Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát is a translation that once compared with the Bible for its popularity and familiarity. It was the most popular poem in the English language. Edward FitzGerald’s first edition translation of the Rubáiyát by Omar Khayyám was published anonymously in 1859. Although published the same year as Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, the small print run of the Persian poem did not sell for two years. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, other Pre-Raphaelites and, eventually, John Ruskin, all read Edward FitzGerald’s translation of Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát and it fit their artistic aesthetic philosophy perfectly. A cult-like following for Omar Khayyám’s Rubáiyát blossomed and lasted through World War I and beyond. Fueled by reader demand several hundred editions and reprints of this Persian poem were produced. There were collectible fine press editions, beautifully illustrated editions and many lesser editions—some mass-produced and some for soldiers to take with them into World War I battle. Omar Khayyám clubs and societies sprang up and consumer products were named for the poet and his work. There were Omar brand cigarettes, cigars, a tooth powder and perfumes that marketed the romantic themes of Khayyám’s Rubáiyát—it was so familiar and deeply rooted in the Western culture that “Omar” and a line from his poem could sell the product.
For a less-than-serious take on this serious and famous poem, you might have fun with the punny Rocky & Bullwinkle “Ruby Yacht.”
William H. Loos (February 26, 1937 – January 24, 2017)
Sad news for current and former Rare Book staff to learn of the passing of William H. Loos, the highly respected Rare Book Curator who held the position for 30 years, retiring in 2002. A native Western New Yorker, Bill Loos graduated from the University of Buffalo and Syracuse University, specializing in Rare Book Librarianship. During his distinguished career with the library system, Bill was instrumental during the recovery of the missing Huckleberry Finn manuscript part, as well as the acquisition of the Milestones of Science collection. He also “rediscovered” among our collections the Negro Exhibit pamphlet from the Pan-American Exposition in 1901. His work with local and national literary celebrities garnered him much acclaim in numerous local publications during the 1980’s and 1990’s, and he appeared as an articulate lecturer throughout the northeast, regaling his listeners on the pleasures and perils of being a rare book custodian. He will be sadly missed.
This Friday, October 28, 5 – 8 p.m., is the Buffalo State Art Conservation Department’s annual Open House. If you have any interest in the ways that historic–even rare–paper, bound works, ceramics, painted works, etc. are kept “alive” for future generations to love, you really should attend this open house. This is where the magic of conservation happens!
What you come away from this once-a-year event with is an appreciation for the fact that conservationists are exceptional people with great knowledge of art, art history, culture and science–yes, science!!! Students accepted into this highly competitive program come in with a lot of experience and demonstrated knowledge already and go through this intensive graduate program so that they emerge the most well-prepared conservationists for whatever they encounter in the field.
Please see http://artconservation.buffalostate.edu/news/glance-world-art-conservation-during-open-house for more information.
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Buffalo has much to boast about these days, though most residents may not realize that two complete sets of the rare and treasured folios of William Shakespeare – the very first printings of his transformative canon of plays – are held in public trust by the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library (B&ECPL) and the University at Buffalo.
Source: Buffalo and UB libraries to hold wedding of the folios, merging Buffalo’s treasured Shakespeare works
The Rare Book Room of the B&ECPL houses among its local, national and international treasures the historical artifacts of the previous library institutions that preceded our present library system. Thousands of paper items have been preserved through the years including documents, certificates, flyers, photographs and library reports. Our predecessors left behind rich collections of Buffalo library history and the Rare Book Room has recently enhanced our finding aids to reflect the many papers and objects in this collection.
In this blog entry we would like to showcase some of the objects in the library archives. Among them, printers blocks for publications produced by the Buffalo Public and Grosvenor Libraries; an old printing press, inker stand and an antique lion’s head embosser; a sketch of the Grosvenor Library building from 1941 by H. G. Durston; watercolor sketches of the murals from the same library; metal photographic plates from 1906; and the Royal typewriter from the 1940’s that belonged to our beloved first curator of Rare Books, Jane Van Arsdale.
Read all about it: a BBC report “Shakespeare First Folio discovered on Scottish island” by Sean Coughlan tells of a newly discovered First Folio bound in three parts. Emma Smith of Oxford University foretold of this find when she was here on March 28. She, as this article explains, was the person who first studied and authenticated this copy. It’s a fascinating First Folio story–one that William Shakespeare himself might have enjoyed!
The exhibit Celebrating 400 Years of Shakespeare: Reflecting on the Life of the Bard is now open for viewing! On display are the First (1623), Second (1632), Third (1664) and Fourth (1685) Folios, along with the Poems (1640) of William Shakespeare. Historical, religious, literary and scientific works that potentially influenced Shakespeare’s writing are presented as well. Significant works include Holinshed’s Chronicles, Bibles and the Book of Common Prayer, Plutarch’s Lives, Ben Jonson’s Works, and Foxes’ Acts and Monuments along with others.
On March 28 the library was fortunate enough to host Emma Smith from Oxford University who gave an interesting and delightful talk “From the Barbican to Buffalo: Why Shakespeare’s First Folio Matters.” Within this presentation, Emma spoke about an apprentice in the Jaggard print shop who was responsible for many errors and corrections in the First Folio. In particular the young apprentice typeset a very important stage direction toward the end of The Tragedy of King Lear. The line was supposed to read “He dies” yet it took three tries for this compositor/typesetter to get it right! In examining our First Folio after the presentation, we looked at this line with Emma and found our copy was the compositor’s second try as it reads “He dis.” It was not until the third try/state that he set the line to read correctly.
Information about more upcoming events in and around Buffalo intended to celebrate Shakespeare may be found at the Bvffalo Bard 2016 blog (https://buffalobard.wordpress.com/