Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Judaica materials in Special Collections

The Brandeis University Library houses a major Judaica research collection. We have extensive holdings in subjects as diverse as Bible, rabbinics, Jewish philosophy and mysticism, and Hebrew and Yiddish literatures. Our Jewish history collection extends from ancient times through the Middle Ages to modern times, including Israel, the Holocaust and American Jewry. Books in the stacks are supplemented by microform and electronic databases. In addition, we have a number of rare (or unique) fine books, documents and objects in the University Archives and Special Collections. Our spotlight this month is devoted to these special materials.

Below is a tiny sampling of our rare books in the subject areas of hagadot, prayer books, rabbinics, Bible commentaries, Hebrew grammar, philosophy and history:

Seder Hagadah shel Pesah (Venice, 1629), following the Roman ritual tradition, with a translation into Spanish.
• The multi-volume mahzor for the holidays Sha’ar Bat Rabim (Venice 1711-1715).
• Levi ben Gershon (Gersonides), 1288-1344: Perush al ha-Torah (Venice, 1547)
• Maimonides, 1135- 1204: Sefer ha-Mitsvot (Venice, 1550)
• Maimonides: Hilkhot Bikurim (Leiden, 1702)
• Levi ben Gershon: Milhamot ha-Shem (Riva di Trento, 1560)
• David Kimhi, circa 1160-cica 1235: Sefer ha-shorashim (Venice, 1529)
• David Gans, 1541-1613: Tsemah David (Frankurt am Main, 1692)

Other rare works include Josephus’s De Antiquatibus ac de Bello Judaico (Venice, 1499) and Orden de Oraciones de los Cinquo Ayunos del Anyo (Amsterdam, 1618) (the latter is a collection of prayers for five Jewish fast days). As well, we hold a copy of David Ben-Gurion’s Israel: a Personal History (1971), containing the following inscription: “To Brandeis University, founded in the year of Israel’s rebirth” – signed by D. Ben-Gurion on March 12, 1971.

We also own some wonderful facsimiles of medieval illuminated (decorated with color illustrations) manuscripts. Several are hagadot and prayer books. One of these reproductions is called the Rothschild Miscellany. Its 948 pages contain seventy religious and secular works. The illustrations are stunning, and holding a physical copy that exactly recreates every physical aspect of the original is a special experience, quite different from online viewing.

Jewish life in Europe is represented in many of our special collections. We own the manuscript of the Book of Records and Accounts of the Jewish Community in Venice (1735-1792). This is an excellent source of information on the daily activities of some of Venice’s Jews. The Leon Lipschutz collection of Dreyfusiana and French Judaica is a rich and fascinating collection which documents the Dreyfus Affair in turn-of-the-century France, and also contains varied documents relating to the lives and work of Jews in France from the Revolutionary period to the mid-twentieth century. Some of the materials in the Lipschutz collection are closely related to those found in the Consistoire Central Israélite de France collection. Containing seven linear feet of French Consistory materials and two linear feet of international Judaica, the Consistoire collection provides a sweeping view of the French and worldwide Jewish communities from the mid-eighteenth through the first third of the twentieth century.

The American Jewish community is also well-represented in Special Collections Judaica materials. The Leo Frank trial collection is one of the highlights. Frank’s trial and lynching led to the formation of the Anti-Defamation League. The papers of Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, owned jointly with the American Jewish Historical Society, reflect Wise’s life as a leading Reform rabbi and leader of the American Zionist movement.

Our rare books relating to the American Jewish community include a number of volumes by Isaac Leeser, a nineteenth-century Jewish author and communal leader. Other highlights are Isaac Mayer Wise’s Tefilot Bene Yeshurun: Minhag Amerika (1870) and David Einhorn’s Book of Prayers for Israelitish Congregations (1872).

Among a large collection of the personal and professional papers of Justice Louis D. Brandeis are many materials relating to Justice Brandeis’s Zionist work. Of particular interest in this collection is something which looks on the outside like a very well-decorated Scroll of Esther, which is actually a “thank you” scroll presented by the community of Jerusalem to Justice Brandeis when he visited the city in 1919. Brandeis was a leader of the American Zionist movement, and the Jerusalem city leaders had this scroll created in fancy Biblical Hebrew in order to show its appreciation of his activities on behalf of Zionism.

A major focus in our collections is Jewish feminism. Included in this category are the papers of Aviva Cantor, E.M. Broner, Maayan, Marcia Freedman, and the feminist magazine Lilith. The magazine’s archive is a treasure trove of information on decades of Jewish feminist activity and creativity. We continue to seek additional feminist collections.

The Holocaust is also well represented in Special Collections. The Helmut Hirsch collection documents the life and work of Hirsch, a young German Jewish artist murdered in 1937 for his anti-Nazi activities. His archive includes his correspondence, notebooks, diaries and artwork. The Jewish Resistance collection contains propaganda material, individual testimonies, newsletters and other documents pertaining to Jewish resistance movements during World War II. One particularly fascinating German antifascist pamphlet from 1933 is disguised as an owner’s manual for an Electrolux vacuum cleaner. The Theresienstadt concentration camp documents consists of 200 daily bulletins of the “Jewish Self-Administration” of the camp. While the man who collected these documents did not survive, his wife and daughter lived to donate this collection to Brandeis. The Spitzer family papers tell the story of a Czech Jewish family from before, during, and after World War II. The collection documents the fullness of their lives in Europe before the Holocaust claimed many members of the family and follows the survivors’ travels to the Boston area.

Some of our more unusual collections include a large Yiddish sheet music collection and The Bernice and Henry Tumen collection. The Tumen collection includes 177 Jewish religious and ceremonial objects, most of which date to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It includes everything from a Scroll of Esther and Havdalah spice boxes to amulets and Kiddush cups. Many significant items from this collection are on permanent display on the mezzanine level of Goldfarb Library.

