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.
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 […]
The following is a guest post by Library of Congress Information Technology Specialist Michelle Rago: Library experts involved in making the papers of Rosa Parks available online will answer your questions in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) session beginning at 9 a.m. (ET) on March 29, 2016. Join us on the AskHistorians subreddit. The collection contains […]
(March Madness is right around the corner, and the Library of Congress has an interesting connection to basketball’s invention. The following is a story written by Mark Hartsell for the Gazette, the Library’s staff newsletter.) Basketball, unique among major sports, has a clear creation story: We know when, where, why and how the game was invented, […]
In February, the Library added a host of resources to its offerings, both onsite and online. Early February, the Library debuted a new exhibition on “Jazz Singers,” which offers perspectives on the art of vocal jazz, featuring singers and song stylists from the 1920s to the present. The ArtsBeat blog of the New York Times called […]
Just as life is a motive force, so can a book be a motivating force in the lives of readers. Author Harper Lee’s long life has ended, but the book for which she is best known, “To Kill A Mockingbird,” was for untold numbers of people all over the world their “book of a lifetime,” […]
(The following is featured in the January/February 2016 issue of the Library of Congress Magazine, LCM. You can read the issue in its entirety here.) Nearly 1.6 million people came to the Library of Congress in 2015 to conduct research in its 21 reading rooms on Capitol Hill. More than 60 million users visited the […]
(The following is a guest post written by Anchi Hoh, a program specialist in the African and Middle Eastern Division.) If you read last month’s Christmas-related blog post “An Armenian ‘Three Magi’ at the Library of Congress” by Levon Avdoyan, you may be wondering how the Library’s African and Middle Eastern Division acquired some of […]
(The following is a guest post by Anchi Hoh, program specialist in the African and Middle Eastern Division.) The Library of Congress’s African and Middle Eastern Division recently added to its treasure trove a very important 15th century Arabic manuscript on astronomy and mathematics. “Tahrir al-Majisti” (“Commentary on the Almagest”), by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi, is […]
A camel walked into Mount Vernon … sounds like the beginning of a rather offbeat joke. However, such is not the case. On Dec. 29, 1787, our nation’s soon-to-be first president, at home on his estate in Alexandria, Virginia, played host to a rather exotic animal for the holidays. I first heard this story from […]