A RISD graduate student recently requested Clavis Campanalogia, an 18th century treatise on the fine art of bell ringing, or more specifically “change ringing.” Originally invented by drunken youths, change ringing was to become a social craze in 17th century England. The hand-colored engraving is tipped into the Athenaeum’s copy of Clavis Campanalogia and depicts 6 bell ringers engaged in the popular recreation. The caption under the print reads, “The Blue Bells of Ireland goes well boys well, And the Clapper Strike on e’ry side ding dong Bell.”
Clavis Campanalogia, or, A Key to the Art of Ringing, by William Jones, John Reeves & Thomas Blakemore. London: Printed by William Browne & John Warren, 1788.
Campanology is the study of bells including the art of bell ringing, and typically refers to large bells hung in church towers. Clavis Campanalogia depicts the technique of a specific form of bell ringing that is known as “change ringing.” Change ringing is defined as the art of ringing a set of tuned church bells in a series of mathematical orders called “changes,” and each bell requires a single person to operated it, as depicted in the image above. The sound produced by ringing multiple bells in rounds, one bell and one strike at a time utilizing strict orders of sequencing, produces an unconventional melody that is commonly associated with wedding peals.
Discovered by Emily Winter, MFA candidate, Textiles, RISD : “I am looking at the patterns of movement and rule structures in change ringing, and using those to help me think through different methods of visualizing sequential movement and constrained systems in textiles.”
For additional information about change ringing read: Campanologomania, Cabinet Magazine, Spring 2014.
To make your own discoveries in the Special Collections consult the online catalog, peruse the card catalog at the library, or contact Kate Wodehouse, Collections Librarian, for additional information.
The latest installment of staff picks celebrates some classics of modern Indian fiction. It features some well-known authors such as Salman Rushdie and Amitav Ghosh alongside some lesser-known titles such as Freedom Song by Amit Chaudhuri and English, August by Upamanyu Chatterjee. The selection brings to life some of India’s many landscapes and cultures and its rich social and political history, often through intimate portraits of family and community life.
You can explore the imaginary town of Malgudi and become acquainted with its colorful residents, including a venerable tiger named Raja, in three enchanting works by R. K. Narayan. You can travel to 1970s Bombay and follow the challenges faced by Gustad Noble, a devoted family man whose life begins to unravel as he becomes embroiled in the corruption of the Indira Gandhi years in Such a Long Journey. You can also be transported to the foothills of the Himalayas, and follow the lives of a retired judge and his granddaughter who become targets of Nepalese insurgents fighting for independence, in The Inheritance of Loss.
Alternatively, if you prefer something more surreal, learn of the misadventures of Alu, a young master weaver from a small Bengali village who is falsely accused of terrorism in The Circle of Reason. Or travel from India to Spain with Moraes Zogoiby, the last surviving scion of a dynasty of Cochinese spice merchants and crime lords in Salman Rushdie’s family saga, The Moor’s Last Sigh.
There are many more titles besides. Each reveals something of the essence of India, past and present, and also something of the human experience. So whatever your tastes, dip in, try some Indian fiction today.
English, August: An Indian Story – Upamanyu Chatterjee
Freedom Song – Amit Chaudhuri
The House of Blue Mangoes – David Davidar
The Artist of Disappearance: Three Novellas – Anita Desai
The Inheritance of Loss – Kiran Desai
The Circle of Reason – Amitav Ghosh
The Hungry Tide – Amitav Ghosh
A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
Such a Long Journey – Rohinton Mistry
Malgudi Days – R. K. Narayan
The Printer of Malgudi – R. K. Narayan
A Tiger for Malgudi – R. K. Narayan
Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
The Moor’s Last Sigh – Salman Rushdie
Namaste to our Guest Blogger, Kirsty Dain, Circulation Assistant Extraordinaire.
Events 19th Century, Arctic Exploration, Arctic Spectacles, Arctic Theatre Royal, exhibits, Kate Wodehouse, magic lantern show, Providence Athenaeum, Russell Potter, Special Collections, Wonder Show 1:41 pm
The Providence Athenaeum is planning to explore the Victorian fascination with the Arctic. Starting with the above display from our circulating collection.
Tomorrow night, June 3rd, Rhode Island College Professor Russell Potter will present “‘Travel by Pictorial Means': Victorian Virtualities of the Arctic Regions.” Potter, author of Arctic Spectacles: The Frozen North in Visual Culture 1818-1875, will illustrate some of the ways in which Victorian audiences encountered the perils of the Arctic, seeming to accompany polar explorers via a variety of visual and mechanical contrivances, among them the Panorama, the Diorama, the Moving Panorama, and the Magic Lantern. Original engravings, handbills, and advertisements of these shows will be accompanied by images from books and lantern slides of the period, including some from the Athenaeum’s collections. The talk will conclude with a visit to one of the last, and most ambitious of polar spectacles, Carl Hagenbeck’s Eismeer- Panorama of 1896, which featured live polar bears and seals, with predator and prey separated by deep ditches hidden from the spectators.
