Archive for July, 2014

Reading Your Future at the Clark

July 22, 2014

By Reading Room Assistant Stella Castillo

The riddle of your future may be solved at The Clark! Recently, I was wondering what the future may hold, so I decided to look into fortune telling and came across several books detailing how to read your palm among other things (like your moles!) to determine your future. Palmistry, also known as chiromancy, is the art of reading lines on the hand to forecast the future.

palm

One book, in particular, the True Fortune Teller or Guide to Knowledge… (Call Number: BF1851 .T86 1698*) tells the reader in Chapter 2 that: “…first you must understand, that of all of the members of the body, none so plainly exposes our Fortunes or Fates as the Hand; for in that the God of Nature has ingraven legible Characters, to be read by the studious and industrious, to whom it is his pleasure to reveal such secrets And those are the lines and joynts, & c. apparent in the Palm, Thumb and Fingers, which have an immediate intercourse, though by devious ways, with the chief feats of life, having diverse Names.”

 

The method of evaluating a person’s character or future life by reading the palm of that person’s hand involves decoding the various lines and bumps. The lines have names like the life line, the head line, the heart line and the Saturne line. The palmist may begin by reading the person’s dominant hand which, according to some traditions, represents the conscious mind. According to various traditions of palmistry, the non-dominant hand may carry hereditary traits or information about past-life or karmic conditions.

palm2

The history of palmistry is hazy but it is thought to have originated in India with Hindu astrology and spread through the traditional fortune-telling practices of the Romani people to China, Tibet, Persia, Egypt and Ancient Greece. The earliest books on the topic appear in the 15th Century. During the Middle Ages the art of palmistry was actively suppressed by the Catholic Church as pagan superstition due to its associations with magic and witchcraft and it was used to detect witches. In Renaissance magic, palmistry was classified as one of the seven “forbidden arts,” along with necromancy, geomancy, aeromancy, pyromancy, hydromancy, and spatulamancy. It was believed that certain spots on the hand indicated one had made a pact with the Devil. Palmistry saw a resurgence during the 17th century, when scholars began to attempt to find rational and scientific foundations for the practice. However, palmistry was outlawed in Britain during the reign of King George IV.

palm3

I could tell you more about what your palm might say, but perhaps you should come down to The Clark and have a look at how to read your palm yourself.

Advertisements

Our new interim Head Librarian, Victoria Steele

July 18, 2014

Victoria Steele will be joining the Clark Library for a two-year appointment as Interim Head Librarian, beginning at the end of August.  Currently the Brooke Russell Astor Director of Collections Strategy for the New York Public Library, she was the Head of UCLA Special Collections from 2000-2009 and is no stranger to the Clark and its collections.  A more detailed press release is available here.

sasb_portrait_20140701_victoria_steele-3702r.

L’archive du tombeau de Louis Menard

July 3, 2014

Le tombeau de Louis Ménard and A propos du tombeau de Louis Ménard were among the first things I cataloged when I began working at the Clark 6 years ago and they were a great introduction to the wide variety of formats in the Clark’s manuscript collections.  Though these two companion volumes look like innocent codex manuscripts, bound in red morocco with fancy marbled endpapers, they are anything but normal bound manuscripts —

photo 3

— they are actually a bound archive.

In 1901 and 1902, French publisher and writer Edouard Champion compiled the book Le tombeau de Louis Ménard in honor of the writer, scholar and chemist Louis-Nicholas Ménard (1822-1901).  The published book itself is made up of letters from prominent scholarly, literary and political figures regarding Ménard and his legacy, and appropriately enough, Champion bound his copy of Le tombeau with an assortment of letters and calling cards from the book’s contributors and other well-wishers.  There was enough material in this archive to make a second volume of calling cards and letters, A propos du tombeau de Louis Ménard.  Individuals represented in the Tombeau archive include Georges Clemenceau, Remy de Gourmont, Robert Comte de Montesquiou, Léon Bloy, Jean Bertheroy, and Maurice Barrès, just to name a few.

photo 3

Sully Prudhomme’s calling card pictured in the front

As in any archive of correspondence, the letters and items gathered together by Champion range widely in size, making the job of binding a somewhat onerous task.  How do you bind together material that is so varied size-wise?  You could just paste everything in a scrapbook larger than the biggest piece of paper in the archive, but that would result in lost text when double-sided letters get pasted down (and most items in this archive are written on both sides).  The solution Champion’s bookbinder settled on was pretty perfect for this particular project.  Instead of trying to work with the pages of the archive itself, the bookbinder bound together a set of short stubby pages onto which the materials in the archive are glued.

photo 5

Of course, the easiest option would have been to keep all of these letters in a box, like a traditional archive.  But Champion clearly wanted to have these letters housed in a more bookish way (fitting, given his profession) and I am glad he did, as these two volumes are fascinating objects.  They are arguably easier to casually browse than a box of letters might be, and they easily fit on a shelf alongside other books.

photo 4

Edouard Champion, collector, Le tombeau de Louis Ménard and A propos du tombeau de Louis Ménard, MS.2008.004 and MS.2008.005, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, UCLA.