Our autumn lecture series opens on Tuesday 24th September with a talk by Dr Christopher Moriarty on "The Liffey: legends, literature and landscape".
Christopher Moriarty was literally immersed in the River Liffey when he fell into its waters at the age of three! Somewhat later he obtained a Master's degree for a study of the fishes of the Blessington Lakes, and later contributed some chapters to The Book of the Liffey, edited by Elizabeth Healy and published by Wolfhound Press.
He has been writing articles and books on Irish heritage topics for nearly fifty years, including a regular article in The Sacred Heart Messenger since 1993. Other books include Down the Dodder, On Foot in Dublin and Wicklow, and Exloring Dublin. Christopher is writing a new book about the Liffey which he hopes will be published in 2014.
All are welcome to the talk, which begins at 6.30pm.
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Friday, September 6, 2013
|"Nouveau Choix des Lettres de Madame de Sévigné" (1846)|
The library holds several editions of Madame de Sévigné's letters, both in the original French and in English translation. The image shows the frontispiece (a portrait of the author), and title page of a selection of the letters intended for use in schools, and published in Tours in 1846. At the other end of the editorial spectrum, we hold a six-volume edition published in Paris in 1843, with notes and commentary.
|"Letters from the Marchioness De Sévigné to her Daughter"|
There are also some key essays about Madame de Sévigné included as prefaces to both French and English editions. A selection from the correspondence published by Garnier Frères in Paris in 1886 has an essay by the critic Sainte-Beuve. And Somerset Maugham writes the introduction to a selection translated by Violet Hamersley and published in London in 1955.
Friday, August 23, 2013
|"In that part of the book of my memory..."|
The illustration shows the opening page of Dante's Vita Nuova or New Life, a collection of poems with prose introductions in which the poet explores his love for Beatrice Portinari, and the new life which began when he first saw her. This edition is part of the Central Catholic Library's Dante collection, and was published in London by the Chiswick Press in 1892. Our collection includes a number of editions of Dante's works in both Italian and English versions, as well as criticism and commentary ranging from the nineteenth to the present century.
Dante begins the Vita Nuova with an explanation; in the book of his memory he has found a page of written words under the heading "Here begins the New Life". He now intends to create a real book out of all these words. He wants to perpetuate the words so that the extract from the book of his memory relating his love for Beatrice is incarnate in paper and ink. The book of memory contains the text to be written. The writer becomes the scribe who will copy it.
In a related way, Proust, in his novel In Search of Lost Time, speaks of the "livre intérieur", the book within the mind. He says that the writer's task is to translate the "unknown signs" of this book. Proust conceives of a book generated by and held in the writer's consciousness; a book which will cross a membrane between worlds, becoming substantial on the writer's desk.
The concept of memory as a book, enduring across six centuries to link Proust back to Dante, shows how deeply wedded literary culture has been to the medium of the physical, individually bound book, the livre-objet. It's as if we have been thinking in books; as if they express for us not just what we think, but how we think as well.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
|"The World of Imagery" by Stephen J. Brown, with a dedication to the author's father.|
Brown published his first article about the library in the Irish Jesuit review Studies in 1922. He stated his intention that there would be "few departments of human interest that would be unrepresented", and he listed the subject areas which the collection would include, and on which his classification scheme would be based. Section 26 in his scheme is assigned to Belles Lettres, comprising fiction, poetry, essays and plays.
And so the Central Catholic Library has substantial holdings in English, Irish, French, Spanish, Italian and German literature, as well as books from linguistic traditions such as Breton. Over the summer, I hope to present examples from these holdings on the blog.
But how did Stephen Brown arrive at the inclusion of literature whose primary aims are aesthetic, within a collection whose primary aim was religious? One possible answer can be found in a study called The World of Imagery, which Brown was working on in the early years of the library's existence, and which he published in 1927.
In this book he sets out to explore visually descriptive or figurative language, "to map it out, to trace its main features". It might be thought that the sole focus of his exploration would be imaginative literature, especially poetry and literary prose, and of course he gives a lot of attention to both. For instance, in his discussion of images in which aspects of the natural world, such as the sun, are personified and given human qualities, he cites Shakespeare's Richard II, where Henry Bolingbroke, besieging Richard at Flint castle, says: "See, see, King Richard doth himself appear / As doth the blushing discontented sun, / From out the fiery portal of the East, / When he perceives the envious clouds are bent / to dim his glory".
But the interesting thing is that for Brown, to map imagery is to map culture as a whole. He writes that imagery "has significance for Language, Literature, and Art" but also for "the domain of thought", including theology and philosophy. The human capacity to make images seems to have formed, for Brown, a kind of substratum uniting all the various aspects of cultural endeavor. The accommodation of the aesthetically motivated work is guaranteed in his scheme by a cultural phenomenon, imagery, which is also a feature of sacred scripture, of theology, of christology, and so on.
Brown's planning of the library, together with the classification scheme he wrote for it, (including section 26), represent a cultural philosophy still evident in his library's collections over ninety years later.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
|Frederick Lucas, founder of The Tablet|
Currently a researcher with the Royal Irish Academy's Dictionary of Irish Biography, Patrick Maume has published on many aspects of Irish political and literary history. His books include studies of Daniel Corkery, Margaret Cusack (the "nun of Kenmare"), and John Sarsfield Casey. In The Long Gestation, he analyses Irish nationalist political culture in the period from 1900 to 1918. Patrick Maume has also published on media history in Ireland, including the histories of the Irish Independent and the Dublin Evening Mail.
Patrick's current projects include research into the role of Frederick Lucas and the Tablet in Irish affairs in the 1840's and 1850's.
His lecture will take place in the library at 6.30pm on Tuesday 23rd April.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
|Dr. Don O'Leary|
Our speaker will be Dr. Don O'Leary, and his topic will be the relationship between Roman Catholicism and the world of science. Are these two worlds necessarily in conflict, or is their relationship better understood as one of rich complexity?
Dr. O'Leary is a Senior Technical Officer in the Department of Anatomy and Neuroscience at University College Cork. He has extensive experience in biomedical research using transmission electron microscopy. He is a historian and the author of a number of books, including Roman Catholicism and Modern Science : a history (New York and London: Continuum, 2006) and Irish Catholicism and Science: from "Godless Colleges" to the "Celtic Tiger" (Cork: Cork University Press, 2012).