Hesburgh Libraries have just acquired the first edition of an important work on astronomy by the early modern Jesuit polymath, Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680), entitled Itinerarium exstaticum quo mundi opificium (Rome, 1656). The work generally defends the theories of Tycho Brahe, who combined elements of both the Ptolemaic and Copernican views of our solar system. Although the Jesuits had officially adopted Brahe’s cosmology by this time, the work apparently ran afoul of sixty-five theses listed in their own Ordinatio pro studiis superioribus, issued in 1651.
These difficulties led to a second edition being published in 1660 (Iter extaticum coeleste). This revision accomplished by Kircher’s friend, Gaspar Schott, contained twenty-seven pages of apologetics. Our Medieval Institute Library holds a 2004 facsimile of the Iter, so that now—with both editions available here at Notre Dame—scholarly comparisons of both works are possible.
Shelley’s novel was first printed anonymously in three volumes in 1818 for the London publishing firm Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mayor, and Jones in an edition of 500 copies. RBSC’c set is tastefully bound in contemporary style in 20th-century tan, smooth morocco. Spines are gilt-ruled in compartments with black morocco title labels and the sides are bordered with a double gilt rule.
The acquisition of the first edition of Frankenstein was made possible by the Hesburgh Libraries, a Nanovic Institute for European Studies Library Grant, the Department of Political Science (Notre Dame), and Professor Eileen Hunt Botting in memory of her brother, Kevin E. Hunt.
Mark Your Calendars – Upcoming Events
Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein will be the centerpiece of a spotlight exhibit, It’s Alive! Frankenstein in the Arts and Sciences, in Special Collections in Fall 2018. The exhibit will be part of a series of campus-wide events celebrating the bicentennial of Frankenstein.
Special Collections will also host a multidisciplinary panel discussion on Friday, October 19, 2018 with faculty from both Indiana University School of Medicine at South Bend and the University of Notre Dame exploring Frankenstein’s relevance to 21st-century medicine and medical ethics.
Revolutions in politics, thought, science, society, and art swept through Western Europe during the century and a half that stretched from the 1680s to the early 1800s, the period often referred to as the Enlightenment. Significant advances were made in the natural sciences. Previously investigated within the presuppositions and methods of theology, the study of nature was now guided by new methods of scientific inquiry. Examining specimens and observing plants and wildlife in their native environments allowed a new generation of natural scientists to compose scientifically verifiable accounts of the natural world exemplified by Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon’s Histoire naturelleand Mark Catesby’s Natural History of Carolina, Florida, and the Bahama Islands.
Emerging from this work was ornithology, the study of birds. Birds captured the interest of eighteenth century society; they were an important food source, used as symbols in armorial designs, and were a source of amusement for hunters, artists, and onlookers. This new discipline brought more accuracy and realism to descriptions of birds. Personality traits such as a goose keeping careful watch and having the power to understand wisdom as the Roman naturalist, Pliny the Elder, records yield to physical characteristics such as Mark Catesby’s description of the white-bill woodpecker’s bill being “white as ivory, three inches long, and channelled from the basis to the point.” Books about birds now brought empirical knowledge and life-like illustrations to a new audience. Notable in this effort are Thomas Bewick and his early field guide, A History of Birds, compact and written for the general bird enthusiast.
The exhibit is open to the public.
December 2, 2016 – January 31, 2017
Hesburgh Library, room 102
University of Notre Dame
Come see other natural histories and books on ornithology in Special Collections including:
The volume is bound in contemporary, blind-stamped pig skin over boards. On the front is a central medallion with the bust of Ludwig the Pious, surrounded by a knotted foliate pattern and border with medallions of noted humanists including Erasmus, Martin [Luther], John [of Saxony], and Philip [Melanchthon].