Thursday, 2 April 2020

Rare Books 3: The Paperwork of Canonisation

Saint Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi (1566-1607) is a household name if you are a Florentine or a Carmelite. Here is the recommendation for Pope Clement X (1590-1676) to “expedite” the process for her to be made a Catholic saint. (Rome, 1673) Notes: If a V is a U, we must still present it as a V, according to Paul Shaner Dunkin, ‘How to catalog a rare book’, 2nd edition (Chicago, 1973). Hence ‘Bvlla’ &c., though I entered ‘Bulla …’ as an added title. Lettering inconsistencies are multiple in such works and deliberately put there to annoy the cataloguer. Angeli de Paulis is not a household name, even in the global village of the internet. Here is his ‘positio’ for canonisation, proposed by Cardinal Giovanni Antonio Guadagni (1674-1759), the well-connected Carmelite powerbroker (Rome, 1739). Notes: It’s uphill becoming a saint. Not only is a ‘positio’ itself called ‘super dubio’ but this one has appended ‘responsio ad animadversiones’ from people called sub-promotors, this time Joseph Luna and Johannes Prunettus, who may have stalled (the usual term) the Venerable Servant of God Angeli de Paulis’ progress to sainthood. He is most likely to be Blessed Angelo Paoli (1642-1720), even from some internal evidence, but I cannot confirm this until I revisit the Library to delve deeper into special sources next week. Cardinal Guadagni always had several Carmelite causes on the go, though his own cause for beatification keeps stalling, most recently in the years after his name was again put forward in 1940.

An account of my visit to the Carmelite Postulator’s Office in Rome in 2011 can be found here:

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Rare Books 2: April Fool's Day

Two rare books for April Fool’s Day. An edition of the Reverend Thomas Creech’s (1659-1706) translation of Lucretius that together with Dryden’s Virgil and Pope’s Homer were the three most read classical renderings throughout the 18th century (Glasgow, 1749). Notes: The book in hand, as the phrase goes, is a cataloguing minefield. Lacking a title page, one is left completely reliant on the bookseller’s sale tab, pasted helpfully in the top left-hand corner of the inside cover, itself detached from its job. But is the tab true? “By Creech” is scratched crudely in ink, just by way of backup, with the book being renumbered in different Whitefriars, i.e. Carmelite, libraries on its journey through life. One relates to Lucretius (pictured) trying to turn his back on the whole mess, but, like Lucretius, one has to face up to the facts as given. You see, a cataloguer cannot describe a work with anything other than entire certainty. It is not permissible to say it is the 1749 version outright, the date on the tab, or even that it is De Rerum Natura, without evidence inside and outside the text. Covering notes are created to explain for the user keen on Creech just which Creech to expect. One thing is certain, it is the same edition as all the others going way back, containing extensive verse recommendations from contemporaries like Nahum Tate, Thomas Otway, Edmund Waller and the increasingly high profile Aphra Behn, herself. Time to google ‘W. Tho. Wilkinson TCD, 1910’, the name signed in different places throughout this copy of Lucretius, but no leads, in fact too many Thomas Wilkinsons that could not alas be our Thomas Wilkinson. Another nightmare is this battered copy of a set of comic stories by the Irish novelist Gerald Griffin (1803-1840) under the title ‘The Christian Physiologist and Other Tales’ (Dublin, circa 1892). Notes: Confusingly, the cover calls the book ‘The Five Senses’, a perplexity resolved outside the text by obscure sources corroborating that the two titles are interchangeable. Cataloguers are required to give priority description to the title page, if it exists, so ‘The Five Senses’ co-title goes in an added entry, with plenty of explanation in the notes field.  Griffin would have had fun at the expense of a Carmelite cataloguer of the 21st century who cannot locate firm information about this impression using all the mighty powers of his online inheritance. Reprints of the James Duffy version start at least in 1857. The only certainty is that the book must have been published in or before 1892, which we know from the St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic School Port Melbourne prize plate pasted inside the cover, awarded Christmas 1892 to Miss E. Barlow for “Excellence in rapid progress”.     

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Rare Books 1: Ursuline Donations

Rare book cataloguing is being done behind closed doors at the Library in this new world of isolation, also at home online. Here are three works from the library of the Ursuline Order, a vast donation received by the Carmelites when the sisters closed their house in Armidale, New England. A history of the order by Georg Adam Mayer (Würzburg, 1692) Notes: The book lacks a title page and colophon, so the way I ultimately found the author’s name was by locating an identical scanned record in the Bavarian State Library catalogue online. Georg Adam Mayer is probably the yet to be authorised ‘Mayer, Georg, active 16th century’ listed in Library of Congress Name Headings, i.e. no one quite knows who he is. The scan confirms that this is the one and only edition, most happily via the frontispiece depicting their patron Saint Ursula, active 4th century. A life of Bernard Overberg, by Caspar Franz Krabbe (Münster, 1846) Notes: Overberg was a German Catholic educationalist whose work would have had a large influence on the Ursulines who came to Australia. The Order is dedicated to the teaching of girls, so the nuns brought with them teacher training that they could put into effect, unlike other Australian women outside the walls of convent schools. Stories of Christoph von Schmid (1768-1854), another educator but also writer of children’s books of a pietistic and edifying nature (Augsburg, 1861). Notes: Well-worn, with cover fallen off, in need of repair. The German Ursulines who helped set up in Armidale were refugees from the Kulturkampf. They transferred to their house in Greenwich, England, where decisions were made to send them to Australia. We try to imagine these German women arriving in a far foreign land, bashing through the bush to establish schools and homes, armed with breviaries, missals, Mayer, Krabbe, and Schmid.