In University Archives, we are fortunate to house a number of collections related to the history of Brandeis University itself, including the NEJS faculty papers of Alexander Altmann, Marvin Fox, Nahum Glatzer, Benjamin Halpern, Leon Jick and Marshall Sklare. We also house the papers of former chaplain Albert Axelrad. We own a historical collection of the papers of Brandeis Hillel, as well as papers of President Abram Sachar, from his activities and correspondence related to National Hillel.

This is but a sample of our wonderful rare (some unique) Judaica materials. You are invited to look online at the University Archives and Special Collections page on the Library website, as well as to search for individual book titles in our online catalog. These materials are open to all and we welcome all visitors and questions. Enjoy!

Written by Jim Rosenbloom, Judaica Librarian (rosenblo@brandeis.edu).

Friday, June 30, 2017

Marcia Freedman papers

The Marcia Freedman papers represent a fascinating addition to the growing Jewish Feminist Collections at Brandeis University. Recently acquired, processed, and now available in the University’s Special Collections, the collection consists of approximately 2.75 linear feet of materials pertaining to Freedman’s life and work as an American-Israeli activist and feminist. While the collection materials range in date from 1968 to 2016, the bulk of the materials relate to Freedman’s time spent in Israel during the 1970s, as well as her return there in the late 1990s.

Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1938, Freedman earned a BA from Bennington College and an MA from the City College of New York.(1) In 1967, while pursuing a PhD in philosophy, she moved with her family to Israel, just after the Six-Day War. In the early 1970s, Freedman taught philosophy at Haifa University and a course on women in western philosophy at Oranim College. After a brief return to the United States in 1971, she brought her burgeoning interest in and experience with American feminism to Israel.(2)

As one of the leaders of the feminist movement in Israel, and as the first openly gay person elected to the Knesset (Israel’s national legislature), Freedman fought many uphill battles advocating for women’s rights at a time when men in the Knesset did not take women or women’s issues seriously. During her tenure in the Knesset from 1973 to 1977, Freedman worked tirelessly to bring feminist consciousness to the forefront of Israel’s parliament. Among her many accomplishments, she worked to reform Israel’s restrictive abortion laws, she opened the first battered women’s shelter in Israel, and she co-founded the (now-defunct) Women’s Party. In 1981, Freedman returned to the United States where she continued to raise awareness of Israel and feminist issues. Between 1997 to 2002, she embarked on another series of extended stays in Israel, after which she became the founding president of Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, the American Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace. This collection follows these different stages of the life and work of an important figure in Jewish feminist history. A wide range of materials is represented in her papers, including newspaper clippings, lecture notes, research files, correspondence, writings by Freedman (of personal, scholarly, and activist nature), and several incomplete (yet intriguing!) manuscripts and typescripts.

Among the many highlights of this amazing collection are the numerous notes, letters, and telegrams Freedman received upon her election to the Knesset in 1973 as a member of the nascent Citizens’ Rights Movement--words of praise and congratulations for her breaking of the gender barrier in Israel’s historically patriarchal government body. As well, there is a series of newspaper clippings related to Freedman’s involvement in the founding of the Jewish feminist movement in Israel, her work as a member of the Knesset, and her role as a co-founder of the Women’s Party (1977) in Israel. Also included in this collection are myriad reviews of her memoir Exile in the Promised Land – these are well worth a read as the book seems to have had quite the impact on its readers.

In addition, the collection contains Freedman’s thoughtfully organized typewritten email correspondence about the political climate and women’s peace movement in Israel from 1997 to 2002; her personal journal with commentaries on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Jewish feminism; and more than 20 years of transcribed conversations with her support/discussion group for aging women, the Wandering Menstruals. In reading through the many articles and papers Freedman wrote on sexism, feminism, Israel, philosophy, and other topics, researchers can easily gain a better understanding of the evolution and development of Freedman’s feminist and activist ideology, from its earliest stages through her active political career and beyond.

Among some of the other interesting materials in this collection is an incomplete typescript of a play Freedman was developing called “Cybele”, which seems to have been written with a contemporary, humorous feminist perspective on the topic of Cybele, the Anatolian mother of the Gods. Included as well are incomplete manuscripts Freedman wrote on various topics, including a book about her time in Israel from 1997 to 2002; a book entitled The Lady of the Wild Things: A Study in Religion, Sex and Power; and one entitled “Shiva,” which includes notes and comments by Esther Broner. Though these are incomplete, their contents nevertheless shed light on the roles that Judaism, feminism, peace, and Israel have played in Freedman’s life and work.

There are, of course, many other materials in the Marcia Freedman papers which are not mentioned in detail here, including research files from her many speaking engagements in the early 2000s, information about the organization for which she served as founding president, Brit Tzedek v’Shalom, and numerous audiovisual and born-digital materials. Needless to say, this collection is but a small testament to the trailblazing life and career of an American-Isreaeli Jewish feminist and activist named Marcia Freedman.
Come to Brandeis University’s Department of Archives & Special Collections to learn more about Marcia Freedman and our growing Jewish Feminist Collections.

(1) Knesset.gov
(2) Ajpeacearchive.org

For more details, the collection finding aid can be accessed here.

description by Jeff Hayes, MLIS candidate at the University of Alabama and Archives & Special Collections intern.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Trimalchio (or, The Great Gatsby)

In June 1922, F Scott Fitzgerald sent a brief letter to his editor: “When I send on this last bunch of stories I may start my novel. . .Its locale will be the middle west and New York of 1885 I think. It will concern less superlative beauties than I run to usually + will be centered on a smaller period of time. It will have a catholic element. I am not quite sure whether I’m ready to start it quite yet or not. I’ll write next week + tell you more definite plans.” Though perhaps not recognizable as such at this early stage of development, this is the first mention by Fitzgerald of his plan for the novel that would become his magnum opus [or take this phrase out altogether] The Great Gatsby.

