Modern European Books and Manuscripts

The Collection of Modern European Books and Manuscripts consists of printed and archival material, photographs, artwork, audio-visual, ephemeral, and production material documenting the history, philosophy, literature, arts, and social movements of Continental Europe since 1800. Particular strengths of the collection include architecture and city planning; colonial encounters, particularly in northern and eastern Africa; experimental poetry; graphic design; historical and postwar avant-gardes; history of the book and printing; literatures of France, Germany, Italy, Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Soviet Union; protest literature and counterculture; social thought and cultural criticism.

Nineteenth-Century History and Philosophy

The Yale Tocqueville Manuscripts constitute a core collection documenting European political philosophy, social thought, and revolutionary politics of the early nineteenth century. Including notebooks, diaries, sketchbooks, notes, drafts, and a voluminous correspondence between Alexis de Tocqueville and Gustave de Beaumont, the collection spans the entire period of Tocqueville’s life (1803–59), with the bulk of it concentrated around the journey of Tocqueville and Beaumont to America (1831–32) and its productive aftermath—the creative process that culminated in Tocqueville’s De la démocratie en Amérique, Beaumont’s Marie, ou l’esclavage, and the jointly authored Du système pénitentiare aux États-Unis. For the period prior to the journey, holdings include extensive correspondence of the Tocqueville and Beaumont families, material relating to the revolution of 1830 (including an untitled forty-page manuscript by Beaumont), as well as background material on the mission to study prisons in America. Letters and reports to the French government, diaries, notebooks, and correspondence between Tocqueville and Beaumont, as well as letters written in America by both to third parties in Europe, are present in the form of holograph originals and copies by contemporary and later copyists as well as typed transcriptions and photocopies of material held at other institutions. A substantial collection of Tocqueville’s research materials—including lists of works he consulted, critical feedback from contemporaries, packets of notes, critiques, and correspondence—document the evolution of his thinking in the 1830s, crowned by a near-complete working draft of De la démocratie, which varies substantially from the published version and offers significant insight into Tocqueville’s methods of composition. For Beaumont, the collection likewise contains substantial material on the writing of Marie, including notes and manuscripts for nine of the novel’s seventeen chapters, and of L’Irland, as well as notes for revising Du système pénitentiaire. Complementing the Yale Tocqueville Manuscripts are notebooks, family archives, sketchbooks, and significant caches of correspondence with politicians and friends in the United States (including John Quincy Adams, Jared Sparks, William H. Prescott, George Bancroft, George and Charles Sumner), in Great Britain (particularly with the political economist and reformer William Nassau Senior), and in France (a poignant correspondence with the liberal politician Jules Dufaure, which records Tocqueville’s response to the revolution of 1848, his dismal reflections on French politics after the coup of 1851, and reflections on his career and failing health in the final years of his life).

The history of radical politics and social thought leading up to the revolutions of 1848 is well documented in the Beinecke Library’s collections, with particular strengths in the works of Henri Compte de Saint-Simon and the Saint-Simonian movement in France, complemented by a collection of original posters mounted during the revolution in Paris. Germany is well represented, with strong collections of the authors of Junges Deutschland, Heinrich Heine, and the Young Hegelians, including Karl Marx. The Beinecke Library also has near-complete holdings of first and later editions of the philosophers Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. The library boasts impressive holdings of the Italian poet and philosopher Giacomo Leopardi alongside many other writers of the period leading up to the Risorgimento, nearly all of them from the legendary collection of Renzo Bonfiglioli, acquired by the library in the late 1970s.

Nineteenth-Century Literature and the Arts

Spanning the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the William A. Speck Collection of Goetheana is a cornerstone of the Beinecke Library’s holdings of nineteenth-century European literature. In addition to offering virtual bibliographic completeness in German editions of Goethe’s works published during his lifetime, the collection includes vast holdings of translations, with a particular emphasis on British and American reception of Goethe’s works (particularly noteworthy in this regard are manuscript poems and correspondence with Carlyle as well as a manuscript of Coleridge’s translation of the poem “Mignons Lied,” as well as the papers of Alice Raphael, American translator of Faust). Manuscripts, artwork, illustrations, musical compositions, theatrical productions, puppet plays, and a vast collection of ephemera fill out this collection, which is further complemented by the papers of William Speck and Carl Schreiber, who succeeded Speck as the curator of the collection. The library contains strong holdings of the German Romantics, including Novalis, Tieck, Fichte, Hölderlin, Clemens Brentano, and E.T.A. Hofmann, as well as the writers of Junges Deutschland and Heine. With the exception of the works of Gerhard Hauptmann, Beinecke Library’s holdings are not particularly strong for the Naturalist period, picking up again in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with excellent print holdings of German and Austrian Symbolists such as Frank Wedekind, Lou-Andreas Salomé, Rainer Maria Rilke, Stefan George, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Arthur Schnitzler, Paul Scheerbart, and others. The manuscript correspondence of Schnitzler and Hofmannsthal with Richard Beer-Hofman is of particular noteworthiness.

