Alchemical Connections in the UL: Jung and Eastern Alchemy

In my previous blog post, I examined a selection of the texts in the Bibliotheca Hermetica series, a recent addition to our catalogue. In this post, I wish to take a wider view of alchemy, and how the material connects people of different time periods. History is inherent to each manuscript, not only detailing the provenance and creation of each work, but also how the content shaped the lives of the people who read it. In this way, the collection of alchemical texts in the UL is a rich fabric of interwoven connections and textual interpretations, which spans centuries of academic understanding, creating almost a visual mind-map of human curiosity and giving the impetus to discover and learn more.

Carl Jung, circa 1935.

Carl Jung, circa 1935.

One particular example of how ideas interconnect across time, is Carl Jung, the Swiss 20th century psychiatrist, and The Secret of the Golden Flower (9840.b.17). Although psychology and alchemy may appear to be vastly different fields of enquiry, Jung’s approach to his specialism had a lot in common with the historical alchemists he researched. Like them, he was concerned with the unification of opposites, focusing primarily on the conscious and the unconscious, a theme he noted in a variety of Eastern archetypical images. Jung’s concept of individuation is also reminiscent of Western alchemical practices. In differentiating the self into conscious and unconscious elements, Jung was applying to psychology techniques which alchemists had applied to early approaches to natural science. Continue reading

Schöningh and Fink ebook collections

While ebook publishing of academic titles in Germany has been lagging behind in comparison to the anglophone world, great strides have been made in the last few years and now most of the major academic publishers offer their titles in ebook format. However, one major problem is that institutional access to ebooks can often be much more expensive than purchasing the print version. The University Library has been acquiring an increasing amount of German language ebooks. We have access to many German language ebooks through our EBA (Evidence Based Acquisition) scheme with de Gruyter and we acquire numerous individual titles from the major aggregator platforms.

Recently we have purchased our first ebook packages. These are the Schöningh and Fink ebook collections which are offered by Brill. Ferdinand Schöningh and Wilhelm Fink are renowned academic publishing houses with Schöningh focusing on history, theology and philosophy while Fink concentrates on philology and media studies. The ebook collections are organized by subject and issued annually. We have acquired the 2020 and 2021 collections for the subject areas Early Modern & Modern History and Literature & Culture, giving us access to 240 titles. Records for these titles can be found in iDiscover. Below we list a selection of titles from the collections to give an idea of the range of topics covered; follow the hyperlinks under the cover images for access. 

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Tauchnitz Collections reveal how reading fashions have changed

Castello Brown above Portofino, the setting for The Enchanted April (randreu via Wikimedia Commons)

A year ago, as we headed into lockdown and prepared for library closures, I ensured that I had plenty of new reading matter from both the UL and public libraries. One slim volume that I borrowed was Elizabeth von Arnim’s 1922 novel The Enchanted April, a charming book which proved to be the perfect springtime companion, allowing me to escape to the sunshine of the Italian Riviera at a time when I could barely leave my house. The copy was a Tauchnitz edition from 1925, acquired by the UL in 1982. It contained this intriguing statement:

The copyright of this collection is purchased for continental circulation only and the volumes may therefore not be introduced into Great Britain or her colonies. Sold by all booksellers and at all railway bookstalls on the Continent.

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Emmy Hennings rediscovered

A poster for Cabaret Voltaire (source: Wikimedia)

The literary author and cabaret artist Emmy Hennings (or Emmy Ball-Hennings) was one of the most fascinating figures in German literary life in the first half of the 20th century. Born in 1885, she worked in a variety of jobs before becoming a cabaret artist touring Germany, performing in famous venues such as Simplicissimus in Munich or Café Grössenwahn in Berlin. While in Munich she became a contributor to the literary magazine Simplicissimus and met her future husband, Hugo Ball. The pair moved to Zurich where in 1916, together with other artists, they founded Cabaret Voltaire, one of the key institutions of the Dada movement. At Cabaret Voltaire she became the star of the evening performances. The couple married in 1920 but Hugo Ball died in 1927. After his death she devoted her energy to editing and issuing his works. She herself died in 1948 in Sorengo in Switzerland. Continue reading

German prizewinners 2020

German literary life is supported and stimulated by numerous prizes which help authors in their pursuit of a literary career. Each October two of the most prominent prizes are awarded, namely the Deutsche Buchpreis and the Georg Büchner Preis.

The Deutsche Buchpreis is sponsored by the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels and awarded at the beginning of the Frankfurt Book Fair. This year’s winner was Anne Weber for her book Annette, ein Heldinnenepos. In this remarkable book Anne Weber tells the story of the French resistance fighter Anne Beaumanoir using the form of an epic poem. This brief video introduces the author and her book.

Anne Weber is well known for her literary experiments and has published several works of fiction. However, literary critics in Germany have agreed that Annette, ein Heldinnenepos is her best work so far and a worthy winner of the Deutsche Buchpreis. In particular the critics pointed out that the unusual literary form of epic poem was well used for telling the story of Anne Beaumanoir. For a summary of the reviews see Perlentaucher.

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