Processing the A.G. Parker Cinema Collection is almost complete. A few fragile volumes await conservation and cataloguing and a residue of journal runs are currently being added to the catalogue, but the end is clearly in sight.
When we posted about the silent film journal Griffithiana back in April 2014, about 50% of the A.G. Parker Film History Collection had been catalogued. Now about 80% has been processed. Scholars who have used the collection so far have appreciated the wide range of languages covered, and have stressed to me the scarcity and value of the many imprints from the 1920s and 1930s which are included.
The Italian component consists so far of 334 titles. Coverage of books on silent cinema is particularly strong, with a number of titles relating to the Pordenone Silent Film Festival. The earliest Italian imprint in the collection is from 1932, Introduzione a un’estetica del cinema by Alberto Consiglio (CCC.56.100). Many of these books are, of course, lavishly illustrated and of quite a large format, so they are interesting and rewarding to process. They are sometimes produced by fairly small, specialist Italian publishers, and are often not held by any other British library. One such volume which meets all these criteria is Hollywood in Friuli : sul set di Addio alle armi, published by La Cineteca del Friuli in 1991. (CCA.56.314)
Processing of two large collections of cinema books, totalling several thousand titles, is currently in progress. Cataloguing of the Glynne Parker collection is well advanced, and specific items have already been the basis of posts on the European languages across borders blog. Rather more work remains to be done before processing of the Walter Schobert collection is completed. A film historian whom I recently took to view the two collections is sure they include many titles not otherwise available in national libraries.
The Parker and Schobert collections complement each other remarkably well. To the limited extent in which they duplicate each other, and existing holdings in the University Library, it is in the English language component, but for neither collection is English the largest language grouping. The emphasis of the Parker collection is on French and Italian material, whilst among Schobert’s books German language material predominates.
Prominent amongst the exhibits in the Liberation Collection exhibition are two editions of Vercors’ novella Le silence de la mer. The story is of a German officer billeted with a French family. A Francophile disillusioned with Nazi propaganda, he is eventually sent to the Eastern Front. Set between November 1940 and July 1941, the novella was completed in September or October 1941, and first published clandestinely by Éditions de Minuit in February 1942. The text was in wide circulation by the summer of 1943.
The exhibition copy of the 1942 edition is inscribed and dedicated by Vercors to Gilberte Chapuis, who as a young girl cycled round Paris distributing copies of the novella. The University Library’s copy of this edition is a later printing, which stands at 1994.7.597. Also displayed is a 1944 photograph by Pierre Jahan showing Le silence de la mer concealed behind another row of books in his apartment. On the back of the picture he writes
Aucune cachette ne survit à une bonne perquisition … il était pourtant plus prudent de glisser les “Éditions de Minuit” dans la seconde rangée de sa bibliothèque!
Former University Library staff member Glynne Parker died in October 2011, and after his death his wonderful collection of printed matter and ephemera on film was presented to the Library. At the time of writing, about 50% of the 2800 items have been catalogued. The general collection will feature in a future blog post, but some material is particularly worthy of mention.
The A.G. Parker Film History Collection contains several books about Luis Buñuel (1900-1983), an artist and man of great contrasts and contradictions: he was arguably the best-known and most significant Spanish filmmaker of the 20th century, but almost all of his most famous films were produced outside Spain; he achieved international fame (and infamy) with his first two features, Un chien andalou and L’âge d’or, but then took 20 years to get his filmmaking career properly underway again; he was a leader of the international Surrealist movement, but made one of cinema’s most critically acclaimed and influential realist works in Los olvidados.