Our next foray will be on June 9th when The Wonder Show presents The Arctic Theatre Royal, a magic lantern show featuring images and text sourced from the Athenaeum’s Special Collections. During the 19th century, Arctic exploration captivated the public imagination. Images of unfamiliar icescapes pictured in panoramas and magic lantern shows dominated visual culture. The Arctic –and specifically finding a northwest passage through it– was a main subject of national interest in England at the time. One of the most successful voyages of this kind was head by Captain William Parry in 1819. This would be the first British naval expedition of the 19th century to winter in arctic conditions, and its activities and precautions became a model for future expeditions. Parry instituted musical and theatrical entertainments, school classes, meteorological and magnetic observations, and even a weekly newspaper, The North Georgia Gazette and Winter Chronicle. Plays were performed every fortnight with written reviews following each act. The Wonder Show’s performance, The Arctic Theatre Royal, takes its name from Parry’s shipboard theater. In this newly written production, The Wonder Show will share original poetry and text from Parry’s voyage, utilizing a form of entertainment used to share early glimpses of the Arctic, a magic lantern show. The content comes directly from the shipboard documents of 1819, including Parry’s journal and the North Georgia Gazette, which are both housed within the Athenaeum’s Travel and Exploration Collection.
Collections Librarian, Kate Wodehouse will be mounting an exhibit in the Philbrick Rare Book Room titled: A Peep at the Arctic: Visions of Polar Exploration, 1818-1909 available for viewing from June 15th to August 31st, but more on that later. For details on the events mentioned above check our June Programs page.
Great though they are, there is more to Scandinavian literature than murder mysteries! This month’s staff picks celebrates some of Scandinavia’s best writing across a range of other genres.
The selection includes a variety of different kinds of fiction, from the great emotional depth and simple, economical prose of Per Petterson and Tarjei Vesaas to Arto Paasilinna’s tragi-comic stories of a journalist who sets off to explore Finland’s wildernesses with a hare as his sole companion and of a miller with a tendency to howl like a wolf at night and the trouble it causes. There are also some classic examples of children’s literature that are much loved by adults as well from two of Scandinavia’s best-known writers, Astrid Lindgren (of Pippi Longstocking fame) and Tove Jansson (creator of the Moomins). There is travel and adventure in Thor Heyerdahl’s extraordinary – and true – story of his attempt to cross the Pacific Ocean by raft and Franz Bengtsson’s fictional account of the expeditions and conquests of Red Orm, a Viking oarsman. And there is autobiography in the first volume of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s extraordinary My Struggle, exploring in great detail and with astonishing honesty his life, feelings and relationships, focusing in this volume on his attempt at coming to terms with the death of his father.
There is something from almost every section of the Athenaeum represented in the display so, whatever your tastes, there should be something here to interest you. And if not, there’s always another murder mystery instead…
Thanks to our guest blogger, Kirsty Dain, Circulation Assistant. She and her family are spending the summer in Norway. Reading Scandinavian literature?
There is an independent film maker, Christopher Seufert, who is raising money to bring a documentary of Edward Gorey to the Sundance Film Festival and later to PBS. Here is his Kickstarter campaign and here is the official trailer:
YouTube has an extensive list of Gorey videos including versions of the PBS Mystery! introduction.
A search of the Providence Athenaeum’s collection produced a cross section of titles; from the children’s room to poetry, to adult art and biography:
For a complete bibliography of Edward Gorey’s works (as of 2006) check out Goreyography. Titles can be viewed, with cover art, alphabetically or chronologically. For fans of Pinterest there are some eclectic boards. And if you live in the Northeast, there is the Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts.
Who doesn’t love the artist Edward Gorey?
Did you know that there has been a campaign to get all of the over four million Wikipedia pages printed into books? It’s called the Wikipedia Books Project and the promoters hoped to publish the 1000 books, display them at the Wikimania Conference in London in August 2014, and then send the volumes, as a traveling exhibit, around the world. The fundraiser, hosted by Indiegogo, has failed to reach it’s goal of $50,000. Maybe it failed because a fundamental question remained unanswered: Why? Why convert a constantly changing, essential, organic, internet entity into a static, heavy, dust collecting object? Here is their answer:
A final bit on Wikipedia is this amusing piece by Judith Newman from the New York Times: What does Judith Newman have to do to get a page?
The Guardian reported recently that J. R. R. Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf will be published this May by HarperCollins and that it will include Tolkien’s Oxford lectures on the poem from the 1930’s.
Prompted to search our catalog for copies of the “epic poem” I found that we have some interesting editions. Our oldest is A. Diedrich Wackerbarth’s 1849 edition:
Although criticized for abandoning the original meter in favor of a more readable Middle English ballad meter, it makes sense we would have this more “popular” version.
But this poem lends itself to illustration and we have a couple of fine examples. In the children’s collection we have James Rumford’s Beowulf: A Hero’s Tale and in the YA graphic novel section we have Gareth Hind’s adaptation:
Both are imaginative and the illustrations are wonderful.
Should the Athenaeum purchase the Tolkien edition? We shall see.