Recently acquired is a full-size, color facsimile of the Golden Qur’an (Cod.arab. 1112), held in the Bavarian State Library (BSB) in Munich. The original manuscript was restored by the BSB’s Institute of Book and Manuscript Restoration in 1967. This true-to-size facsimile replicates both the physical appearance and features of the restored codex. Some loss of the ornamental decoration along the edges indicates the text block was trimmed when the codex received a later binding.
The Golden Qur’an is among a small number of Qur’ans written using colored writing materials. The most notable example of these colored works is the late 9th- or early 10th-century Blue Qur’an from Tunisia that was written in Kufic script on indigo-dyed vellum.
The holy text in the Golden Qur’an is written in black Naskh cursive on gold-coated paper. The image below reveals the reflection from these golden pages.
Each sura heading is framed in blue, white, and reddish-brown script and is decorated with floral and arabesque patterns. Verses are separated by rosettes.
This Qur’an probably originated in Iraq or Iran. It has many features which indicate that it was a product of the school of Ibn al-Bawwab, the early 12th-century Persian illuminator and calligrapher. The Qur’an employs ink colors—white, brown, crimson, and black—that had been introduced by Ibn al-Bawwab. The vertical letters slant slightly to the left and are written in a dense but clear style that is characteristic of his school. In addition, the first page features an unusual arrangement of two sura titles. In the basmala (the name for the Islamic phrase which translates into English as “In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful”), the Arabic letter “sin” is elongated.
The Loeber Collection of Irish Fiction, acquired by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2003, is the foundation of the Irish Fiction Collection. As suggested by the major bibliography, A Guide to Irish Fiction 1650-1900 by Rolf Loeber and Magda Loeber, the Loeber Collection began with the premise that fiction, regardless of its status in relation to the literary canon, is important for a variety of reasons.
As Seamus Deane observes, ‘fiction – quite as much as history, propaganda, or religious works – was a form of knowledge or, at the very least, a mode of writing that moulds attitudes towards knowledge’ (Loeber, xvii).
Since the Loeber Collection arrived, over two thousand editions have been added to the Irish Fiction Collection, including children’s fiction, detective novels, ‘Troubles Fiction’ of Northern Ireland, and romances. Novels from the nineteenth century and earlier are still sought and added.
Even where a text is available in multiple formats, such as scholarly edited texts of Maria Edgeworth or Sidney Owenson, early editions in their original printing and binding have many stories to tell us of the readership and of the value and popularity of individual novels.
Among the early examples of ‘Irish Gothic’ are Regina Maria Roche’s novels. The Children of the Abbey, first published in 1796, is her best-known novel today. It is referred to in Jane Austen’s Emma, an indication of its popularity. One of the most frequently reprinted novels of the nineteenth century (Loeber 1136), the Hesburgh collection holds many editions including illustrated editions and multi-volume editions. Shown here are two late nineteenth-century American editions, possibly abridged, both with illustrations by Philadelphia illustrator F. O. C. Darley.
The above cover shows The Girls of Kings Royal, a novel by one of the earliest and most prolific writers of stories for girls. L. T. Meade, or Elizabeth (Lillie) Thomasina Toulmin Smith, was born in County Cork in 1844 and spend most of her adult life in England. Besides stories of schoolgirls, she wrote fiction for adults, including crime novels featuring a female detective. With almost two hundred titles by L. T. Meade in the Hesburgh Irish Fiction Collection, possibly the largest L. T. Meade collection besides that at Cornell, it is probably only about two-thirds of her output.
The British edition shown here has gilt-edged pages and eight coloured illustrations by Gordon Browne. The collection includes also an American edition published by Hurst of New York also in 1913, and illustrated by Charles I. Wrenn.
Gerald Griffin’s The Collegians, a novel based on a murder that occurred in Limerick, was first published in 1829, and was popular throughout the nineteenth century, with many editions published. The story also inspired a play by Dion Boucicault. Editions in the Irish Fiction Collection span a century, from the first edition to the Talbot Press editions of 1919 and 1934 which have an introduction by Pádraic Colum.
Shown here is the Warne’s Library of Fiction edition copy which contains lists of novels from Warne’s various series in the inside covers. The back cover advertises Norton’s Camomile Pills, for ‘all who suffer from indigestion, sick headache, bilious and liver complaints, hearturn, and acidity of the stomach, depressed spirits, disturbed sleep, loss of appetite, dispepsia, spasms, general debility, costiveness, &c.’
Katharine Tynan (1859-1931) wrote over one hundred novels along with poetry, memoirs, and articles of various kinds. She was involved in Irish literary society and was encouraged in her writing by W. B. Yeats, among others. Hesburgh Special Collections holds at least fifty titles by Tynan.
The Loeber Collection includes a first edition of The Dear Irish Girl, published in London by Smith and Elder in 1899, but the cover shown here is from the 1899 edition published in Chicago by A. C. McClurg. This copy came to us with the library of Captain Francis O’Neill, who gave his library to the University in 1931.
Thanks to the acquisition of the Loeber Collection and the continued work in building the Irish Fiction Collection, scholars of Irish Studies may find a large body of fiction from any time and in all genres, from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries.