In the canon of American Literature, The Great Gatsby often holds the honor of being considered the front contender for the title of the “Great American Novel.” Interestingly enough, however, this praise took decades to earn, and was something Fitzgerald himself sought tirelessly and unsuccessfully throughout the last two decades of his life. Among the rare book holdings of Brandeis’s Special Collections is a numbered facsimile of the first galley proofs of this book--known at the moment of its printing as “Trimalchio.” Though the originals sold at auction in 1971, in reality they are priceless because they comprise the only extant pre-publication version of the novel.

Sadly, aside from a hastily scribbled-over title change, there are no editorial notes on the pages. However, the layout and characterizations of Trimalchio differ greatly from the final novel, and therefore provide insight into one of the great, if not the greatest, American novels. This version of the book, from its early title to its preliminary layout (which differs quite a bit from the now-beloved published version) offers researchers a special view into Fitzgerald’s original intentions for the novel, and reflects his well-documented anxieties regarding its development and publication.

At its heart, the novel is about the rebound effects of the American Dream; a cynical, if not satirical, portrait of America at the height of the roaring 20’s. The protagonist, Jay Gatsby, is a self-made millionaire fighting to earn a place not only beside his debutante love Daisy Buchanan, but also alongside the upper-crust members of early 20th-century high society.

Though few critics would dare to call The Great Gatsby directly autobiographical, it is clear that it is perhaps one of the most meaningful to the author in terms of direct personal engagement, and was intended to be the culmination of semi-autobiographical themes he had explored in numerous previously published short stories and novels. The novel that Trimalchio became seems to mirror several of Fitzgerald’s struggles: to prove himself worthy of a wealthy woman, his lifelong effort to make something of himself, and his anxieties of failing to accomplish his dreams. Similarly, the Trimalchio proof seems to reflect the particular tensions and pressures Fitzgerald faced at the time of its writing: though he began the novel in the summer of 1923, he set it aside following the failure of his play The Vegetable in order to pay off his debts by quickly publishing a number of short stories. Furthermore, the relationship of Daisy and Gatsby can be said to parallel the path of Fitzgerald’s own marriage. In fact, snippets of Daisy’s dialogue are directly from Zelda. Daisy’s oft-quoted hope that her daughter would be a “beautiful little fool--that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world” were words spoken by Zelda in an anesthesia haze after giving birth to their only child – a daughter.

The most obvious and interesting difference between this proof and the final published work is the title. Fitzgerald cycled through several titles, including “Under the Red, White, and Blue,” “Among the Ash-Heaps and Millionaires,” “Gold-Hatted Gatsby,” and “Trimalchio in West Egg.” Often, he would set aside one title at the encouragement of friends and peers, just to return to it again later. It is important to note, however, that Fitzgerald seems to have favored some iteration on “Trimalchio” in most drafts, and with good reason.

Trimalchio, known well to Classics scholars, is a character from the work of Latin satirist Petronius. This text, Satyricon, follows the fictional journey of a traveling rhetoric teacher and his companion Giton. Satyricon is considered to be one of the earliest works of deliberate fiction, and is studied as a chronicle of attitudes and perceptions toward lower-class citizens of the Roman Empire. One of the work’s most famous sections describes the mishaps of a gaudy and crude party thrown by a former slave named Trimalchio, a man who embodies the “new money” archetype in every way. Trimalchio is boorish and rude, brightly gilded but lacking manners, substance, or even polity. Every aspect of his new existence is carefully chosen to reinforce his new status, and suggest an air of desperation to prove his place in proper society. His full name—Gaius Pompeius Trimalchio Maecenatianus—implies a link to both Pompey and Maecenas, famous figures in the late years of the Roman Republic, and while no one seems to be sure precisely how he made his vast and sudden wealth, they know at the very least it was in dishonest or distasteful ways.

Trimalchio is introduced as the host of a party in his villa, where he provides his guests a lavish but debauched experience. The revelers, largely fellow freedmen, marvel at his luxurious home and possessions and enjoy rich food, drink, and entertainment, all the while descending into increased drunkenness. Throughout the celebration Trimalchio attempts to impress his guests with symbols of his status and ubiquitous wealth, including repeated references to his lavish plans for his tomb. Indeed, the party culminates when Trimalchio’s obnoxious showiness prompts him to act out his own mock funeral for the amusement of his guests and his own reassurance.

The connection of title character Jay Gatsby to Trimalchio is clear. Gatsby is a former nobody who can suddenly claim great wealth by uncertain means, a figure of gossip and speculation trusted by no one, whose wealth is taken advantage of by everyone. Much like Trimalchio’s miscalculated fete, and despite, or perhaps because of, his best intentions, Gatsby’s parties do not represent wealth and status so much as corruption and excess. The nouveau riche and corrupted old money alike consume these parties decadently, partaking in the free-flowing drink, food, and jazz music. Their excessiveness suggests an underlying crudeness lacking in those securely born into wealth and status - a theme that underwrites the main tension of the novel.

Fitzgerald seems to have greatly enjoyed the “Trimalchio” title, and felt that it represented best the ideology and paradoxical “innocent corruption” the character of Gatsby was meant to embody. Unfortunately, the “Trimalchio”-based titles were ultimately forced into rejection by his publishers based on their belief that the American public could neither pronounce the name nor understand the reference.

Among the other changes from the Trimalchio proof to the published Gatsby is a less complete failure of Gatsby’s dream: his relationship with his father appears more friendly and communicative, and is associate Meyer Wolfsheim appears to have a genuine fondness for Gatsby and regret over his death, rather than the character serving as a mere shadow figure who used Gatsby as a tool and scavenged his estate for profit. As well, his argument with his rival Tom Buchanan is more even and less awkward for Gatsby, and the chain of events leading to the pivotal death of Tom’s mistress Myrtle Wilson is far more ambiguous in terms of who was responsible for the accident. In general, careful readers will find subtle shifts in the dialogue and plot which provide new perspectives and insight into well-tread events and familiar characters.