French literature is well represented across the nineteenth century, with strong print holdings from the French Romantic and Realist writers Alfred de Vigny, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas père et fils, Stendhal, and Balzac to Symbolist and Naturalist writers such as Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Lautréamont, and Zola. The Frank Altschul Collection of French Illustrated Books features work by many of the most famous illustrators of the period, including rare volumes by J.J. Grandville, Gustave Doré, Jules Chéret, Albert Robida, and Paul Gavarni. The same artists are also represented in a unique collection of more than 140 posters that were mounted in Parisian bookshops to advertise books and serial publications. Spanning the entire nineteenth century, these posters open a window onto dissemination of popular literature as well as the evolution of print technologies from woodblock cuts and typesetting to elaborate chromolithography. Complementing these are rare illustrated literary and artistic magazines of the nineteenth century such as Caricature, Chat noir, and Le livre d’art, the last of which first published early versions of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi in serial form. Also noteworthy are archival holdings from the family of George Sand and her circle, including the notebooks, correspondence, travel accounts, unpublished novels, and scripts for puppet plays performed at the family estate in Nouant, all to be found in the papers of Solange Clésinger-Sand, Maurice Sand, and Edmond Plauchut. The Beinecke Library holds the papers of poet and novelist Louisa Siefert, a close acquaintance of Rimbaud and the Parnassians, as well as an archive of over 11,000 letters sent to Camille Doucet, General Director of Theater under Napoleon III and later “Perpetual Secretary” of the Académie Française until his death in 1893. Correspondents include Théodore de Banville, Sarah Bernhardt, Hector Berlioz, Alexandre Dumas père, Théophile Gautier, Jacques Offenbach, George Sand, Émile Zola, and thousands of others, providing a rich portrait of life in the literary and artistic salons of nineteenth-century Paris.

Other areas of strength in nineteenth-century literature include pre-Risorgimento Italy, particularly first editions of Leopardi, Ugo Foscolo, Vincenzo Monti, and Vittorio Alfieri from the collection of Renzo Bonfiglioli. Russian literature is also well represented, from the first and second editions of Alexander Pushkin’s first book, Ruslan i Ludmila, through strong print collections of Nikolai Gogol, A.K. Tolstoy, Ivan Turgenev, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Anton Chekhov, and other classic authors of the Golden Age.

Architecture and the applied arts of nineteenth-century Europe are well documented, most notably in the Alfred Heller Collection of World’s Fairs, which includes hefty government reports, large-scale plans, illustrated albums, photographs, periodicals, and ephemera from the Expositions universelles of Paris of 1867, 1889, 1900, and 1937, to which the library has added catalogues of the first industrial fairs dating back to the French Revolution. The Heller Collection includes material on many other exhibitions across Europe and is an excellent resource for mapping the impact of the fairs on the urban landscapes of the host cities. Illustrated guides to architecture and historical monuments are another strength, particularly for early nineteenth-century Italy and throughout the nineteenth century in Paris, for which the Beinecke Library’s holdings include maps produced by city planning offices alongside unofficial guides to the art, museums, social life, and underworld of the city, as well as a large collection documenting the construction of the Paris Metro.

Colonial Encounters

Inextricably connected to the history and culture of Continental Europe are encounters with non-European cultures fueled by schemes for imperialist expansion in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The Beinecke Library continues to expand its holdings of printed and manuscript material relating to developments in the French West Indies, but the core strength of the Modern European Collection lies in documenting encounters with Islam in the Middle East and northern and eastern Africa. The Father Carney Gavin Collection of Early Middle-Eastern Photography contains twenty albumen prints of Mecca and Medina taken by an anonymous Egyptian army engineer in the 1860s, approximately 1,000 albumen prints of markets, street scenes, mosques, temples, cemeteries, and the peoples of Egypt, Syria, and Palestine, mostly dating from the 1870s and 1880s. Rare illustrated print volumes from the 1860s and 1870s are also present, alongside sixteen boxes of magic lantern slides, stereographs, cartes de visite, and six reels of film shot in Egypt and Palestine in the 1920s. Focusing on the Arab-controlled region of East Africa once known as the Zenj Empire, the Land of Zenj Collection consists of twenty-six boxes of photographs, photograph albums, glass lantern slides, and a lantern projector, which document the Sultanate of Zanzibar and European colonial expansion in East and Central Africa from 1870 to 1914, and early Arab and Portuguese coastal settlements at Kilwa, Mafia, Pemba, Sofala, and Zanzibar.

