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.

Technology at the Library: StoryCorps Goes Global

(The following is an article by Nicole Saylor of the American Folklife Center for the March/April 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) The StoryCorps oral history collection is growing through a new mobile app and website. In a matter of months last fall, […]

Library in the News: March 2016 Edition

Headlining Library of Congress news for March was the announcement of new selections to the National Recording Registry. Michael O’Sullivan of The Washington Post spoke with singer Gloria Gaynor, whose “I Will Survive” was one of the selections. “For Gaynor, the Library of Congress honor simply acknowledges what the world has already figured out,” he […]

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 […]

Good Timing for a Sliming

This year’s list of 25 noteworthy films named to the Library of Congress National Film Registry is out, and it includes some well-known favorites: “Ghostbusters,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Top Gun,” even the original Douglas Fairbanks vehicle “Zorro.”  Films are annually named to the registry that are culturally, historically or aesthetically important; the object is preservation […]

Their Own Words, in Their Own Voices

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Golden Fleecer

Who the devil was Soapy Smith? Some would say the devil was Soapy Smith. He was a swindler, a con artist, a bunco steerer. In the 1880s and ’90s he fleeced rubes from Denver to Skagway, Alaska and at many points in-between. He was dubbed “Soapy” because an early con involved selling overpriced soap by […]