History and memory: French comic books and graphic novels at Cambridge University Library

Comic books (bandes dessinées or BDs) and graphic novels (romans graphiques) are a very important and successful part of French and Francophone publications. A report on the Bande Dessinée was commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture and published in January 2019, ahead of BD 2020, l’année de la bande dessinée. It contained several proposals for better symbolic and institutional recognition for the “9th art”: a stronger local, national and international dissemination and promotion, and an ambitious education policy. 2020 is thus officially « L’année de la bande-dessinée à la BnF »: the French national Library has engaged in a series of printed and online publications as well as events on the topic (prolonged up to 31st June 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis) and has even developed an app, “BDnF, la Fabrique à BD“, for you to try and create your own comic book. The app is accompanied by tutorials, and examples of creations in different sub-genres (including comic strip, manga, webtoon…), based on a selection of digital images from archival BnF documents. You can also read entire comic books online: during the lockdown, publishers such as La Boite à Bulles or Dargaud opened up some of their collections; every month, you can access a free volume on the website of Les Humanoïdes Associés. You can also read online comic books on the Institut Français digital library Culturethèque (sign up for free with your email address), or browse the digitised collections of the Cité internationale de la bande dessinée et de l’image, based in Angoulème, where takes place a major annual International Comics Festival.

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Droz online: trial access to the series Textes Littéraires Français, Humanisme et Renaissance, and Calvin

Librairie Droz is a Francophone academic publisher founded by Eugénie Droz in Geneva in 1924. It specialises in Medieval and Renaissance studies, literary criticism, art history, history of the book, and social sciences (in particular economic history). Cambridge University Library has a number of standing orders to its print collections, such as Bibliothèque des Lumières, Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartes, Diderot studies, Hautes études du monde gréco-romain, Hautes études médiévales et modernes, Hautes études orientales, Histoire des idées et critique littéraire, Publications romanes et françaises, Seuils de la modernité or Travaux du Grand Siècle. We are starting a one-month trial to its three series available as ebooks: Textes Littéraires Français; Humanisme et Renaissance; and the Calvin database.

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“Soyez réalistes, demandez l’impossible” May 1968 France

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S950.c.201.1213

“Be realistic, ask the impossible” was one of the many slogans of the French unrest in May-June 1968. May last year was the 50th anniversary of the upheaval, which arouses mixed feelings in French society, depending on the political ideas of each individual. There was a debate in 2017 about Emmanuel Macron’s idea of celebrating May 68, when it had been an anti-governmental, non-institutionalised movement; it certainly led to many cultural events in 2018, including the BnF exhibition: The spirit(s) of May 68. Cambridge University Library purchased many of the publications on May 68 which came out around the time of the anniversary, including 1968 : de grands soirs en petits matins (C214.c.7787) and L’esprit de mai 68 (C205.d.9998). Here we highlight some of the books we have received in the past year or so. Continue reading

Louis XIV: The king is dead… but not in our collections

le-roi-est-mort-catalogueJust in time for the final episodes of Versailles on the BBC, the University Library has received Le roi est mort : Louis XIV, 1715 (S950.a.201.4340). Including imagery from the funerals of French figures from Henri IV to Charles de Gaulle, this book (the catalogue of an exhibition held at the Châteaux de Versailles marking the 300th anniversary of his death) discusses both the ceremony and legal proceedings resulting from the death of the king.

Documents such as Louis XIV’s will (available in part online through the Archives nationales), the seating plan in St Denis for his funeral service, and orations from his funeral are reproduced along with essays on the death and funerals of kings of France, specific aspects of Louis XIV’s funeral, and analysis of the music and ceremony of royal funerals. Continue reading

The Republican Calendar

The clocks have changed, the nights are growing longer, and the cold wintry days of Frimaire are now upon us. The French Republican calendar is not used anymore, but it was in use for a significant period of time following the French Revolution, and approximately up to the coronation of Napoleon. The UL and a number of college libraries hold numerous books published during this period, many of which have publication dates that are incomprehensible to the modern eye.

The Republican calendar was intended to remove influences of religion and monarchy, and as such the names of the months were derived from seasonal conditions or events such as fog or the harvest, and every day of the year was named to reflect some aspect of the rural calendar. November 27 this year, based on the most popular method of translating to the Gregorian calendar, is 7 Frimaire: the day of the cauliflower.

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