Masaryk in Egypt

Masaryk in Egypt

Tomàš Garrigue Masaryk (1850-1937), shown here at Luxor during a semi-private trip to Athens, Jerusalem and Cairo in 1927, was still active at the age of seventy-seven. Re-elected for the third time as president of Czechoslovakia, he was one of the leading statesmen in Europe. Almost three hundred of these small-format photographs were taken as part of the official record of his visit. Each photo bears a contemporary inscription on the back indicating date, place and occasion. Taken as a whole, they provide an unusually detailed day by day record of his journey. We are not sure whether this box was part of an official issue of these original photographs, and would welcome further information about them.

The Lilly’s holding in Czech literature and political history are particularly strong, thanks in large part to the generosity of Ruth Crawford Mitchell, long-time friend of the Masaryk family, and an important figure in international social work. Her papers, along with those of two of Masaryk’s daughters, Alice and Olga, are held at the Lilly. The Lilly continues to actively build its collection of Czech material, with an emphasis on the period of Tomàš Masaryk’s life. A display of the works of the Ĉapek brothers, Karel and Josef, is presently on view in the Ball Room.

— Breon Mitchell, Director

View a larger image of the photograph above and of the box of photographs.

Christmas Poems from the Madhouse

Haringer woodcut

This Expressionist portrait of Jakob Haringer (1898-1948) at age 22, by Emil Betzler, may well be a rare survival. It reached the Lilly together with five small groups of poems in manuscript, written on the back of old letters and scraps of paper, and hand-bound by Haringer as Christmas greetings to a few friends. Each copy is unique. On the copy shown here, Haringer has noted “written in prison and the madhouse.”

Following his early discharge from the military in WWI on medical grounds, Haringer took up the life of a vagabond. Accused of various petty crimes, including insulting officials, falsifying papers, and blasphemy, he spent most of the rest of his life on the streets, in hospitals, and in mental institutions. He lived largely by begging from friends. In 1936 the Nazis revoked his citizenship and he fled to Switzerland. From 1939 on he lived for a time in Paris, then, illegally, in Switzerland, where he was interned in various refugee camps during WWII. He died during a visit to Zurich in 1948. Arnold Schönberg set three poems by Haringer to music in 1933.

— Breon Mitchell, Director

View more images of the Haringer manuscripts

Earliest Printing in Sarawak?

Spelling Book of the Dyak Language

Little seems to be known about the early history of the Mission Press in Sarawak, which is one of two Malaysian states on the island of Borneo. The arrival in 1847 of Christian missionaries among the Dyaks, who were famous as headhunters, must soon have been followed by a small printing press. The Lilly has recently acquired two early examples of the Mission Press, a twenty-page “Spelling Book of the Dyak Language” dated 1853, along with a Catechism in Dyak dated 1854.

The Lilly’s copy bears a presentation inscription from the probable author, William Gomes. Of Sinhalese-Portuguese descent, Gomes arrived in Sarawak in 1852, worked in the Home School in Kuching, and served as missionary at Lundu from 1853 to 1867. The recipient, Rev. Hawkins, arrived in Sarawak in 1865, as the wife of Bishop McDougall later recorded in her memoirs:

“After the Banting expedition, the Bishop took Mr. Waterhouse to Lundu, and Mr. Hawkins, a missionary lately come out, went with them. They arrived on a Saturday. On Sunday there was a great gathering of Christian Dyaks: fifty-two people were confirmed, eighty received the Holy Communion, so that they were more than three hours in church, the Bishop preaching to them in Malay. On Monday Mr. Waterhouse and Mr. Hawkins paid a visit to a beautiful waterfall, about two miles from the town; and on Tuesday all the party, Mr. Gomes included, went in boats forty miles up the river Lundu, with three hundred Dyaks, to tuba fish.”

No doubt Mr. Gomes took this opportunity to present his new colleague with a copy, already twelve years old, of the spelling book shown here, along with the Dyak catechism—precious tools in the life he now faced. If anyone knows of an earlier surviving example of the Mission Press in Sarawak, we would appreciate hearing of it.

— Breon Mitchell, Director

View more images from the the “Spelling Book of the Dyak Language”

Art imitates life: Georg Kaiser

Kaiser, Der gerettete Alkibiades

Georg Kaiser (1878-1945), a major figure in German literary Expressionism (1910-1925), even signed his books in typical Expressionist “Telegrammstil” (telegram style). The copy of Der gerettete Alkibiades (1920) shown here, recently added to the Lilly’s growing collection of modern German literature, was inscribed for his friend Marthe Fröhlich only five days after he’d sent the following barely-veiled threat of suicide to his wife: “No one is even close to being my equal: I know that I’m the brother of Kleist, Büchner, and Goethe. I am one of the great wonders of the world. I’m the most extreme exponent of human kind… And if—growing weak—I make Kleist’s fate my own, you must carry on in my memory…”

Suicide was surely on his mind—the play ends with the death of Socrates. Ironically, the limited edition (one of 50 signed copies) is a touch of luxury totally at odds with Kaiser’s own desperate financial situation at the time. In October of that year, calling to mind the protagonist of his most famous play, From Morn to Midnight, he was arrested for embezzlement, and eventually put in prison. He died in Switzerland in 1945– of natural causes.

–Breon Mitchell, Director

View more images from Der gerettete Alkibiades.

New Curator of Manuscripts arrives at the Lilly Library

We’re pleased to announce that on January 26th, 2009, Cherry Williams joined us as our new Curator of Manuscripts. Ms. Williams received an M.L.I.S. degree from UCLA, and an M.A. in Humanities, with a concentration in Art History, from the University of Chicago. She comes to us from UCLA, where she was Special Collections Librarian for the Sciences at the Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, and served as Special Projects Librarian and Archivist of the William H. Sweet, M.D., D.Sc. Collection. Cherry also worked at the Getty Research Institute and the University of Chicago Special Collections Research Center. She is particularly interested in Medieval manuscripts, and wrote her Master’s thesis at the University of Chicago on “Consuming Images in the Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves.” We welcome her warmly, and express our gratitude once more to Saundra Taylor, who retired last May, for her 34 years of service in this important position.

–Breon Mitchell, Director

Welcome!

Lilly Library entrance

Scarcely a day passes at the Lilly Library without something of unusual interest coming our way. Our newly-inaugurated blog is intended to share our discoveries and excitement about rare books, manuscripts, exhibitions, speakers, and special events on a regular basis. We hope that this forum will allow us to inform you more quickly about fascinating new acquisitions for example, yet give us an opportunity to describe hidden treasures as well—the sort of thing often said to be “slumbering” undiscovered in the vaults of rare book libraries. We will also offer advance notice about lectures, public receptions and special displays. Our goal is to make the blog fun to read, intellectually stimulating, and informative—and to bring you into the Lilly as often as possible.

–Breon Mitchell, Director