Sadly, even after settling on a title and plot, The Great Gatsby proved to be a nagging anxiety for Fitzgerald and was accompanied by unrest in both his personal and professional life. Fitzgerald’s moderate literary success, for example, proved a stress in his marriage. His wife Zelda, from a wealthy and influential family, had married him on condition that he could support her and her lifestyle. On a writer’s income, this proved near impossible. Much of the positive reviews of Gatsby at the time of its publication came from personal communications from writer and critics friends to whom he had he sent copies, seeking legitimate praise and approval. Yet, even with their encouraging remarks, he never seemed quite satisfied. At the time of its publication, the novel was deemed an overwrought mess, irrelevant, and gaudy. Many critics panned it, and it was considered a mediocre commercial success at best. The value of the novel was proven only after it could be read objectively in separation from the age which produced it, by which point the Great Depression and the Second World War had sobered America and the country felt a paradoxical coexistence of nostalgia and disdain for Gatsby’s era.

Within the past two years, Cambridge University Press has released an edited copy of this proof, titled Trimalchio: An Early Version of the Great Gatsby. Though this mass-produced version is far easier on the eyes to read, Fitzgerald fans, biographers, and literary critics and scholars might find that the opportunity to see the text as Fitzgerald and his publishers would have read it, crooked, with ink block smudges and typos rampant, holds a unique charm. In addition, this limited release contains an afterword by literary scholar and professor, Matthew J. Bruccoli, which provides a wealth of insight into the creative process and agonies of writing The Great Gatsby, as well as the biographical events of Fitzgerald’s life and death which helped shaped the beloved novel as it is known today. Though Brandeis’ galley proofs are clean copy (they do not have any handwritten edits), they nonetheless contain interesting information and, when compared to the final form of the Gatsby so cherished today, lift the veil on the publishing and editorial process of a novel that has inspired generations of writers, filmmakers, and dreamers.

description by Katie Graff, MA student in Classical Studies and Archives & Special Collections assistant.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Coptic Liturgy and Prayers: The Anaphora of Saint Cyril

Special Collections is proud to hold a manuscript copy of the Anaphora of Saint Cyril. It is written in both Arabic and Bohairic, a dialect of Coptic which is itself the final form of ancient Egyptian before Arabic became the vernacular of the region. Donated to Brandeis by Maury A. Bromsen, this manuscript is part of the Rare Non-Western Manuscripts collection. The text is 14 pages long, with a written surface of roughly 5.5” x 4”and dates to the 13th-14th centuries. Each page contains two columns of text, fourteen lines per page, with Coptic on the left, and Arabic on the right.

The word anaphora is from the Greek αναφορα and means “offering”. It is the prayer in the Mass that is said when the bread and wine are turned into the body and blood of Christ, thereby affecting the Eucharist. It is considered the most solemn section of the entire liturgy. The Eucharist is the height of religious experience for many Christians and commemorates Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. The word is originally Greek, ευχαριςτια, and means “thanksgiving”. References to the establishment of this tradition at the Lord’s Supper in the canonical Gospels are Mark 14:22-25, Matthew 26:26-29, and Luke 22:13-20. A Pauline reference can be found in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25. The Didache, a non-canonical early Christian text, first uses the term "eucharist" in reference to this ritual act.

The prayer begins by proclaiming God’s position in the spiritual realms over all dominion, authority, and orders of angelic beings. It then continues on into a description of how Jesus sanctified the bread and wine at the Lord’s Supper right before his death. Reciting this prayer, the priest repeats the words and actions of Jesus in order to sanctify bread and wine all over again. This creates a sweeping cosmological and historical context for the Eucharistic act which is the culmination of the entire liturgy.

This manuscript contains only the Anaphora of Saint Cyril, with no other parts of the ritual included. The Anaphora of Saint Cyril is still used today as a traditional prayer by both the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Coptic Catholic Church. It has been combined with the Liturgy of Saint Basil and can be used during Lent. It is rarely performed in the modern day. This anaphora, which is known as the Liturgy of Saint Mark when it is in the original Greek, is part of the Alexandrian Rite, which is to say that it is in the tradition of the Coptic, Ethiopian, and Eritrean churches. It was Saint Cyril who originally translated this liturgy into Coptic.

description by Clark Aitkins Jr., BA Religious Studies, Indiana University of Pennsylvania & MTS New Testament and Early Christianity, Harvard Divinity School.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Theobaldus's Phisiologus de Naturis Duodecim Animalum, 1493

Precursors of the fantastical and brightly-illuminated bestiaries of later medieval times, physiologia were didactic and allegorical Christian texts which presented a catalog of the history and lore of the natural world. While these manuscripts would hardly be recognizable to a modern audience as reliable sources of scientific or zoological information, they have nevertheless been enjoyed throughout the centuries by scholars, theologians, and the casual page-turner alike.

The roots of physiologia go back to Late Antiquity. Though scholars debate the exact date of the first physiologus, most agree it was created in Egypt between the first and second centuries C.E. The earliest known physiologus featured stories that would become hallmarks of these texts and the later illuminated bestiaries which followed them. Some of the first known tales of mythological creatures—such as that of the phoenix rising from its own ashes—as well as mythological tales of real animals—like that of the pelican shedding blood onto its young to revive them—are contained in this text.

Though physiologia delighted readers of all ages, these compendia were especially valuable as teaching tools for young children. Because of its versatility and whimsical, entertaining nature, the physiologus is thought to have been the widest-circulated form of literature, after the Bible, for most of the Middle Ages. Though common allegorical notions and lore for particular animals connect across each version, each physiologus is unique and, often, anonymously authored. Each scribe imparted their own unique influence to each story, highlighting the moral aspects and biblical stories they wished to emphasize. Much like the later Fables of Aesop, human and theological characteristics were attributed to both real and mythological animals in order to impart moral and social lessons.