The item featured in this week’s blog post is on display as a spotlight exhibit through the end of August.
French book artist Didier Mutel, inspired by Forbes Magazine’s annual listing of the world’s wealthiest people, created a portfolio called The Forbes simulachres: historiées faces de la mort, autant elegammẽt pourtraictes que artificiellement imaginées(Images and Illustrated Aspects of Death, as Elegantly Delineated as They Are Artfully Imagined). This 75-sheet portfolio, generously sized at 62 x 45 cm, comprises 36 pairs of woodcuts. Each duo consists of a full-page illustration of a skeleton, accompanied by text naming an individual from Forbes’ 2009 list of billionaires.
Mutel’s inspiration for this work was the iconic “Dance of Death” woodcuts created by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543). The Dance of Death (danse macabre in French, Totentanz in German) is part of the medieval tradition of memento mori (contemplation of death). Its visual representation typically pairs a living person with a skeleton, reminding the viewer that death comes to all, regardless of their worldly circumstances. Holbein depicted this theme in woodcuts which he completed in 1526 while living in Basel. They were first published, however, in 1538 in Lyon, France.
In the Forbes simulachres, Mutel portrays skeletons in a variety of settings. Some are engaged in recreational activities such as skiing or surfing while others are shown in more mysterious and threatening circumstances. Every skeleton is paired with a plate of text accompanied by biblical verses in early French, and each references Forbes by giving individuals’ names and ranks on its annual list of the wealthy.
Didier Mutel, born in 1971, is an engraver and printer who specializes in book arts. He studied at l’École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs (1991-1993) and l’Atelier national de création typographique (1994-1995). He has received numerous awards including a “Grand Prix des métiers d’art de la ville de Paris” in 1997 and was named artist in residence at Rome’s Villa Médicis from 1997 to 1999. Since 2003 he has taught engraving and drawing at l’École des beaux-arts in Besançon.
When Mutel returned to Paris from Rome, he joined the workshop of a master artist, Pierre Lallier, whom he had met in 1988. Lallier’s workshop originated in 1793 and was the oldest continually operating etching studio in France. After Lallier’s retirement, Mutel continued his work, maintaining legacy equipment and original printing techniques.
Mutel often revisits historical creations of music and literature. His inspirations range well beyond Forbes Magazine and include TheMetamorphosis by Franz Kafka and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. In 1994 he published a noteworthy interpretation of Robert Lewis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
The library’s copy of the Forbes simulachres is number 6 in an edition of 42 and is signed by the artist. Its case is unusual in having been fabricated from one of the woodblocks used to produce the text for plate number 6 featuring Karl Albrecht.
Please join us for the following events being hosted in Rare Books and Special Collections:
Wednesday, August 22 at 3:00pm | “The Conservation of Dante’s 1477 La Commedia.” A public talk by Jeff Peachey (Independent Book Conservator, New York City). The conservation treatment of the Hesburgh Libraries’ important copy of Dante’s La Commedia (Venice: Vindelinus de Spira, 1477) will be detailed in this profusely illustrated lecture. Bibliophiles, conservators, librarians, Italian scholars, and anyone curious about the physical structure of books will find this lecture of interest.
Friday, September 7 at 1:00pm | Operation Frankenstein: “Illustrated Frankenstein: The 200th Anniversary Edition” by David Plunkert (artist and illustrator for The New Yorker). Operation Frankenstein is a semester-long series of interdisciplinary events taking place at the University of Notre Dame to celebrate the bicentennial of Mary Shelley’s novel.
Bringing together his interests in Africa and artistic skills as a printmaker, Tom Killion issued his beautiful, hand-printed Walls: A Journey across Three Continents. Gracing the one hundred sixteen pages of hand-made Japanese Torinoko paper—a lustrous, smooth paper with texture and color resembling a hen’s egg—are the author-artist’s travel log and sixty-five original illustrations.
Before Killion conceived Walls, he had planned to “reproduce an illustrated travel diary from a journey [he] made in 1976-1977” (Walls, colophon) through parts of North America and Europe. Various demands on his time interrupted that project—establishing his own private press (Quail Press in Santa Cruz, CA), earning a PhD in African history from Stanford University, creating woodcut prints of the California landscape, working in Sudan as an administrator for a medical relief program, and traveling through war-torn Eritrea with a group of nationalist rebels. Finally, in 1988, Killion returned to his original idea of producing Walls, but now he broadened the scope of his project to include his travels in Africa, documenting the many types of walls he encountered there as well.
As an artist from the recently colonized land of North America, where social boundaries are defined by wire fences and rivers of moving cars, I was struck by the stone walls which dominated the landscape of Europe and Africa: walls that were built to keep people out, to keep people in, to hide and sleep behind, to throw down and rebuild. These walls were laid across fields and mountains, across rivers and marshes, and in places they clawed at the sky (Walls, 4-5).
Killion commences his journey from California’s western shore. Traveling north for Puget Sound by train, Killion found himself five days later looking upon the Olympic Mountains, clear and cold, glittering above miles of dark forest.
