Special Collections & Archives Blog

During September 2011...

Lenardo und Blandine, illustrated by Joseph Franz von Goez (1783)

Friday, September 30, 2011 10:53 am

Joseph Franz von Goez’s 1783 adaptation of Lenardo und Blandine “in 160 impassioned designs” may be the world’s first graphic novel.

Based on a ballad by German poet Gottfried August Bürger , Goez’s book tells the story of doomed lovers Lenardo and Blandine in a series of captioned copper etchings.

Bürger’s poem is itself based on Boccacio’s tale of Ghismonda and Guiscardo. In both versions a young woman is promised in marriage to a nobleman. However, her betrothed soon discovers that she already has a lover. The girl’s father kills the lover, after which the distraught daughter goes mad and dies.

Bürger’s poem was popular in 18th century Germany, inspiring works of art and theatrical adaptations. A musical melodrama based on the poem was staged in Munich in 1779, with a score by Peter Winter. The director and librettist was Joseph Franz von Goez.

Goez’s illustrations were based on the theatrical version of Lenardo und Blandine. The melodrama makes a few adjustments to Bürger’s poem , mostly to make the title characters more sympathetic. In Goez’s version the lovers are secretly married and Lenardo is a faithful courtier to Blandine’s father the king.

Whether or not Goez’s book is the first graphic novel, it is a fascinating record of an 18th century theatrical performance.

As the story begins, Blandine’s fiance witnesses her tryst with Lenardo and vows revenge.

The lovers, meanwhile, are grieved to have to part as morning approaches.

Parallels with stories of other doomed lovers are abundant. Here Blandine insists that the bird Lenardo hears is a nightingale, not a swallow, herald of the morning.

Lenardo, as it turns out, was right to feel a sense of foreboding. After he leaves Blandine, he is killed by her father the king.

That evening Blandine wonders why Lenardo does not come to her as he had promised.

She is visited by three mysterious messengers, bearing in turn a bloody, broken ring…

…an urn containing the dead Lenardo’s heart…

…and a letter accusing her of infidelity.

Blandine goes mad…

…and soon dies of grief.

The king is left to mourn his dead daughter and repent of his rash actions.

Wake Forest’s copy of Lenardo und Blandine was purchased by the library in 1964.

It Was A Simpler Time?

Thursday, September 22, 2011 4:11 pm

While accessioning materials into the University Archives today, I came across the Wake Forest University Civil Defense Manual from 1966. A small but very detailed document outlines the shelter locations, the supplies (food, sanitary, and medical), locations of telephones in the shelters, and locations of janitor’s closets with hoses for filling water drums.

The Wake Forest University Civil Defense Committee had their work cut out for them! I am so happy they didn’t have to use them, but was interested that the Library had on hand 26 cases of Nabisco crackers. (Accession #2011.0067)

What are you working on?

Thursday, September 8, 2011 10:59 am

 

 

We are so happy to have our students back for the semester and are eager to show the world what we are working on. Pictured is student assistant Palmer Holton holding pulp fiction from the Clarence Herbert New Collection (MS577). This collection contains a wide variety of materials including photographs, maps, manuscripts, and printed materials. Although it will be a while before this collection is processed and has a finding aid available, we are excited about the process. As you can see in the picture, sometimes working in Special Collections is dirty work. Palmer’s job is to scan these materials so that patrons can access the content without getting their hands too dirty! Included in the pulp fiction materials are “Blue Book Magazine”, “The Red Book Magazine”, “The Premier”, and “Adventure” from the 1900′s to the 1930′s. This is a visual and content rich collection and we can not wait to finish processing so that researchers can access these materials. Thanks to Palmer and all of the student assistants who work so hard to make the collections available to the public.

God’s Sacred Word Amongst Us: Historic Bibles from the ZSR Library Rare Books Collection

Friday, September 2, 2011 9:57 am

God’s Sacred Word Amongst Us: Historic Bibles from the Z. Smith Reynolds Library Rare Books Collection

On exhibit in the Special Collections Reading Room, September 2011-January 2012

Title page from the 1612 octavo edition of the King James Bible

The title of this exhibit, God’s Sacred Word Amongst Us, comes from the dedication of the of the English translation of Christian scriptures that came to be known as the King James Bible. 2011 marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible’s first publication, and in commemoration of this event the Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections has mounted an exhibit of 30 historic Bibles.

The exhibit includes a 1611 first edition folio King James Bible. Other Bibles and historical documents from the English Reformation are also featured. These include a 1599 edition (probably pirated) of the Geneva Bible, the popular Calvinist-influenced translation that James I hated and that he hoped would be replaced by his newly commissioned version; a 1582 first edition of the Catholic Douay-Rheims New Testament; and a 1612 second edition King James Bible.

Another section of the exhibit features some of the first Bibles printed in North America. Highlights include a 1685 second edition of John Eliot’s Algonquin Bible, published in Cambridge, Massachusetts and translated into the language of the surrounding native peoples. The 1663 first edition of Eliot’s Bible was the first Bible printed in the western hemisphere. Also on view is a 1782 first edition of Philadelphia printer Robert Aitken’s Bible, the first English-language Bible to be published in America. Often called the “Bible of the Revolution,” its publication was commissioned by the newly formed Congress when the embargo of English goods cut off the supply of Bibles from London.

From Gutenberg onwards, printed Bibles have inspired artistic and technological innovation, and the final section of the exhibit features examples of this. Artist Hans Holbein’s Images of the Old Testament is an important work in the history of biblical illustration (also featured on the Special Collections website as August’s Rare Book of the Month). Examples of Renaissance printer/scholar Robert Estienne’s Latin psalter and Greek New Testament display advancements in typeface design and in scholarly editing inspired by the Reformation. John Baskerville’s 1763 folio Bible, Owen Jones’s 1862 chromolithographed Victoria Psalter, and the beautiful Dove’s Press Bible printed in the first decade of the 20th century all represent milestones in book design.

During the last week in October, ZSR Special Collections will coordinate with the Wake Forest School of Divinity to host a traveling exhibit of historic Bibles from the personal collection of Atlanta collector Michael Morgan. Mr. Morgan will be the featured speaker at a Library Lecture Series event on Friday, October 28 at 3:00 p.m. This lecture is open to the public and will take place in the ZSR Library Special Collections Reading Room.

For more information, contact Megan Mulder at 336-758-5091 or mulder@wfu.edu .


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