The collection is particularly rich as a resource for studying interactions between indigenous cultures and European colonial powers; urban development in Daar es Salaam, including transit and infrastructure construction inland, and missionary activity; as well as competition and conflict among Portuguese, German, and British forces during this period. Assembled by Humphrey Winterton, the Cape to Cairo Collection complements these holdings with additional documentation of colonial East Africa by major photographers represented in the Land of Zenj Collection (Carl Vincenti, Walther Döbbertin, and others), and expands their scope geographically and chronologically. The collection documents the notorious suppression of the “Herero Uprising” in German Southwest Africa, for instance, as well as colonial encounters and conflicts in Central Africa, Senegal, Egypt, and Sudan from the 1870s through the 1930s. Northern Africa is represented by thousands of photographs, photo albums, propaganda posters, trading cards, and ephemera documenting colonial projects and imperial conflicts, with a particular focus on Italian interventions in Libya, Ethiopia, and Somalia from the late nineteenth century onward and the French presence in Algeria during the war of independence. Finally, the Marc Allegret Papers contain extensive documentation of the filmmaker’s trip with André Gide to Central Africa for the filming of Voyage au Congo in 1927.

Twentieth-Century History and Philosophy

The colonial encounters and conflicts covered in the previous section take us well into the Beinecke Library’s holdings on the history of Continental Europe in the twentieth century, which also document the Russian revolutions of 1905 and 1917; the First and Second World Wars, the rise of fascism; the Holocaust; and the Cold War. Much of this documentation takes the form of European literary and artistic expression.

The Romanov Collection is a rich resource on the everyday life of the Russian imperial family in the final years of the Empire and during their captivity after the Bolshevik Revolution, including letters written by family members to former court confidante Anna Vyrubova and her friend Lili Dehn up to within months of their execution by revolutionaries at Ekaterinburg on July 16–17, 1918. Alongside the correspondence are six albums containing thousands of photographs, many taken by Vyrubova herself as she accompanied the family to their summer home in the Crimea, on trips to the Baltic, Siberia, and Germany, and at official functions such as parades, state visits, and Empress Maria Alexandrovna tending to wounded soldiers during the First World War. The library’s large and growing collection of satirical magazines that flourished when censorship briefly collapsed during the Revolution of 1905 sheds light on the history of the Russian revolution. Heavily illustrated, often by leading figures of the Mir Iskusstva movement, more than 300 journals sprouted up in this short period, of which the Beinecke Library has complete runs and scattered holdings of some forty-five titles. Also worth highlighting are several complete sets of ROSTA posters produced by Vladimir Mayakovsky and other avant-garde artists to promote the Bolshevik cause during the revolution and the civil war that followed. Designed to be displayed in the windows of telegraph stations, the posters were just one of many artistic attempts to reach the masses with political messages couched in vivid graphics and poetic rhythms. Propaganda posters by Alexandr Rodchenko, elaborately executed volumes celebrating the five-year plans by Lissitzky, and many other examples of political engagement in the early Soviet Union are to be found in the library’s strong holdings of Suprematism and Constructivism.

Closely entwined with the turbulent political history of Continental Europe in the twentieth century, are the developments in European philosophy and social and political thought. Extensive print holdings on Marxist-Leninism and anarchism, Walter Benjamin, the Frankfurt School, and French Existentialism are complemented by archival holdings in European philosophy. The Ernst Cassirer Papers, for example, include notes and multiple drafts of Das Erkenntnisproblem in der Philosophie and Philosophie der symbolischen Formen alongside notes and drafts of essays and lectures, including Cassirer’s historic confrontation with Martin Heidegger at Davos in 1929; college notebooks with Cassirer’s notes on classes taken with Paul Natorp and Hermann Cohen; and correspondence, including letters from Albert Einstein, Edmund Husserl, Erwin Panofsky, and Albert Schweitzer. Another highlight of the twentieth-century archival holdings is the Alfred Schütz Papers, which document Schütz’s confrontation with the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl through extensive manuscript drafts of major works and essays, many written after Schütz joined the New School for Social Research after fleeing Europe on the eve of the Second World War. The papers also contain correspondence with leading philosophers and political thinkers such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Raymond Aron, Jean Hyppolite, Karl Löwith, and Karl Popper.

