Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer
The Fondation Martin Bodmer is one of the most important private libraries in the world. It seeks to reflect the “adventure of the human spirit” since the beginning of writing; in this it follows the example of its founder Martin Bodmer, who sought to set up a “library of world literature.” The collection comprises about 160,000 items, hundreds of Western and Eastern manuscripts, Egyptian Books of the Dead, 270 incunabula including a rare exemplar of the Gutenberg Bible, autographs by Goethe, Einstein and Mozart...
Following enlightenment philosophers, liberal thinkers - which include Mill - considered freedom of speech a fundamental human right. In this small autograph, with embossed monogram "JSM", consisting of three folios intended for dispatch, the philosopher copies a passage of his famous "On Liberty" from 1869, taken from chapter II: "Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion." Mill emphasizes that humankind no more has the right to silence a single opinion than it has the right to silence all of humankind, if it had the power to do so. Before it became the property of Martin Bodmer, this letter had been purchased by the author Stefan Zweig in 1923.
Online Since: 06/22/2017
During his exile on St. Helena, Napoleon (1769-1821) availed himself of a library of 3,000 books — a poor remedy for boredom. Nevertheless, the deposed emperor found pleasure in reading and annotating ancient and modern classics. As a theater enthusiast, he read aloud Voltaire’s La Mort de César to his entourage several times. He decided to write his own play on the same subject; this manuscript in Napoleon’s own handwriting presents a quick sketch of the first two scenes. On page 3, tired of his subject, the emperor covers the page with strategic and military calculations, having frigates engage with regiments and artillery.
Online Since: 12/17/2015
This autograph by Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) contains a fragment of a poem. Written on the recto side of a page are three sections numbered with Roman numerals from II to IV and, with the exception of the last one (IV), titled. Although the text is written in prose, the designation “sonnet” (II) could be due to the form of the excerpt in question, which is presented in 14 lines. The first section contains the sign +, which is difficult to interpret and which gives the impression that Rimbaud had planned to rework it. The numbering suggests that these three sections form a homogeneous whole together with the section Dimanche (I, BNF manuscript), thus constituting the poem Jeunesse. One can see inscriptions by other hands from after 1886: the annotation Illuminations in the upper left corner deliberately refers to the collection of poems with that same title, which was originally published in 1886. The poem Jeunesse, which consists of four stanzas, was first published by Vanier in 1895, after the Poésies complètes, as a complement to the Illuminations.
Online Since: 09/26/2017
The Lettres écrites de la montagne are the last work that was published during Rousseau’s lifetime. For the first time, the philosopher becomes directly involved in the affairs of Geneva. Beyond fundamental proposals, the letters contain further developed thoughts on the spirit of the Reformation as well as a defense of the Contrat Social. Letter VII, where this page comes from, supports the right of representation when it comes to correcting abuses of the Small Council, and it recommends that citizens convened in the General Council reject all new elections of magistrates if these should insist upon overstepping the rights given them by the Constitution. The Lettres were censored in Geneva as well as in Paris. This document is from the collection of Ch. Vellay (purchased by Martin Bodmer in 1926) and contains a draft of two passages from the Lettres. The first of these was published in the original edition (Amsterdam, M. M. Rey, 1764), the second in the edition of the Œuvres complètes of the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade.
Online Since: 06/22/2017
The Mémoire présenté à M. de Mably sur l’éducation de M. son fils is Rousseau’s first writing related to his experience as an educator. In 1740 he took up a difficult position as tutor in the family of the notable Jean Bonnot de Mably, provost general of police in the Lyon region. This position came to an end after only one year. Two young children with little inclination to study had been entrusted to his care: François-Paul-Marie Bonnot de Mably, called Monsieur de Sainte-Marie, five and a half years old, and Jean-Antoine Bonnot de Mably, called Monsieur de Condillac, four and a half years old. The long Mémoire, dedicated to the older boy, emphasizes the “educational mission” and experience with practical education: it is presented as a plan and a synthesis; its writing has been dated around December 1740. The young tutor addresses M. de Mably and makes known to him the plan and structure for the education of his son in order to shape “the heart, the judgment and the spirit.” This is not the natural education, which later on will be advocated in ’Émile. Did Rousseau really present this Mémoire to M. de Mably? Known is only that he gave this manuscript of the Mémoire to Mme Dupin, his employer in 1743, and that since then it has been kept with the “Papers of Mme Dupin.” It was published for the first time in Paris in 1884 by G. de Villeneuve-Guibert in Le portefeuille de Madame Dupin. The Fondation Bodmer’s manuscript is the only one in existence. A Projet d’éducation, much shorter, more clearly structured and of unknown date, was found among Rousseau’s papers at the time of his death (this manuscript, now lost, was first published in Geneva in 1782). It is very similar to the Mémoire and seems to have been written
Online Since: 06/23/2016
This "paperolle" from the famous "Code Gonzague" (held in the Biblioteca Ariostea of Ferrara) is a working copy for a passage that was added to Tasso’s great work, completed the previous year. The poet had submitted his original work to various humanists and high-ranking scholars, and he took into consideration certain critiques and suggestions when editing his verses during the summer of 1576. Several stanzas were profoundly revised or even completely rewritten. Stanza 42 was one of the most reworked, to the point that Tasso had to paste this small strip of paper with the definitive version of the text into the manuscript. The text describes the attitude and thoughts of the Muslim princess Armide, who gets ready to harangue the caliph and his armies and incite them to fight to the death with the crusaders and thus to take revenge on the Christian hero Rinaldo, who had abandoned her.
Online Since: 06/22/2017
Felix Lope de Vega y Carpio (1562-1635), author of many comedias de santos, finished this Historia de Barlán y Josafat, comedia in three acts and in verse at home „En Madrid a primero de febrero de 1611.“ This complete manuscript contains numerous corrections and revisions by the author. This story of a conversion is more than an authentic Christian legend (then attributed to Saint John of Damascus) — it is above all a Christianized story. In the prince, who first gives up his palace in order to learn about the plagues of the world and then leaves his throne for the meditative life of an ascetic, one certainly recognizes Buddha. The edifying Christian story, set at the banks of the Ganges, is nothing other than an adaptation of Vie du Bodhisattva, a 2nd-4th century Sanskrit text, which over centuries was translated and adapted first by the Manichaeans, then by the Arabs, Georgians and Byzantines, until it finally reached the far distant people of the Western World: Lope de Vega’s work thus (without the author’s having been aware of this) is part of one of the most impressive chains of intellectual transmission in history.
Online Since: 12/17/2015