Excitingly, Brandeis University’s Archives and Special Collections holds a beautiful example of one such physiologus as part of its Incunabula collection*. Brandeis’ physiologus is a 1493 printing of a Latin manuscript attributed to Bishop Theobaldus, Abbot of Monte Cassino ca. 1022 to 1035. Fully titled Phisiologus de Naturis Duodecim Animalum, Theobaldus’s version contains the moral lessons of twelve animal entries: Lion, Eagle, Snake, Ant, Fox, Stag, Spider, Whale, Siren, Elephant, Turtle-dove, and Panther. Though much smaller in number than other physiologia, the Theobaldus manuscript is unique in its metered form and inclusion of creatures typically left out of most versions of the genre.

Each entry contains two elements—a natural history of the animal and an application of allegory to what was described in the first part of the entry. The first contains an explanation of a selection of known or rumored behaviors and appearance of the animal, such as the Snake’s shedding of its skin or the coat pattern of the Panther. Other descriptions are slightly more fanciful:

Stands in his might the Lion, on the highest peak of the mountain,
By whatsoever road he descends to the depth of the valley,
If through his sense of smell he perceives the approach of a hunter,
He rubs out with his tail, all the marks which his feet may have printed,
So that none most skilled can tell what road he has travelled,
Cubs, new born, live not till the sun three courses has finished,
Then with a roar the Lion arouses his cub from his slumbers,
When he begins to live, and gains all five of his senses,
Now whenever he sleeps his eyelids never are closed.

These natural histories are then followed by an allegorical application of the animal’s described nature and characteristics into a moral lesson. As one could likely guess from the example, the lion, in the second component of its entry, will be explained as symbolic of the life of Christ, awakened by his father after “three slumbers.” Furthermore, the belief that a lion sleeps with eyes open is a reminder to Christians to be watchful of the second coming. Each entry is fascinating in the nuances of its theological allegories—the eagle as repentant and weary sinner, the ant as a wise worker who stores away its treasures, and the whale as a symbol of false gods and prophets. The Spider is particularly interesting and important, as the Theobaldus physiologus contains the only known such occurrence of this animal in surviving manuscripts, as well as the Siren, which is not only mythological, but typically anthropomorphic, and therefore not often included in lists of animals.

Beyond the fable-esque qualities of the text, however, physiologia are valuable not only because of their colorful descriptions and literary qualities. Their existence, in addition to the unique structures and elements differing across each reiteration of the genre, reflect the philosophical and theological thought of the historical moment in which each version was created. Overall, these texts demonstrate the underlying doctrinal belief that since all of creation could be attributed to God, then of course elements of this creation—plants and animals—would be imbued with special messages and meanings. The ways in which this doctrine was applied in texts such as these, as well as the shifts in the animals chosen for each anthology and their particular aspects, allegories, and characteristics, is a growing topic of research and inquiry.

As the physiologus form developed into the bestiary, scribes would begin to add bright illuminations and fantastical, though often unrecognizable, illustrations of the different animals. The allegories and connections of the animals would become ever more mythological and their descriptions and behaviors more fanciful. Each volume produced would alter the stories slightly more, and each author would add a small piece of themselves and their world into the texts. Yet their role as a source of whimsical moral instruction and a reflection of the beliefs of the age remained a constant in the ongoing evolution of study of the natural world.

*Icunabula (Latin for "cradles" or "swaddling clothes") are materials (books, pamphlets, broadsides) printed (not handwritten) before 1501 (that is, they were printed in the first fifty years after the invention of the printing press).

description by Katie Graff, MA student in Classical Studies and Archives & Special Collections assistant.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Children's Literature Collection

Love it or hate it—or, display some more middle-way attitude if it pleases you—popular fiction plays an important role in society. The Brandeis Collection of Children’s Literature contains examples of the genre that date from the fin-de-siècle to the Eisenhower administration. Only four authors get detailed mention on this site, but the collection is much more extensive, including books from Henry Castelmon’s The Sportsman’s Club series, the X Bar X Boys, MacGuffey’s Reader, and Ainsworth Magazine, among others. A broader sample is available here.

Though often caricatured as simple rubber stamps for the dominant social values of their time, these books reflect some of the narrative challenges that come with trying to validate through myth a power structure that undermines its own myth. This is generally expressed as a problem of plotting in the novels discussed in this exhibit. One might ask how an author concludes his story of upward mobility in a satisfying way, if possessing wealth has been marked negatively throughout the story. What kinds of heroes fail in a popular novel? More specifically, what kind of hero fails in, say, a novel by Horatio Alger, who does not fail in a novel by Oliver Optic? If popular fiction serves only to reinforce the status quo, why do the novels in this collection have such different attitudes about wealth, the right way to attain it, and the right way to use it?

In making these books available to a wider audience, this exhibit hopes to encourage further discussion of popular fiction’s social function. A list of the entire collection is available via Brandeis library catalog. For those books out of copyright protection, the catalog offers links to online versions available, for free, through the Internet Archive.

A brief word about provenance: The Collection of Children's Literature is a part of the Dime Novels and Juvenile Literature Collection. The department received these materials from different sources. Large donations came from Charles and Edward Levy, Victor Berch, and Edward T. LeBlanc.

Horatio Alger

Alger’s heroes are working-class adolescent boys who, through hard work, honest dealings, and temperance, rise to live in bourgeois comfort. Herbert Carter’s Legacy (1875) follows one such boy as he struggles to make ends meet until he can overcome his financial straits. Midway through the novel, Alger writes, “To be willing to work, and yet to be unable to find an opportunity, was certainly a hardship.” And indeed, in Alger’s novels, each hero’s metaphysical crisis comes from not being able to use his able body, rather than from being without money. Alger’s villains, rascals, and knaves are pointlessly, infuriatingly wealthy, and his women are either dutiful mothers or triumphantly conscienceless manipulators. They are, in Alger’s world, non-producers. The concept of work as its own end is hardly unique to this novelist, but he does employ it in unexpected ways. In his moralization of President James A. Garfield’s life, From Canal Boy to President, he describes the future president’s introduction to the world of work, in which a farmer offers a job to his older brother, Thomas. “’I need help on my farm, and I guess you will suit me,’ said Mr. Conrad, though that was not his name. In fact, I don’t know his name, but that will do as well as any other” (page 12). Later, Alger writes that the meeting with Mr. Conrad did not happen at all, and that he will henceforth follow the narrative provided by Edmund Kirke. But in turning to a more reliable history, he does not invalidate the fiction that he has now admitted is fiction. That is the power of work. It is so exciting an idea that facts are secondary.

