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.
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.”)
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”
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.
Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. poet laureate consultant in poetry, has been appointed a second term – an appointment announced, then celebrated in the Coolidge Auditorium on Wednesday night. “What a great joy, what a great joy this is,” Herrera, the 21st laureate, told the audience. “How beautiful it is to be here. How beautiful the Library of Congress is. […]
On Wednesday, poet Allison Hedge Coke was honored as the 2016 Witter Bynner Fellow. She was selected and introduced by Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry at the Library of Congress, Juan Felipe Herrera. In his selection, Herrera said he sought to honor Hedge Coke “for her precision of Earth, of suffering in and out of […]
(The following post is by Ann Brener, Hebraic area specialist in the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division.) With its rich nature imagery and enigmatic dream-like sequences, the “Song of Songs” (also known as the “Songs of Solomon”) is surely one of the world’s great love poems and one of the most popular books in […]
(The following is a guest post by William Kellum, manager in the Library’s Web Services Division.) This is the first post in a new monthly series highlighting new collections, items and presentations on the Library’s website. After checking out the items mentioned here, be sure to visit some of our other blogs that highlight our […]
In September, the Library of Congress had some big headlines – from the announcements of new collections to celebrating the 15th annual National Book Festival and the inaugural reading of the new poet laureate. The Library received a very special visitor and a very special book to add to its collections last month. During his […]
To read a poem is a quiet joy. To read some authors’ prose is as wonderful as reading a poem. It’s just the poet, or the writer, and you. Right there, in black and white. What could be better? How about hearing it “in color” as a poet or author reads to you from his […]
The following post, written by Peter Armenti, was originally published on the blog From the Catbird Seat: Poetry & Literature at the Library of Congress. In 2001, the then U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins launched the online poetry project Poetry 180 as a way to introduce American high school students to contemporary poetry. Poetry 180 quickly […]
The nation and the world are mourning the passing of civil-rights activist Julian Bond, who died on Saturday in Florida at age 75. Brought up in an intellectual family, he was a skinny, witty, articulate young man when he helped found the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, or SNCC, in 1960, traveling around the south to […]
For more than a decade, the Library of Congress has been pleased to participate in an internship program sponsored by the Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities, or HACU. Talented young students work paid, 15-week internships with various Library divisions, getting a hands-on view of the options here and helping us get the work done […]