Nearly six months later, the young traveler sat beneath the Eiffel Tower chatting about the city with a young Algerian. Then over the next two months, he traveled through the French countryside, Switzerland, and then into Italy.
Aboard a train on his way to Athens, Killion met an Ethiopian student headed to medical school in Thessalonika. From this young man, Killion became fascinated with the Ethiopian Empire and how it faced a revolution that overthrew the emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, a power struggle between student revolutionaries and the military, and rebels trying to gain independence for Eritrea from Ethiopia.
By November 1976, Killion wound up his travels in Europe and departed Marseilles for Tunis and spent just over a year in Africa, traveling across the Sahara. This trip fed his interest in Africa. As a doctoral student at Stanford, Killion returned to Africa in the early 1980s to conduct research on the Ethiopian labor movement and the national liberation movement in Eritrea (Walls, 89-1) and then went back again and spent from 1987 to 1988 at three Ethiopian refugee camps in Eastern Sudan working as an administrator for medical relief programs. In the midst of the war in Eritrea, Killion documents the struggles—the civil war between the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) and the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF), EPLF’s revolt against Ethiopia, the conditions of the Eritrean people, continued air raids, and death.
Killion’s images reveal his synthesis of techniques that draw on nineteenth-century Japanese ukiyo-e landscape artists, Hokusai and Hiroshige, and twentieth-century American and European wood engraving techniques. The color prints in Walls are produced from woodblocks. Killion began carving the woodblocks for the prints in Walls in 1981 and continued to do so sporadically until the book was completed in 1990. The process to create the final version of each print is lengthy and involves multiple steps (Killion demonstrates this process in a YouTube video). To create the woodblock image, the artist takes his sketch of a scene, reverses it onto a block called the key block. This block contains all of the visual information needed to make the rest of the blocks used to print the various colors in register for the final image. Killion carves the reverse image into the block. He then transfers this image to several more blocks and carves the image into those blocks. Once completed, either a single color or combinations of colors (to show gradations) are rolled onto a block.
Printing the image begins with aligning the first color block that is inked with the lightest color with the key block. Killion then uses his Asbern proof press (a type of press with a fixed bed and rolling carriage made in Augsburg, Germany in the 1960s and 70s) to print the image on hand-made Japanese Torinoko paper. He pulls sheets equal to the edition number plus a few extra just in case. Then this process is repeated with each color block, with one to two days between each printing to allow the color to dry. Each copy of Walls required one hundred ninety-nine pulls to produce.
In addition to sketching the images, transferring them to and carving them into blocks, and paying meticulous attention to setting and printing the images, the production of Walls involves a series of other artistic choices. In addition to selecting the type of paper on which to print, Killion chose the typefaces Centaur and Arrighi (the italic of Centaur) with which to print the text of Walls. He then bound the printed text block in raw half-linen and Niger goatskin, and enclosed the finished piece in a matching linen slipcase.
Tom Killion’s Walls is a recent addition to Special Collections’ modest artist’s books collection. For more information about this, please contact Special Collections.
“Decoration Day,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, was published posthumously—first in June 1882 in The Atlantic and later that same year in In the Harbor, a book containing previously unpublished poems. The poem “pays tribute to what was then a new form of civic observance: a day set aside to commemorate those who had perished in the Civil War by placing flags and flowers on soldiers’ graves, a custom that gradually gave rise to our modern Memorial Day honoring all who give their lives in military service.” (David Barber, The Atlantic, May 30, 2011)
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82) was but five years old when he witnessed the War of 1812 devastate his hometown. This event had a long-lasting impact on him.
Wordsworth would go on to Bowdoin College, graduating along with Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1825 before traveling through Europe, where he gained mastery over seven languages. On his return to the US, he taught languages first at Bowdoin and later at Harvard, and also spent much time writing textbooks and essays on languages, particularly French, Italian, and Spanish. While at Harvard, Longfellow’s literary career took off. He travelled to Europe twice more before resigning from Harvard in 1854 to devote his full attention to writing.
Less than a decade later—in 1861—not only did his beloved wife, Fanny, die but the Civil War broke out and his son, fighting for the Union, was wounded. The invalid had to be escorted home by his father and brother. To cope with these tragedies, Longfellow immersed himself in his literary endeavors including a full translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy (completed in 1864). Against memories of the War of 1812, the Civil War, and the traumatic loss of a wife and the injury of a son, Longfellow continued to write. In some of his last pieces, including “Decoration Day,” one cannot help but notice Longfellow’s solemnity and poignancy.
This fine volume contains not only the 53 guidelines comprising the Constitutions, but also the Rule of the Order with the commentary of Hugh of St. Victor (d. 1141). Following the Rule is a liturgical calendar, which has important feast days highlighted in red and enclosed by woodcut border strips.
Closing the volume are instructions for celebrating Mass, the Ordinary (5 everyday prayers: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei), 36 pages of music, and Onofrio Panvinio’s chronicle of the Order.
This volume is bound in 18th-century vellum over boards and is printed in Italic type. It is decorated with historiated initials and black and red woodcut borders.
According to the WorldCat database, there is only one other North American holding of this edition.