Library

Showing posts with label rarebooks. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rarebooks. Show all posts

13 November 2017

Celebrating the discovery of evolution

Associate Professor Martin Burd, from the Monash School of Biological  Science, has written this article for our blog celebrating the anniversary of the publication of the seminal book,  Origin of Species.



Sexual selection of birds was further
 examined in Darwin's, Descent of Man
This November marks the 158th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species. Monash University holds a copy of the first edition volume in its Rare Books Collection, a true treasure from the history of human thought. This book stands with a handful of other great scientific works like Galileo’s Starry Messenger or Newton’s Principia Mathematica as a marker of our collective effort to understand nature.

The Origin of Species famously proposed that the diversity of species we observe in the world has been derived from ancestral species, now extinct, that differed from current forms of life. This idea of the “mutability” of species had been brewing among naturalists in Europe for decades at the time Darwin published his book. He turned the somewhat ill-defined notion of mutability into a science by proposing how it could happen through natural selection, a mechanism that would act automatically as a consequence of simple and observable features of nature. A century and a half of research since publication of the Origin has abundantly confirmed its central claims. The force of natural selection on populations has been observed and measured often, and even the natural formation of new species in historical times has been documented (it doesn’t always take millions of years!). Darwin’s ideas still form a core to evolutionary biology, but, following the blossoming of genetics in the 20th century, and the revolution provided by molecular genetics in this century, we are now aware of a richness and complexity to evolution far beyond what Darwin could have known.

Biologists still read Origin of Species, but the book’s influence has extended well beyond biology and even well beyond science. Its most important consequence has been on our conception of our own place in nature. Although Darwin gave only the slimmest allusion to humankind in the book, the implication that we had an origin like that of other species, proceeding from natural causes as a part of nature, was immediately apparent to readers in 1859, and to readers since. This has not been a comfortable thought for everyone. With our civilisation now facing challenges from climate disruption, it might prove to be a thought we need to embrace all the more.

You can see Darwin’s privileged education and social origins in his command of the language in Origin of Species: it’s a good book, easily read and elegant in a Victorian way. For anyone who wants to be acquainted with the ideas of the past that have shaped our world today, it is worth dipping into, or reading entirely.



Associate Professor Martin Burd completed his PhD at Princeton University. His main area of research focus is cvolutionary ecology. As an Evolutionary Ecologist, Martin investigates life-history evolution, behaviour, and reproduction in a variety of plants and animals. 


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2 August 2017

Annotations and illustrations delight collectors

Inscriptions in children's books of the past can be of interest to both scholars and collectors, writes librarian Mia Goodwin.

Sometimes books inscribed by ordinary people can be valuable if the inscription gives insight into the context of the book’s history, production, reception or use.

Take, for example, Monash University Library Rare Books Collection’s copy of Tippoo: A tale of a tiger, by C. W. Cole (1905). This otherwise ordinary children’s book has become extraordinary due to the intriguing annotations inscribed by a previous owner. Mary M. Daubeney gifted the book to Peggy Morton, and carefully annotated each picture with quotations from some of Thomas Moore’s Irish melodies, often to comedic effect. See example above.

This demonstrates historical use of the book itself; how the owner engaged with it, adding textual layers and changing the book to become more playful and distinct for a gift.

Often, an ordinary book becomes especially unique, and therefore ‘rare’, if it was owned by someone famous, particularly if they inscribed their name or wrote a note in the book itself. For example, the Rare Books Collection is fortunate to hold a deluxe second edition of  Stories from Hans Andersen (1912), which includes a touching inscription by Nobel prize-winning author, Sinclair Lewis (1885 – 1951), who gave the book to his parents for Christmas in 1914, as shown below.


Sinclair Lewis was an American author famous for his wit and critique of the American literary establishment. That Lewis gave Andersen’s fairy tales to his parents demonstrates an appreciation of the Danish children’s author, and thus by examining the book in its context, scholarly conclusions may be drawn about Lewis’ literary upbringing and interests that could perhaps inform discussions around Lewis’ work. This is a benefit of examining rare books in context, and demonstrates one way that students and researchers can engage with the Rare Books Collection.

