Friday, May 6, 2011

Ovid in Emblems

A page of printed verse surrounded by an elaborate border and a woodcut illustration showing the creation of the world.This curious edition printed in Lyon in 1564 reduces Ovid's Metamorphoses to a series of exquisitely executed woodcuts. The images, accompanied by only short snippets of text, become emblems for the myths they represent. Ovid was so prevalent in the culture that the publisher could count on his audience knowing the stories, so he could use the Metamorphoses as a vehicle for Bernard Saloman illustrations.

Our copy is bound in limp vellum and lies open in the palm of your hand, feeling almost weightless. We often argue that working with rare books can lead a student to ask questions he or she may never have thought to ask. The tactile and visual experience of this book evokes an ill-defined sense of the past. It sends you back in time and begs you to imagine the original owner holding it in 16th-century France.

A photograph of a limp vellum binding - plain and somewhat warped in appearance.
Come experience it yourself by asking for Rare PA6523.M2T6 1564.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Reader's Indigest

A cover for "Salaciones del Reader's Indigest, showing a white farmer ploughing the ground.Shortly after Castro's rise to power, this satirical supplement to La Revista Mella was published in Havana.  Like a kind of anti-Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern or MAD magazine for revolutionaries, nothing capitalist or imperialist was spared from ridicule. The seemingly tame front cover, with its inspirational quotation from Winston Churchill and a depiction of a hard working European farmer, dissolves into a fierce social critique when opened fully.

The previous image unfolded to show that the farmer's plough is actually being pulled by a pair of black men with their necks bound by a yoke.

The issue goes on to lampoon bastions of middle-class America: Coca-Cola, Reader's Digest, and the Saturday Evening Post.  Despite the anti-capitalistic theme, some of the humor is universal, like the condensed version of Romeo and Juliet, which would not have been out of place on any supermarket shelf.

Two pages of satirical advertisements.

Come see it by asking for Salaciones del Reader's Indigest, Rare PN 6790.C7 S35