Bibliomania; or Book Madness: A Bibliographical Romance

Friday, January 18, 2019 to Saturday, April 20, 2019

This exhibition takes its name from the history of “arrant book-lovers” written by Thomas Frognall Dibdin. It follows these lovers of the book through four case studies, observing the powerful and often unexpected relationships of books with their readers, owners, authors, collectors, and creators.

Every Book in the World! explores the passionate collecting and printing history of the legendary nineteenth-century bibliomaniac Thomas Phillipps, whose vast collection of manuscripts and early printed books filled an English country house and required more than a century of public auctions and sales to disperse.

Collated & Perfect, organized in conjunction with the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin, traces the history of the collation statement and the obsession with finding a more perfect text, from eighteenth-century book collector Thomas Rawlinson through Charlton Hinman, editor of the first folio edition of Shakespeare’s plays (1968). 

Habits Ancient and Modern: Surface and Depth in the Pillone Library Volumes traces the history of the library assembled by Antonio and Odorico Pillone in Italy in the sixteenth century, and Odorico’s decision to have the fore-edges of many of these volumes painted by Cesare Vecellio, a distant cousin of Titian. 

The Whole Art of Marbling explores the many-faceted art of paper marbling, drawing on some of the choicest examples in the Beinecke’s collection to illuminate the art’s history, techniques, patterns, and practitioners, from its origins in the East and advancement over the Silk Road to the European continent.

The exhibition is accompanied by a series of special events throughout the semester, all free and open to the public, including:
  • Jan. 23, 5 p.m.: a panel discussion on the Pillone Library with exhibition curator Brown and Ann Rosalind Jones, the Esther Cloudman Dunn Professor Emerita and professor emerita of comparative literature at Smith College.
  • Feb. 5, 5 p.m.: a panel discussion, “Perfect: Thinking about the Ideal Copy,” with exhibition curators James and Pratt, with Peter Stallybrass, the Walter H. and Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities and professor of English and of comparative literature and literary theory at the University of Pennsylvania, and David Scott Kastan, the George M. Bodman Professor of English at Yale.
  • Feb. 6, 5 p.m:. a lecture, “The Duc de Berry (1340-1416) and the Origins of Bibliomania,” by Christopher de Hamel, author of “Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts,” followed by the exhibition opening reception at 6 p.m.
  • Feb. 7, 5 p.m.: a lecture, “Sir Thomas and I: A Poor Comparison,” by Toshiyuki Takamiya, professor emeritus, Keio University.
  • March 27, 5 p.m.: a lecture on paper marbling by Sidney Berger, former director of the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum and professor at Simmons College.
  • April 10, 5 p.m.: a lecture, “The Painted Book: Cesare Vecellio and the Pillone Library,” by Brown.

In addition, most of this semester’s “Mondays at Beinecke” gallery talks and teas, held on Mondays at 4 p.m., will feature discussions related to the exhibition.

Beinecke Library exhibitions are free and open to the public daily.