Oliver Optic

Oliver Optic’s heroes are often allowed to enjoy their financial security. His “All Over the World Library” (1892-1898) follows the heroically wealthy Louis Belgrave, whose adventures depend upon his wealth. Optic acknowledges his debt to Belgrave’s assets in the preface to the second book in the series, A Millionaire at Sixteen (1892), by writing, “Possibly some of my numerous friends may have accused me, after reading the first volume [A
Missing Million (1892)], with being unnecessarily liberal to my hero, in supplying him with ‘the missing million,’ even augmented to nearly half as much more, so that he is actually a millionaire and a half; but the present story will assure such critics that even this vast sum was necessary in carrying out the purposes of the writer.” Louis Belgrave would be a smug, obnoxious rich boy in an Alger novel, but Optic caresses him through such difficulties as almost losing some money, very nearly being sued, and having no choice but to shoot a penurious rapscallion in the shoulder. Optic’s novels take comfort in noblesse oblige, even when the results are more complicated than strictly noble.

Tom Swift, Jr. by Victor Appleman, Jr.

In Tom Swift, Jr., Victor Appleton, Jr., adds an Eisenhower-era spin to the problem of heroes and money. Swift is an eighteen-year-old inventor-patriot who uses his talents to outfox suggestively-named enemies like the Brungarians and Kranjovians. He decodes a message from outer space in a couple of days, builds an atmosphere spreader (for putting atmosphere where it isn’t) overnight, and troubleshoots a faulty repelatron (his replacement for rocket power) the afternoon before he uses it to fly to the moon. Naturally, he is rewarded for his brilliance with wealth (his father, Tom Swift, Sr., owns an island, about twenty jets, and, if my geography is correct, most of the northern seaboard), but Appleton has a different challenge from either Optic's or Alger's: wealth or no wealth, Tom must be middle-class. Appleton therefore introduces red herring villains—American men who have inherited more wealth than Tom and his father have earned—who function as safety valves for the anti-upper-class bias. This, then, provides Tom with competitors who, as the sad end of the aristocratic tradition, cannot compete with him. The stories follow him from one success to the next, building suspense not from danger and the threat of violence, but from anticipation about Tom’s next great achievement. But all this success has a noticeable downside for the hero. When, through circumstances beyond his control, he cannot invent, troubleshoot, or produce the next great thing, he gets bored. In Tom Swift, Jr. and the Race to the Moon (1958), he and his best bud, Bud, find themselves marooned in space, with no hope of being found before their oxygen runs out. What is the great problem they face in the interim? How to pass the time. Death by asphyxiation-in-a-few-hours is terribly dull, and it takes all of his formidable imagination to come up with jokes that will get them through it. Unfortunately, we don’t know what any of those jokes are, as the efficient Appleton deals with the entire drama with the following few lines:

Time dragged by. Tom and Bud swapped jokes and chattered away to keep up their spirits. From time to time they sipped at their liquid ration, which was the only way of taking nourishment inside the bulky space suits and helmets.
Hope waned as their air supply grew stale and sluggish. The two boys lapsed into gloomy silence. It was broken as Bud suddenly cried out:
“Tom! A rocket!”

Tom’s adventures triumph over boredom as easily as he triumphs over all that is not as American as apple pie, and teach the hard-earned lesson that the only real threat to happiness is not being able to invent.

Jerry Todd, by Leo Edwards

The eponymous hero of the Jerry Todd stories (1924-1938) is safely middle-class. His creator, Leo Edwards, is therefore free from the rhetorical problem of a hero with too much money, and can focus all his energies on overcoming boredom. He even manages to give some depth to his characters. Though Jerry Todd and his friends are earnest and well-meaning, they are also irresponsible. And though the novels toe the respect-your-elders-and-love-your-country line, they are not so stuffily orthodox that the authority figures cannot have faults or errors in judgment, or cannot look, at times, a little foolish. When, for example, Officer Bill Hadley misses his wedding because he’s been knocked unconscious and placed, handcuffed, on a train to the next town by Jerry and the gang—whose overzealous attempts to validate themselves as Junior Jupiter detectives do more to move the plot along than solve the mysteries they investigate—he returns to town with a story of how he fought off upwards of twenty strong men.

For more images and please visit the online exhibit: Brandeis University Collection of Children's Literature

description by Jonathan Sudholt.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Crimean War in the French and British satirical press

Political intrigue has long served as artistic fodder, and political cartoons provide a particularly fascinating way to trace the winding paths of historical events, and the way in which this amusing and often subversive commentary offered readers alternative viewpoints on the events of the day. This post explores the way in which people and events connected with the Crimean War were represented in the French and British satirical press. It focuses specifically on cartoons by Honoré Daumier, John Tenniel, and John Leech that appeared in Le Charivari (France) and Punch, or the London Charivari (England), two major 19th-century satirical publications.

Special Collections is proudly home to several collections featuring the art of political satire, including one of the major Daumier collections in the United States. The Benjamin A. and Julia M. Trustman Collection of Honoré Daumier Lithographs (collection finding aid here) comprises nearly the entire oeuvre of Daumier in the lithographic medium, making it a unique resource for the study of Daumier's art and nineteenth-century French history. The entire collection of lithographs  has been digitized and placed in the Brandeis Institutional Repository (BIR). This digitization was made possible by a 2001 Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant. See the Daumier Spotlight for more information about the Trustman collection as a whole and the Spotlight on Punch's Pocket Book for more about that Punch-offshoot publication. Partial or whole runs of PunchThe Illustrated London News, and Le Charivari can be found in the Library stacks and in Special Collections.


