Contemporary artists’ books in the UL: the Diane française “Musée de Poche” donation

Following an event and book display organised by Jean Khalfa at Trinity College Wren Library on 15 October 2018, Cambridge University Library recently received a donation of about 40 artists’ books published in Nice by La Diane française between 2004 and 2018.

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Mário Cesariny: Between us and words

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Poesia / Mário Cesariny. Assírio & Alvim, 2017.

The UL recently acquired Poesia by Mário Cesariny (1923 – 2006), the first comprehensive collection of poetry by the Portuguese Surrealist. The library began collecting Cesariny’s work in the late 1980s, when much of his poetry was re-published and gained a new audience – but by which time he himself had more or less abandoned writing to focus on painting.

Cesariny was born and lived his whole life in Lisbon, though during his early 20s he briefly studied art at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. While he was there, in 1947 he met one of his major influences,  André Breton. Spurred on by this encounter, Cesariny and his circle, who regularly met at Lisbon’s cafe A Mexicana, formed the Grupo Surrealista de Lisboa later that same year. Before formalising the birth of Portuguese Surrealism, these young writers and artists, amongst them the poet Alexandre O’Neill, had already begun to reject the strict Neo-Realism that had formed the dominant artistic opposition to Salazar’s regime. Continue reading

Wifredo Lam and Aimé Césaire

An exhibition in Trinity College’s Wren Library which runs until 12 June 2018 celebrates the work of the Cuban artist Wifredo Lam, using items from the Wren’s extraordinary Kessler Collection of Artists’ Books.  In this blog post, we look at the University Library’s own holdings of Lam books and related material.

Fata morgana / André Breton ; illustrated by Wifredo Lam

The exhibition focuses on Wifredo Lam’s many collaborations with a wide variety of international artists and writers such as Aimé Césaire, Gherasim Luca, and René Char. The UL’s earliest holding of his work reflects this aspect of his career: a 1969 English translation of André Breton’s poem Fata morgana illustrated by Lam (1990.9.1800). This collaboration dates from the Cuban artist’s time in France from 1938 to 1941, when he met and worked with many of the Surrealists and other leading European writers and artists of the period. However, the artistic exchange between Wifredo Lam and contemporary European art and literature had already begun years before, when he first went to study in Madrid in 1923. We hold a number of titles in French, Spanish and English dealing completely or in part with this side of Lam’s life and work:

  • André Masson : de Marseille à l’exil américain (2016.9.657)
  • Lam et les poètes (S950.b.200.559)
  • Más allá de lo real maravilloso : el surrealismo y el Caribe (400:8.c.200.186)
  • Diálogo de las artes en las vanguardias hispánicas (C213.c.6463)
  • Wifredo Lam and the international avant-garde, 1923-1982 (405:6.b.200.8)
  • The colour of my dreams : the Surrealist revolution in art (S950.b.201.911)

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Gradiva, international journal of Italian poetry

The University Library has recently taken out a subscription to the journal Gradiva : international journal of Italian poetry.

A recent issue of Gradiva

A recent issue of Gradiva

Created in 1975 by Adriano Berengo, the first issue was released in the summer of 1976. The first series of Gradiva ran from 1976 to 1982, and the main focus of the journal was to explore the relationship between psychoanalysis and literature. In 1982, with the second series and under new editorship, the journal became essentially a periodical of Italian literature and from that year on started to include creative texts. From the year 2000 to the present, the journal has devoted itself exclusively to Italian poetry and poetics, with an emphasis on the twentieth century and beyond.

Recently, it was taken over by the publishing house, Leo S. Olschki of Florence. The editor-in-chief of the journal is Luigi Fontanella, professor of Italian at Stony Brook University, and amongst the important international figures on the editorial board is the poet Valerio Magrelli. Now semi-annual, its issues include poems by Italian poets (with or without accompanying English translations) and poems by authors of Italian descent, as well as essays, translations, reviews, and interviews. It is an important resource for students of Italian contemporary poetry and the Italian poetical scene.

The journal stands at L740.d.4, with the latest issues in pigeon hole W.52 in the West Room.

Bettina Rex

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