Deluxe books, especially for children, were often given as Christmas gifts in the early twentieth century. This stately edition is a collection of some of Andersen’s most loved stories, including ‘The Snow Queen’ and ‘The Mermaid’. The book is bound in pictorial cloth with beautiful inlaid gilt, as shown at right:

The book includes illustrations by French artist, Edmund Dulac (1882 – 1953). Dulac’s illustrations were exhibited by Leicester Galleries, and published by Hodder & Stoughton. The illustrations are of exceptional quality and were tipped-in separately. Dulac was a leading artist in the Golden Age of Illustration, alongside others such as Arthur Rackham, W. Heath Robinson, and Kay Nielsen. These artists largely provided illustrations for children’s books, and typically experimented with colour and rendering techniques. Their efforts were very well received:

Dulac's art, however, is not of the kind that only the critic may enjoy, for it is rich with poetry and imagination, and strong in the possession of that decorative element which renders a picture universally pleasing” (Stuart, 1910)

 For lovely examples of Dulac’s work see the Snow Queen and other characters below:






To view these books and other rare items, or for research advice and discussion contact Rare Books, or come and visit us at the new Special Collections Reading Room at Matheson Library.


Andersen, Hans Christian. Stories from Hans Andersen. Illustrated by Edmund Dulac, 2nd ed., Hodder & Stoughton, 1912.

Cole, C. W., and William Ralston. Tippoo : A Tale of a Tiger. New Ed., Simpkin Marshall / Hamilton Kent & Co, 1905.

Stuart, Evelyn Marie. “Edmund Dulac—A Poet of the Brush.” Fine Arts Journal, vol. 23, no. 2, 1910, pp. 87–102. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/23905910.

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13 June 2017

Punk zines and fanzines find a new home at Monash


The world of "Punk" is making inroads into the Rare Books Collection at Monash, says librarian Daniel Wee.


Monash University Library recently acquired a small collection of important punk zines, fanzines, and magazines to add to the Rare Books Collection.

The inception of the ‘punk zine’ in the mid to late 1970’s saw it explode into the post-punk period of the 1980’s which included the new-wave and hardcore scenes. Their purpose was to provide a platform for fans to communicate with one another and circulate ideas — think of it as blogging. Research potential with these materials lies in the exploration of the non-elite and their resistance to conformity, as well as providing valuable insight into underground and D.I.Y. publishing.

The collection includes numbers 1, 2 and 11 of Punk magazine; arguably the earliest example of the genre.

Punk,  Numbers 1, 2 and 11




Founded by Legs McNeil and John Holmstrom, these were highly influential magazines designed to promote bands, commentary, and the punk rock movement. As a rather well known artist, Holmstrom illustrated several well known Ramones albums. Our bookseller has advised us that number 2 was originally in the possession of Holmstrom, however, there is no evidence of provenance in our copy. Punk magazine popularised The Ramones, The Stooges, the New York Dolls, and was influential in the CBGB NY club phenomenon.

1st Annual Punk magazine awards ceremony
This fantastic original copy of the “1st annual Punk Magazine Awards Ceremony” (below) brought huge media attention due to the recent split of the Sex Pistols and the arrest of Sid Vicious under suspicion of murder. The awards night ensued into a drunken rowdy mess, which saw Lou Reed refusing to take the stage and accept his award for Class Clown.

Nart, Number 1
Best known for contributor Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedys, Nart originated from an artist's collective that focused on punk and new wave in the Berkeley area.

Zone V and Killer magazine are important social document for the evolution of the punk movement as it transitioned into the 1980’s hardcore scene. Sonic Youth founder, Thurston Moore was a major contributor. It also includes an early Sonic Youth poster.


Zone V, Killer and poster of Sonic Youth in Killer

The final issue of Sluggo is referred to as the 'Industrial Collapse' issue, and signifies the transition from punk fanzines to aestheticism. 

Sluggo

The game of industrial collapse


If you would like to view any of the items referred to in this post, please do not hesitate contact us at rbinfo@monash.edu.


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