Friday, March 19, 2010

Dartmouth Rose

An illuminated illustration of two figures speaking over an open book.The Dartmouth College Library is delighted to announce the addition of an important manuscript to its holdings: a richly illuminated copy of the Roman de la Rose created in Paris between 1300 and 1325.

The Roman de la Rose is arguably the most important literary text produced in France in the middle ages. Much more than just an allegory for the pursuit of carnal love, the Roman de la Rose very quickly became one of the most popular and far-reaching texts of the Middle Ages.  This particular manuscript was produced only a few decades after the completion of the poem making it an important source for medievalists at Dartmouth and elsewhere.

In recent years, Rauner Special Collections has added three significant medieval secular manuscripts to its collections: The Brut Chronicle (England, ca 1425) and a fragment of the Chronique anonyme universelle (France, 1461), and Boccaccio’s L’Elegia di Madonna Fiammetta (Italy, ca 1450).  All three of these manuscripts have been heavily used in Dartmouth classes and have attracted world-renowned scholars to do work in Rauner Library.  They have helped to fill an important gap in Rauner’s holdings by adding secular historical manuscripts to the collections.  The Roman de la Rose adds a new literary text to the holdings and cements Rauner Library’s importance in the realm of medieval scholarship.  Most importantly, it now provide students, faculty, and visiting researcher at Dartmouth the opportunity to work with a truly remarkable set of manuscripts.

Two pages from a medieval manuscript with decorations including the previously described illustration.

The manuscript has been scanned and is available digitally through the Roman de la Rose Digital Library

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Classic Tear Jerker

An illustrated page of sheet music for "Little Eva Song."John P. Jewett knew he had a runaway bestseller with Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (Boston: J. P. Jewett, 1852), and he was determined to sell the book like no book had ever been sold before. He commissioned noted poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier to write a poem that could be set to music based on the emotionally charged death of Little Eva.  It began "Dry the tears for holy Eva!"  The song became a sheet music bestseller, and Jewett saw another opportunity to market the book: a printed handkerchief to help readers dry their tears.

Framing the image of Little Eva teaching Uncle Tom in the garden is a decorative border touting the novel's record setting sales: "Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet Beecher Stowe, is a Picture of American Slavery, not overdrawn, since Southern Publications themselves give as facts accounts of characters and incidents fully matching any thing this work presents--115,000 copies or 230,000 vols. have been sold in 6 months."

This marketing artifact is a perfect complement to our presentation copy first edition of Uncle Tom's Cabin.  Ask for Rauner Val 816 St78 X711 to see the first edition.