"From Aldus to Aldous," an exhibit of highlights chosen from among the many remarkable books, manuscripts and objects in the UCLA Charles E. Young Research Library's Department of Special Collections, is on view at UCLA through Sept. 5.
One of the leading collections of its kind in the country, the department houses "a wonderland of manuscripts and rare books," according to arts journalist Gail Eichenthal, who describes it as a "treasure trove."
The title "From Aldus to Aldous" refers to landmark works in the exhibit by Aldus Manutius and Aldous Huxley. The department has one of the world's most complete collections of the work of Manutius, an important Italian Renaissance printer, and his family. The exhibit features a 1514 Manutius printing of Virgil's "Opera" on blue paper; Manutius evidently used blue paper for works he considered exceptional, and surviving examples of it are quite rare.
Featured from the department's extensive holdings of Huxley's papers is a charming manuscript of the Noah's Ark story the author created in 1924 for the young daughter of Italian friends with whom he was staying in Florence.
The oldest item in the exhibit is a cuneiform tablet dating to 2057 B.C., which documents that a particular locality had provided its quota of sacrificial animals to the king. The exhibit also features one of the very few surviving copies of the earliest extant, reliably dated example of textual printing in the world, "Muku jk ky jishin'in darani" (Japan, 764–70 A.D.), a three-tiered miniature pagoda containing a hollow cavity into which a printed charm was placed.
A brief letter from Michelangelo dated Sept. 22, 1533, reports on a meeting with Pope Clement VII; based on the date, the meeting may have been to discuss the artist's commission for "The Last Judgment" at the Sistine Chapel.
An unrecorded manuscript, probably from 1824, written in the hand of Ludwig van Beethoven may contain a previously unknown sketch of the Ninth Symphony, according to Beethoven scholar and UCLA professor of music Robert Winter.
Virginia Woolf's proof copy of "Mrs. Dalloway" from 1925 contains her manuscript corrections and the handwritten title on the cover in her preferred purple ink. And a 1928 letter from D.H. Lawrence to a literary friend reports that he is printing a private edition of his new novel, "Lady Chatterley's Lover," noting that "It has to be expurgated for the public: ... It's a phallic novel, frankly, but tender & delicate." A typescript of Raymond Chandler's last novel, "Playback," featuring his famous private eye Philip Marlowe, contains the author's handwritten corrections.
Among the many objects in the exhibit are a pipe that belonged to radio and television comedian Jack Benny, from around 1934, and a silk scarf that belonged to dancer Isadora Duncan, hand-painted and signed by her brother Raymond, from about 1920.
The exhibit was organized by Victoria Steele, head of the department of special collections, and Robert Montoya, manager of reader services.
Admission to the library and the exhibit is free. The Research Library Department of Special Collections is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Sunday and on July 4 and Sept. 1. For more information, visit www2.library.ucla.edu/news/2152.cfm.
The Charles E. Young Research Library Department of Special Collections administers the UCLA Library's rare and unique materials in the humanities, social sciences and visual arts. Its collections encompass rare books and pamphlets from the 15th through the 20th centuries; extensive manuscript holdings; drawings, including original architectural drawings; early maps and atlases; photographs, prints and paintings; audiotape and videotape recordings; oral history transcripts; postcards; and posters. For more information about the department, visit www2.library.ucla.edu/specialcollections/researchlibrary/index.cfm.