migration: New & Selected Poems, received the National Book Award. Merwin also served as the Library of Congress's Poet Laureate from 2010–2011.

The Collected Poems of W. S. Merwin represents the second recent set of collected works published for authors whose papers are held by the Rare Book & Manuscript Library. The Library of America has also published a two volume set of the novels and stories of University of Illinois alumnus and New Yorker fiction editor, William Maxwell.

Curator Notes:

Anna Chen Explores RBML's "Embroidery"

embroidered bookSince I arrived at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library two weeks ago, I have been enjoying exploring the collections and getting acquainted with the treasures here. For example, I've been looking at early modern embroidered bindings, an aspect of book production that interests me because of the parallels and tensions it illustrates between women’s needlework and the acts of reading and writing in early modern England. An embroidered binding in this period was often the work of a female member of a wealthy family able to afford the luxury goods used to decorate the book. At the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, these bindings, embroidered in silk, silver, and sequins, and adorned with flowers, butterflies, and doves, cover tiny bibles and books of psalms. Several contain inscriptions and signatures of female owners, attesting to women’s engagement with their books through needle and pen. Dorothy Micklethwait, for instance, signed her embroidered 17th-century New Testament with an intriguing inscription about ownership, writing, and identity:

“Who owns this booke if thou wouldst know/in leters tow [two] I shall the[e] show/the one is D to all mens sight/the other is M to speil aright/and if thou chance to spel amis/looke under neath and thar it is/Dorothy Micklethwait” (Class number: IUQ 00150)
Anna Chen

The 2013—2014
Schedule of Meetings of
No. 44 Society,
a Convivial Confab for Book Collectors

September 11, 2013, 3:00 PM in RBML

Graham Arader, New York gallery owner and book dealer on getting primary source material into the hands of students.

October 9, 2013, 3:00 PM in RBML

Christian DuPont, Aeon software developer and former director of the Small Library at the University of Virginia. On nineteenth-century book collectors.

November 13, 2013, 3:00 PM in RBML

Marten Stromberg, RBML Curator of Rare Books to lead tour of "Life on the Moon" exhibition.

December 11, 2013, 3:00 PM in RBML

Come join us for a Holiday Cheer Party and Book Brag. We will also celebrate John Milton's birthday.

February 12, 2014 AT 3:00 PM in RBML

Henry Hebert, the Rare Book Conservator at the University of Illinois Library will talk about conservation and care of rare materials. Winners of the 2013 Fall Semester Fletcher and Baldwin Essay contests will also be announced.

March 12, 2014, 3:00 PM in RBML

J. Kevin Graffagnino, Director of the Clements Library at the University of Michigan will give a talk entitled; "Bibliophilia to Bibliomania."

April 9, 2014, 3:00 PM Field Trip!

Please join us for a field trip to the Fresh Press! Pull a piece of paper and find out more about what's happening in the book arts in our area.

May 14, 2014, 3:00 PM in RBML

Paul Gehl, Custodian of the John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing at the Newberry Library in Chicago will talk about the University of Illinois Cavagna Collection.

Mark your calendars!

Fall Semester 2013
Essay Contests:

The Harris Fletcher Award
& T.W. Baldwin Prize

To foster the use of primary sources and rare materials, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign sponsors two prize competitions each Fall Semester for the best research paper based on original sources from RBML. The prizes, co-sponsored by the The No. 44 Society, include separate judging and prizes for undergraduate (Fletcher Award) and graduate (Baldwin Prize) student papers. Professors in any department may nominate a student’s work. All submissions must be made by faculty (not by the students themselves).

The award for each category is $500. Entries should be emailed to Dennis Sears (dsears (at) illinois (dot) edu), the Rare Book & Manuscript Library's Public Programs Manager, 346 Library, 1408 W. Gregory Dr., Urbana, IL 61801, MC-522. Deadline for entry: 10 January 2014. Winners will be announced at the 12 February 2014 No. 44 Society meeting.

Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

346 Main Library, 1408 W. Gregory Drive., Urbana, IL 61801 MC-586
217-333-3777    Ask A Curator

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