The Russo-Turkish War and the subsequent Crimean War flared between 1853 and 1856, and together they constituted the largest international conflict involving European powers between the Napoleonic Wars and World War I. Starting in 1851, political tensions ran high between France and Russia over which country should serve as guardian of the Christian Holy Places in Palestine, which at the time fell within the borders of the Ottoman Empire. After the Turks granted guardianship of the Holy Places to France, Russia reacted by occupying the Danubian Principalities on July 2, 1853 and invading Ottoman territory on March 20, 1854. One week later, Britain and France joined Turkey in declaring war on Russia. The Turks surprisingly beat the Russians back, pushing them out of Ottoman territory. Russia, however, refused to accept the terms of peace, prompting an invasion of the Crimea by Great Britain and France with the goal of capturing the naval port at Sebastopol and forcing Russia into submission.

The Crimean War has been termed the first media war. The development of the telegraph allowed news of the war to be sent home within days rather than weeks. Photography for the first time captured the brutality of war, and these images stirred up considerable outcries among the English and French public. Due to the obscure politics driving the war and the almost immediate reportage of events on the battle fields, popular enthusiasm in support of the war never materialized in England or France.

During the time of the Crimean War, Le Charivari and Punch were the leading satirical publications in France and England, respectively. The French artist Honoré Daumier published many of his famous lithographs in Le Charivari, while John Leech and John Tenniel (the original illustrator of the Alice in Wonderland books) produced almost all of the illustrations for Punch. These political cartoonists reflected the public' s general ambivalence towards the war by lampooning the botched diplomacy and inept military leadership that led to needless suffering among the soldiers. Most of their satirical invective, however, was aimed at Russia and its role in fomenting war.

The Crimean War: The Turkish Question
Russia in Europe with Transcaucasia.
(from The History of the War Against Russia by Edward Henry Nolan. London: Virtue, [1855-57?].)
This map shows the area of conflict during the Crimean War. In crossing the Danube River on the western edge of the Black Sea and into Ottoman territory, the Russians had designs on moving south and taking over Constantinople to open up easy shipping lanes to the Mediterranean. When this plan was thwarted by the Turks, the theater of war shifted to the Crimea, the peninsula that sits at the northern part of the Black Sea.
“Parisians Busy Studying the Turkish Question.”
Honoré Daumier. Actualités, no. 44. Le Charivari. August 4, 1853. LD 2370.
The Russian army crossed the Pruth River on July 3, 1853 and occupied Bucharest by July 15, bringing the Danubian Principalities under Russian control. The French press relentlessly reported on these events and the threat of war.
"A Consultation about the State of Turkey"
John Leech. Cartoon. Punch. September 17, 1853.
France and England confer while the specter of Russia looms over the sick Sultan of Turkey in anticipation of the break up of the Ottoman Empire.

Czar Nicholas I
Nicholas, ‘Autocrat of All the Russians’
From M. Demidoff’s ‘Travels in Southern Russia and the Crimea.’ The Illustrated London News. August 6, 1853.
This formal portrait provides a sharp contrast to the way Czar Nicholas I was depicted in the satirical press.

“Emperor Nicholas working in his cabinet room.” 
Honoré Daumier. Actualités, no. 94. 
Le Charivari. August 8, 1850. LD 1999. 
Trampling on a map of France in his war room, Czar Nicholas I of Russia brandishes his sword and loses his hat while a Cossack looks on, his spear pointed at France. The Czar conducted an often openly hostile relationship with France.

"Pet of the Manchester School"
John Tenniel. Cartoon. Punch. April 15, 1854.
Richard Cobden, a leading supporter of the Peace Society, and John Bright, a Quaker and member of Parliament, both openly opposed war with Russia. These two politicians from Manchester are shown facilitating a tantrum by Czar Nicholas I and his attempts to destroy the Turkish Empire.

“Te Deum [laudamus]” (We praise Thee, O God)
[A traditional Christian hymn of joy and thanksgiving.]
John Leech. Cartoon. Punch. January 28, 1854.
Russia, purportedly representing the interests of the Greek Orthodox Church, sought to serve as the protectorate of the Christian Holy Places lying within Turkish territory. The general opinion in Europe was that Czar Nicholas I used Turkey’s refusal to grant Russia this privilege as a pretext to carry out his true desire, namely to destroy the Ottoman Empire. This view informs the depiction of Czar Nicholas I as a devil figure within a religious setting. Note the cloven hoof in place of his left foot.

“THE TEMPTER: If you consent to being mine, that empire will be yours.”
Honoré Daumier. Actualités, no. 40. Le Charivari. April 26, 1854. LD 2494.
Traditional allies of Russia stayed out of the war, leaving Russia isolated. Daumier here draws upon the iconography of the Temptation of Christ: Nicholas I as the Devil tempts the Greek king, Otto I, to enter the war with the prize of Constantinople and a revival of the Byzantine Empire in a conquered Turkey.

