Category: Rare Book Collection

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Special Collections at the Movies: Hercules

This week's post is by Shelby Wolfe, a Special Collections undergraduate assistant.

While Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson might not be the first person who comes to mind when pondering the classical humanities, his portrayal of Hercules in the most recent film version about the mythological demi-god might spark your desire to delve far back into classical mythology. If so, check out these Hercules-related materials at Special Collections.

Heathen-Gods-Title-Page

Hercules has entertained generations of adventure-loving readers and listeners for centuries. From pottery and poetry to compendium and comic book, illustrated depictions of the mythological hero are typically easy to identify – a large, muscular man often wielding a bulky club and donning a characteristic lionskin.

This plate in Andrew Tooke’s 1806 edition of The Pantheon details the hero’s attributes. Covered in a lionskin, the main image features Hercules resting his club on the ground. Two roundels above provide a closer inspection of the club and lionskin.

Hercules-Ill.-1

Likewise, this illustration from Tooke’s 1844 Pantheon shows Hercules outfitted with his attributes. In addition, two roundel inserts depict Hercules in the midst of his Twelve Labors – slaying the Nemean Lion (the source of his lionskin attire) on the far left and his battle with the Lernaean Hydra on the far right.

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For a more modern depiction of the famed hero, take a closer look at this comic book from 1984. Hercules: Prince of Power features a monstrously muscular title character intent on saving the Marvel universe from rebel military forces in the year 2385.

Hercules-Comic

Whether it’s the 8th century BCE or 2385 CE, Hercules is sure to be flexing his muscles somewhere. 

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Posted in Comic Collection, Rare Book Collection

Amazing Engraved Plates of a Huge Party in Strasbourg, 1744

Louis XV may not have been the most popular king, but when he fell ill and was near death in 1744, his subjects across France prayed dutifully for his recovery.  In October 1744, once he was well enough, the king visited Strasbourg, and the town threw what looks to have been a huge party to celebrate his visit and convalescence.  There were processions through the streets, races, dances, and even fireworks.  These events were all faithfully chronicled by J. M. Weis, "graveur de la ville de Strasbourg," and produced in the nearly monumental format of a large folio with two-page spreads. This is a fete book – a royal souvenir for a royal celebration.

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 plate10 plate02 plate04 plate05 plate08

The MU Libraries copy is still in the original binding, and if you follow our Adopt a Book program, you may recognize it.  William Heyde III recently donated funds to support conservation work, and Jim Downey at Legacy Bookbindery made the repairs the volume needed.  Once the book was in stable condition, we were able to send it to the MU Libraries Digital Services unit. So, thanks to a generous donor, a conservator, a couple of rare book librarians, and several digital imaging and metadata experts, this book is now available to the world.  We think that in itself is cause for celebration!  

Get a closer look at the plates or page through the text in the University of Missouri Digital Library.  Be sure to use the zoom feature to take in the details – the variety of tiny figures that populate these prints is really amazing.

Weis, Johann Martin, d. ca. 1795. Représentation des fêtes données par la ville de Strasbourg pour la convalescence du Roi; à l'arrivée et pendant le séjour de Sa Majesté en cette ville. Inventé, dessiné et dirigé par J. M. Weiss, graveur de la ville de Strasbourg. Paris: imprimë par Laurent Aubert [1745]. MERLIN catalog record

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Posted in Digital Collections, Rare Book Collection

Special Collections at the Movies: Planet of the Apes

Released today is the eighth film in the Planet of the Apes franchise, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”  Set ten years after its predecessor “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” this film promises a darker, more engaging science-fiction world than any other Apes film before it.  In honor of the new movie, Special Collections is proud to bring you “Books of the Planet of the Apes”!  If you’ve got a monkey on your back, swing in to Special Collections and check out some of our simian stuff!

Gorilla-Hunter

This is a scan from one of the opening pages of “Paul Du Chaillu: Gorilla Hunter,” the noted French-American explorer and zoologist.  Du Chaillu is credited with confirming the existence of gorillas, and worked extensively with indigenous Pygmy tribes in Africa.  His exciting life of adventure and discovery is chronicled in “Gorilla Hunter,” and while some today might find the subject matter offensive, Du Chaillu’s legacy in ape history is unquestionable.

Tarzan

Up next we have a graphic novel adaptation of one of the most famous apperances of apes in popular culture, Tarzan the Ape Man.  Tarzan was created by Edgar Rice Burroughs and introduced in the 1912 short story, “Tarzan of the Apes.”  In Burroughs’ origin story, a family is marooned on the African coast and only their young son survives.  He’s adopted by a tribe of apes and raised as their own.  Burroughs continued to publish stories about Tarzan until his death in 1950.  Since then, Tarzan has been adopted once again, this time into popular culture.  Over 200 movies have been released that feature the Ape Man. 

Jungle-Book

Rudyard Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” introduced the character of Mowgli, an inspiration for Burrough’s Tarzan.  It also inspired this graphic novel by Harvey Kurtzman, also called “The Jungle Book.”  Kurtzman’s work is a social commentary on the nature of man in society, and how quickly humanity can descend back into its more primitive forms.  Kurtzman satirically dedicates his novel to a half-man, half-ape creature. 

Classification

Lastly, and perhaps slightly less aesthetically pleasing, is a chart from former University of Missouri professor James Gavan’s “A Classification of the Order Primates,” which details the line of descent of different species of apes.  It’s interesting to note which species Gavan cites as being nearest to man – according to his work, gorillas, orangutans and chimpanzees are just one evolutionary step away from us.  Published in 1975, more than a century after Charles Darwin pioneered his Theory of Evolution, Gavan’s work still caused controversies.  He participated in a creationism/evolution debate in October, 1975, against a famous creation scientist called Duane Gish, author of several anti-evolution books, including 1972’s “Evidence Against Evolution” and 1986’s “Evolution: The Fossils Say No!”  According to audience reaction, Gish outperformed Gavan in the debate.  A “rematch” was scheduled, but never occurred.  Professor Gavan passed away in 1994, and Gish in 2013.

That’s just a small sample of our simian stockpile.  Don’t wait for the apes to take over – take a look at these (and other great monkey materials) today!

 

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Posted in Comic Collection, Rare Book Collection, University of Missouri Collection
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