Archive for July, 2013

French Theater at the Clark

July 31, 2013

From Reading Room Assistant Becky Ruud

In 2012, the Clark acquired a collection of 548 French plays. These plays were lovingly bound in 42 volumes between 1814-1819. However, the ordering of the volumes seems to have no discernible pattern. The collection includes plays from the 1780s through the early 19th century, although the majority of the plays come from the time of the French Revolution. The collection’s 42 volumes are bound in contemporary calf-backed boards. One volume has a marbled fore-edge where the others are left plain. In addition, each volume includes a handwritten index at the back of the volume, written by the original owner.

An example of an index written at the back of a volume

An example of an index written at the back of a volume

The owner’s love of these plays is evident in his arduous corrections to dialogue and even addition to printed title pages. The example below was repeated many times throughout the collection when title pages were missing from the play.

A title page supplied by the owner

A title page supplied by the owner

Corrections made by the owner

Corrections made by the owner

In addition, he added missing information from title pages and wrote out plays in their entirety!

Additions made to a title page

Additions made to a title page

 Play copied by the owner

Play copied by the owner

Almost all of the volumes include an unidentified armorial stamp at the front of the volume, seen in the first photo above.
Most of the included plays are comedies, which reflect the popular fashion for comedies in France during this period. Also, presumably to circumvent censorship laws, many of the plays were published in the provinces and internationally, including printing shops in Avignon, Toulouse, Carcassonne, London, Amsterdam, and others. The majority of the plays were written by Favart, Sedaine, Desforges, Le Brun, and Marmontel and were composed by Philidor, Gretry (and daughter), Bruni and Dalayrac. Printers of these plays mostly included Parisian printers Chez Barba, Chez Duchesne, and Jacques Garrigan and Berenguier of Avignon.

Interestingly, the volumes include many retellings of Shakespeare, including a French version of Hamlet where Hamlet and Ophelia survive. The final speech is given by Ophelia wherein she describes how wonderful Hamlet is, clearly not Ophelia’s original feelings in the original play. Although it is not clearly not Shakespeare’s Hamlet; it is noted on the title page to be in the style of the English. Also, for those Anne Rice fans out there, including me, the play Arlequin Sauvage featured in her book The Vampire Lestat is included in this collection! This was written into her story as Lestat’s first acting experience where he portrays the main character of this play.

This collection reflects the owner’s taste for comedies and love of theatre, but it also represents the culture of the French Revolution. The dates printed in the plays change to the Republican calendar and then seem to revert back towards the Gregorian calendar. The owner almost always writes the Gregorian date next to the Republican date at the end of each title page. Another example, many printers over time change their names to include “et fils” or become “mme”, perhaps when the printer dies. Finally, the genre and style of plays seems to change over time. It can be seen that over time the genres slowly include more varied styles of comedies including comedy-proverbe, parodie, opera-comique, divertissment, melodrame, vaudevilles, comedie lyrique, and others.

Perhaps my favorite parts of this collection are the original owner’s annotations. I especially like when he seems to be practicing what was appears to be his name on many title pages, and within the leaves of the plays. As seen below, he seems to be writing the name Delmas David Cadet time and time again. I would be curious to know if that name is familiar to anyone.

Name inscription written by the owner

Name inscription written by the owner

This very real connection to history is what I enjoy most about special collections work. I started to feel as though I knew the owner over the time I spent with the collection. I trusted his annotations (they were correct nearly every time), and as the volumes increased in number so did the amount of inscriptions he did. This unique collection should be revered for the owner’s dedication to the genre and the breadth of plays included in this large collection. The UCLA library, at this time, does not include many examples of the minor forms of comedy included in this collection which makes this collection even more special for the Clark.

Montana, Through the Stereoscope

July 24, 2013

From Nicoletta Beyer, Reading Room Assistant

In the less-travelled aisle of the library stacks known for its Montana Collection, I found a tan, medium-sized box. Inside the box live about fifty stereoviews alongside the original housing, a box with the title “Montana: Through the Stereoscope”. These early twentieth century stereoviews vary from sepia-toned rural landscapes to scenes of Native American rituals, although the majority are images documenting a rather dramatic buffalo roundup.

The Last Buffalo Chase in America

Upon further research, I discovered that this particular roundup is regarded as the “Last Great Buffalo Roundup”, a five year battle to move hundreds of bison across the Canadian border led by a 71 year old man with “an impressive white handlebar mustache.”  This mustachioed cowboy, Michel Pablo, was the owner of a large herd of buffaloes that roamed free on the 1.5 million acre expanse of the Flathead reservation of Western Montana. In 1906, the American government opened this reservation to settlers. Pablo encouraged the government to buy the large herd and to establish a buffalo sanctuary to avoid repeating the grave history of the herd’s ancestors of the century before. The American government showed no interest and Pablo was forced to accept an offer from the Canadian government in Alberta, prompting the great roundup from the reservation to the train station.
Making a Last and Fierce Struggle for Freedom

The “buffalo boys” attempted to drive the herd multiple times, each attempt ending with a portion of the herd making an enthusiastic buffalo break for freedom either by violent uprootal of wooden fencing or ramming through the back of the train car wall. The excitement leaked to the community and soon the roundup was attracting spectators, including a photographer from Butte, Norman A. Forsyth. Apparently the photographer positioned himself in dangerous proximity to the herd at various points for the sake of the shot and barely escaped injury — at one point hoisting himself up a fence and into a tree, losing his pants to a bull’s horns.
Unloading Buffaloes at Ravalli Yards

These are the stereoviews Forsyth captured at some point during this last great buffalo roundup, an endeavor that spanned five years, a testament of the wooly beasts’ fierce resistance.
Wild Buffaloes Swimming Pend d'Oreille River

New Acquisition from the London Book Fair: Oscar Wilde Lecture in Dublin, 1883

July 15, 2013

From Head Librarian Gerald Cloud

Last month’s London Book Fair provided the Clark with some choice new acquisitions, including a rare first hand account of Oscar on the podium. The letter, seen below, was written by Hannah Ann Robinson, latter known by her married name, Nannie Florence Dryhurst, 1856-1930. Written to her future husband, Alfred Robert Dryhurst, the letter describes how Wilde addressed his Dublin audience on 22 November 1883.


Along with the letter is included the promotional flier advertising the two talks Wilde gave in Dublin that Fall. The Clark holds examples of other similar advertising fliers from Wilde’s American tour.

Dyrhurst herself would go on to become a schoolteacher, but more adventurously, a strong advocate for Irish Independence and various anarchic causes in Europe in the early-twentieth century.


An Exhibition in Six Courses: Opening party!

July 8, 2013

Thank you to all who were able to come to last Tuesday’s opening for our current exhibition, An Exhibition in Six Courses: Testing Recipes from the Clark’s Manuscript Collection!  In addition to the debut of the exhibit itself, the opening also featured the tasting of a Nottingham Ale brewed by UCLA PhD candidate and Clark researcher Alex Hernandez, made according to a 17th-century recipe from one of our cookery manuscripts.  Curator Jennifer Bastian (the Clark’s Visual Resources Specialist) spoke briefly to discuss her procedure for transcribing and interpreting the sometimes difficult vocabulary and eccentric measurements of recipes she tested in her home kitchen; Alex was also able to give some remarks on his similar experience working with the ale recipe, and on the history behind British ale-making and Nottingham ale in particular.


Alex Hernandez and Jennifer Bastian

If you were not able to make it to the opening, the exhibit is open by appointment until the end September.  Call the Clark at 323-731-8529 to arrange a visit!