Richard Boyle’s Spanish Colonial Art book donation

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Donation label designed by the Faculty of Art & Architecture Library, Cambridge (based on original from Richard Boyle)

Richard Boyle, an enthusiast of Spanish Colonial art history, recently donated 88 Spanish colonial art books to the University Library in honor of his wife Marlene de Block. This is a significant donation, as there were very few volumes on colonial Latin American art and are mostly North American publications. Until now, the University Library and the Centre of Latin American studies collections mainly focused on nineteenth and twentieth-century Latin America.

This exceptional donation includes Spanish publications from Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Brazil and other Latin American countries, unavailable in most European national libraries. This is a unique opportunity for the development of colonial Latin American art studies in the United Kingdom. Continue reading

Gregory Rabassa, 1922-2016

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Gregory Rabassa in 2007 (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Many of the Latin American Boom’s greatest writers owe much of their international acclaim to one man: Gregory Rabassa, who passed away last month.

Rabassa’s English translations of Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch (9743.c.74), Mario Vargas Llosa’s The green house (9743.c.108) and, in particular, Gabriel García Márquez’s One hundred years of solitude (9743.c.116) sold millions of copies and brought these authors to a much wider audience. He enjoyed a particularly close and mutually appreciative relationship with Cortázar and also translated the great Brazilian authors, Clarice Lispector, Jorge Amado and Machado de Assis, amongst many others. Continue reading

Latin American Graphic Novels in the UL

This is a guest post by Joanna Page, Senior Lecturer in Latin American Cultural Studies and Director of the Centre of Latin American Studies.

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Cover of our copy of El eternauta (2014.8.4976)

The graphic novel has been enjoying a boom in many regions of the world, and is increasingly finding a serious, adult readership. Following on from Art Spiegelman’s renowned Maus (1980-1991), which demonstrated as never before the potential in graphic fiction for the treatment of important political themes, writers such as Joe Sacco, Marjane Satrapi, Chris Ware and Alison Bechtel have found the graphic novel to be a very effective medium to reflect on contemporary topics from war and religion to social isolation and sexuality. Continue reading

100 years without Rubén Darío

Covers illustrated by Enrique Ochoa.

Covers illustrated by Enrique Ochoa.

Several Hispanic literary anniversaries will be celebrated in 2016 and these will give us a chance to talk about some very important writers and how they feature in our collections. The first in this series is Rubén Darío, the Nicaraguan writer, who died on February 6th 1916 aged 49 years old, after much pain due to illness related to his alcohol addiction. He was greatly honoured right after his death, his funeral lasting several days and he even had his brain removed to investigate the mystery of his artistic genius and to be kept as some kind of object of veneration.

The University Library has a few first editions of Rubén Darío’s work. La caravana pasa (744:75.d.90.64) is the earliest among them. The book was published in 1902 in Paris by Garnier Hermanos and is one of his least known works. It contains articles about Paris and his travels around Europe which he wrote for the Argentine newspaper La Nación, arranged thematically rather than chronologically with dates and titles removed. It gives valuable and interesting views on the Parisian Belle Epoque. The author also visited London, of which he says: “¡Capital fuerte y misteriosa! Cuantas veces la visitéis, siempre os dominará bajo el influjo de su severa fuerza.” (Strong and mysterious capital! Every time you visit it, it will always dominate you with the influx of its severe strength). Continue reading

An influential polymath: Alexander von Humboldt

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Bronze sculpture of Humboldt by Ana Lilia Martin at Mirador Humboldt, northeast slope of Orotava valley, Tenerife where he stopped on his way to Latin America. Photo by Koppchen via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday 26th January sees the announcement of the 2015 Costa Book of the Year winner. One of the books in the running for this prize is The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s new world by Andrea Wulf (382:2.c.201.21) which has already won the Costa Biography award for 2015 and would be a good starting point for finding out more about the life of Alexander von Humboldt (1769-1859).

Humboldt Penguin (Spheniscus humboldti)

Humboldt penguin. Photo by Gregory Moine via Wikimedia Commons

A renowned figure in Germany and across Latin America, he is less well-known in this country – we may have heard of the Humboldt penguin, named after him (along with countless other species, world geographical features and place names) but most people know very little about the life of this extraordinary naturalist, explorer and geographer. Continue reading