Czar Alexander II
Alexander II, Emperor of Russia.
The Illustrated London News. March 17, 1855.
This mounted portrait appeared in The Illustrated London News shortly after Czar Alexander II assumed the throne of Russia.
"The Young Czar Coming into his Property"
John Tenniel. Cartoon. Punch. March 17, 1855.
After Czar Nicholas I died on March 2, 1855, his son, Alexander II, succeeded him on the throne. Here Alexander is shown inheriting the war started by his father.
“They say that I will soon be reduced to exchanging my crown for a simple hat!”
Honoré Daumier. Actualités, no. 249. Le Charivari. December 1, 1855. LD 2554.
Czar Alexander I contemplates his possible fate after the Russians suffer severe losses on the battlefield.
“THE CZAR AT SEVASTOPOL: It’s vexing—they know that I don’t like the tricolor flag, yet they have put it everywhere!” 
Honoré Daumier. Actualités, no. 251. Le Charivari. December 29, 1855. LD 2558.
The Russians lost Sebastopol to the Allied Army on September 11, 1855. A frustrated Czar Alexander II looks over the Russian naval port, only to see it occupied by the French.
Turkey and the Russian Bear
“The Northern Bear, the Most Disagreeable of All the Known Bears.”
Honoré Daumier. Actualités, no. 36; Chargeons les Russes (Let’s Make Caricatures of the Russians), no. 10. Le Charivari. April 17–18, 1854. LD 2493.
The bellicose Russian Bear as an autocrat with all of its subjects kneeling at its feet.
"Turkey in Danger"
John Tenniel. Cartoon. Punch. April 9, 1853.
The Russian Bear in both images is shown threatening Turkey during the dispute over the guardianship of the Holy Places. 
"Paws Off, Bruin!"
John Tenniel. Cartoon/Initial. Punch. June 4, 1853.
The Russian Bear in both images is shown threatening Turkey during the dispute over the guardianship of the Holy Places. Note the British Lion lounging in the background of the Initial, “T.”
"The Bear and the Bees--A New Version of an Old Story"
John Tenniel. Cartoon. Punch. July 16, 1853.
This print plays on an old folktale where a bear threatens to use his great strength against a hive of bees if they do not give him free honey. The bees refuse, and when the bear sticks his tongue in the hive to take the honey by force, the bees attack him, and their combined stings make the bear run away. Here, the Turks play the role of the bees—with their mosques resembling beehives—in beating back the advances of the Russian army on Turkish territory.
“David and Goliath.”
Honoré Daumier. Actualités, no. 77. Le Charivari. July 5, 1854. LD 2521.
Czar Nicholas I (Goliath) takes on the Turkish Empire (David).
"The Giant and the Dwarf"
John Tenniel. Cartoon. Punch. August 5, 1854.
The Allied Army of France and Great Britain (the Giant) urges Turkey (The Dwarf) to continue fighting, given its success against the Russian Army in the Danubian Principalities.

The Russian Cossacks

"Cossack of the Don."
The Illustrated London News. February 11, 1854.
"A Good Joke"
John Tenniel. Cartoon. Punch. July 23, 1853.
A heavily armed Russian Cossack soldier threateningly mocks a diminutive Turk, with French and British sailors standing in support behind him. After Russia invaded the Danubian Principalities, British and French fleets were positioned to aid Turkey in the event of war.
“Method for training the Cossacks.”
Honoré Daumier. Actualités, no. 28; Les Cosaques pour rire (Laughing at the Cossacks), no. 16. Le Charivari. April 4, 1854. LD 2479.

With tensions between France and Russia running high, an old wives’ tale that Cossacks subsisted on candles surfaced, which Daumier played to the hilt with caricatures of uncouth, candle-eating Cossacks dominating several of his lithographs. Here, the Cossacks’ supposed hunger for candles spurs them on during a military training session.
“Distribution of one day’s worth of extra rations.”
Honoré Daumier. Actualités, no. 34; Les Cosaques pour rire (Laughing at the Cossacks), no. 20. Le Charivari. April 13, 1854. LD 2481.
The box in the background reads, “Top Quality Lampions”—flat, plate-shaped iron vessels filled with oil and wicks, perhaps booty from the conquered Danubian Principalities. The Cossack in the middle is licking his normal meal of candles, while his cohort on the right is salivating over his bonus lampion. Note the Cossack sitting in the background licking a lampion as if it were a plate or shallow bowl.
Negotiating the Peace
"The Split Crown in the Crimea"
John Leech. Cartoon. Punch. September 29, 1855.
After a year-long siege by the French and British armies, the Russians abandoned the naval port of Sebastopol on September 11, 1855. Here, two allied soldiers have the Russian split crow wounded and on the run.
“Between war and peace.”
Honoré Daumier. Actualités, no. 256. Le Charivari. December 29, 1855. LD 2733.
Czar Alexander II stands between a soldier who wants war and a politician who wants peace. The Treaty of Paris, then in discussion, would bring an end to the Crimean War.
John Leech. Cartoon. Punch. January 26, 1856.
Czar Alexander II offers olive branches to French and British commanders, who are skeptical, given Russia’s expansionist tendencies. Nonetheless, the Treaty of Paris was signed on March 30, 1856. The Treaty lacked any mention of the Holy Places, which originally served as the supposed rationale for the war.

War's Aftermath
"Grand Military Spectacle"
John Leech. Cartoon. Punch. November 3, 1855.
The British supply chain broke down during the winter of 1855/1856, creating appalling conditions for the soldiers on the field and in hospitals, while many British officers sought shelter in their yachts. The situation was immediately reported in the press and led to public outcry over the bungled military operations. Here, in a reversal of celebratory protocol, soldiers returning from the war—many injured—inspect the field-marshals, who appear none the worse for wear.
"Piping Time of Peace"
John Leech. Cartoon. Punch. April 5, 1856.
These two cartoons lampoon the use of ceremonial bagpipes to welcome soldiers returning home from the war. In the image on the right, a soldier ties squealing pigs to himself before attending a ceremony to help him adjust to the noise of the bagpipes.
"A Real Soldier"
John Leech. Cartoon. Punch. April 5, 1856.
These two cartoons lampoon the use of ceremonial bagpipes to welcome soldiers returning home from the war. In the image on the right, a soldier ties squealing pigs to himself before attending a ceremony to help him adjust to the noise of the bagpipes.
“Saint Mitrophan and the God Mars Resting from the Fatigues of War.”
Honoré Daumier. Actualités, no. 272. Le Charivari. February 9, 1856. LD 2563.
St. Mitrophan of Voronezh (one of the Russian protector saints) and Mars (the god of war), exhausted from battle, rest on some clouds during the negotiation of the Treaty of Paris.