Here’s to a Couple of Ruff Characters

Four hundred years ago this weekend, two of the greatest geniuses in wordcraft this world has ever seen both died: William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes.

William Shakespeare

The Bard

Shakespeare’s plays still dazzle, written though they are in Elizabethan English and iambic pentameter; their story lines are still fresh enough to inspire endless straight-play performance worldwide, Broadway musicals (“Kiss Me, Kate”) and international covers such as the Japanese samurai-setting movies by director Akira Kurosawa (“Throne of Blood” and “Ran.”)

Miguel de Cervantes

El Principe

Cervantes is known among the Spanish-speaking as “El Principe de los Ingenios,” or “The Prince of Wits,” and is recognized worldwide as the father of the modern novel for his masterpiece “Don Quixote.” Spanish national television stopped by Friday to view rare editions of that classic held by the Library, including a 1605 Madrid edition, a pirated edition of that year printed in Portugal, and a beautiful recent limited edition in Galician, with art by Galician masters.  Cervantes also made it to Broadway, via “Man of La Mancha.”

The pirated 1605 edition of "Don Quixote"

The pirated 1605 edition of “Don Quixote”

It is fitting, in the light of their towering talents, that UNESCO declared April 23 World Book and Copyright Day. How amazing is it that the thoughts of two ink-stained men can be delivered to us through books—they still speak to us four centuries after they left this earth. As Shakespeare wrote in his Sonnet 55: “Not marble, nor the gilded monuments/ Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme.”

The Bard and El Principe – here’s to the next 400 years.

Saving America’s Radio Heritage

(The following is a guest post by Gene DeAnna, head of the recorded sound section in the Library’s Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.) I’m often asked what sound recordings are most at risk of being lost before we are able to preserve them. The fact is, the two-headed monster of physical degradation and […]

Be Kind to Books Club

The following post is by Lucy Jakub, one of the 36 college students who participated in the Library of Congress 2015 Junior Fellows Summer Intern Program. Jakub is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in creative nonfiction at Columbia University. Her independent work in graphic design led her to her internship with the Library’s Conservation Division, making […]

The Wandering Sculpture of a Thirsty POEt: A Look into Copyright Archives

The following is a post written by Gina Apone, one of 36 college students who spent the last two months working at the Library as part of the 2015 Junior Fellows Summer Intern Program. Apone currently attends Michigan State University pursuing a dual degree in Pre-Law and Professional Writing with a minor in Public Relations. […]

Pics of the Week: Step Right Up, Folks!

Today we bring you a trio of images from this week’s display of items found in the Library’s collections by our Library of Congress Junior Fellows–36 interns from around the nation who dig through our collections during their 10-week stays and showcase their findings at summer’s end. Chosen each year through a competitive program, the […]

The Art of Acquisition

(The following is a feature story in the July/August 2015 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. The story was written by Jennifer Gavin, a senior public affairs specialist in the Office of Communications. Joseph Puccio, the Library’s collection development officer, contributed to this story. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) The […]

Page From the Past: A Show About Nothing

When “The Seinfeld Chronicles” first aired on NBC on July 5, 1989, no one could have predicted that the “show about nothing” would become a cultural phenomenon. Inspired by real-life people and events, the show followed the life of a stand-up comedian and his friends. The pilot episode (pictured left), written by show creators Jerry […]

Happy 215th Anniversary Library of Congress!

A Message from the Librarian Today, on the Library of Congress’s 215th anniversary, I want especially to congratulate the Library’s extraordinary staff for their work in building this amazing, one-of-a-kind institution. I am, and always will be, deeply grateful for all they do. The heart and soul of this great library always has been its […]

A-B-C … Easy as One, Two, Three

On Oct. 16, 1758, Noah Webster, the “Father of American Scholarship and Education” was born. Lexicographers everywhere celebrate his contributions on his birthday, also known as “Dictionary Day.” As a young, rural Connecticut teacher, he used his own money to publish his first speller in 1783. Reissued throughout the 19th century, the 1829 “Blue Back […]

Mark Twain & Copyright

(The following is an article written by Harry Katz in the September-October 2014 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. Katz is a former curator in the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division and author of a new Library publication, “Mark Twain’s America.”)  Samuel Clemens’ fight for the intellectual property rights to Mark Twain’s works helped protect […]