Friday, March 10, 2017

All we can say is, "Wow!"

Title page of the 1553 edition of the Eneados
Historically, the amazing breadth and depth of Rauner's collections is a result of book-loving Dartmouth alumni and their generosity in passing along their treasures to us so that a new generation of Dartmouth students can explore and marvel at them. Just recently, a group of students in Professor Sara McCallum's Vergil class came to Rauner to flip through numerous editions of the great poet's works. Among the gathering of tomes was a recently catalogued copy of the Aeneid that was first translated by Bishop Gavin Douglas into Middle Scots in 1513. Douglas's translation, titled Eneados, is interesting for a variety of reasons, including that it's the first direct translation from the Latin into an Anglic language and it's the first time that the word "Wow" appears in print (according to the Oxford English Dictionary).

First page of the 1553 edition of the Eneados including a woodcut initial "L".Although we don't have a 1513 edition of Douglas's Eneados, we are lucky enough to have a version printed in 1553 that was a gift from Allerton Hickmott, class of 1917. This small but handsome book is printed with a blackletter typeface that gives it a distinctly early modern look and displays numerous lovely little woodcut initials throughout the volume.

First page of the 1710 edition's General Rules for Understanding the Language of Gavin Douglas's Translation of Virgil.We also have a much later edition from 1710 that formerly belonged to George Ticknor, class of 1803. Ticknor's copy of the text is a fascinating look into textual transmission and reception several centuries after the translation's initial creation. The typeface is now mostly roman, and therefore more familiar to a modern eye. Also, the publisher has included numerous linguistic tools, such as a list of general rules and a glossary, to assist the reader in understanding Douglas's strange and seemingly foreign language.

To try your eye and mind at Middle Scots, perhaps with the help of an early 18th-century appendix or two, come to Rauner and thumb through these wonderful gifts from two important alumni. For the 1553 edition, ask for Hickmott 399, while the 1710 edition is Ticknor LT V7aEd.

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