French existentialism is well represented with a collection of manuscripts by Jean-Paul Sartre, unpublished work by Simone de Beauvoir, whose correspondence with Claude Lanzmann is also held at the Beinecke Library, and the working manuscript of Albert Camus’s Le Mythe de Sisyphe. Camus is among the correspondents in the Nicola Chiaromonte Papers, a rich resource on European social and political thought in response to the rise of fascism, the Spanish Civil War, the Holocaust, and the Cold War. Italian philosophy is also represented in the Giorgio Agamben Papers, which document the development of Agamben’s moral and aesthetic philosophy through multiple drafts of his major works since the 1970s; seminar and lecture notes for courses taught in France, Italy, and the United States; and correspondence with prominent figures such as Claude Levi-Strauss, Jacques Derrida, Toni Negri, and Guy Debord. The papers include a large cache of letters and manuscripts by Walter Benjamin, assembled by Agamben during his research as editor of Benjamin’s works in Italian translation. Alongside seventy-six autograph Benjamin letters to his childhood friend Herbert Blumenthal and his wife Carla Seligson written between 1910 and 1917 are notes and manuscripts of Benjamin’s unfinished book on Baudelaire, drafts of essays, and a schematic of his plan for drafting Berliner Kindheit.

A particular strength for social thought, cultural criticism, and political philosophy of postwar Europe is the library’s extensive print and archival holdings relating to Guy Debord and the Situationist International. Leaving its aesthetic dimensions aside for the moment, the genealogy of the Situationist critique can be traced from the Internationale Lettriste through a rare complete run of Potlatch to key theoretical texts in journals such as Les lèvres nues. Major works such as Debord’s Rapport sur les constructions des situations, Mustapha Khayati’s De la misère en milieu étudiant, Raoul Vaneigem’s Banalités de base and Traité de savoir-vivre à l’usage des jeunes générations, and Debord’s Société du spectacle are held in the collections. Central to the library’s holdings are complete runs of L’Internationale situationniste, including its German and Italian iterations; The Situationist Times; and King Mob; as well as a near-complete set of manifestos, tracts, posters, and ephemera. The Gil J. Wolman Papers contain typescript drafts of the earliest manifesto on the construction of situations, signed by Debord and dated September 1953, alongside other fragments and correspondence revealing the impact of Debord’s early collaboration with Wolman and other Lettrists in formulating central concepts of Situationist theory. Significant caches of Debord letters and manuscripts can also be found in the Mustapha Khayati Papers, which include crucial documentation on the drafting of De la misère. Other important papers include the Gianfranco Sanguinetti Papers, the Patrick Labaste Papers, and the Michèle Bernstein Papers, which contain maquettes and annotated production materials for L’internationale situationniste and several political tracts of the late 1950s. The André Bertrand and André Schneider Papers include Debord correspondence alongside thorough documentation of the Strasbourg scandal and sectarian fighting with the Garnaultins and other groups in 1966. The Raoul Vaneigem Papers are particularly rich, starting with elaborate reading notes from his student days in Brussels and drafts of his dissertation on Lautréamont, on to his early writing on strikes in Belgium, his introduction to Debord by Henri Lefèvre, through to his notes and reflections on meetings of the Situationist International and the evolution of the Traité between 1962 and 1967. The continuing influence of Situationist ideas on both sides of the Atlantic is well documented in the Ken Knabb Papers as well as in a substantial collection of post-Situ books and magazines from France and Spain.

Finally, a vast sweep of postwar cultural criticism and political philosophy from both sides of the Atlantic can be found in the Michel Foucault Library of Inscribed Copies. Containing over 1,450 volumes, the library is valuable not only for its inscriptions, which are often personal and at times visually stunning, but also for the wide range of writers and artists who sent their works to Foucault, attesting to his ubiquitous role in shaping the philosophical, political, and aesthetic landscapes of Europe and America from the early 1960s to his death in 1984. Daniel Defert, from whom the Beinecke Library acquired the collection, has rightly referred to it as a “boomerang library,” a social document without a single author yet united by a common affinity to Foucault.