On Exhibits: Rare book collection on display Cervantes, "Don Quixote," Exhibit Opens At Peabody In 1967, Harry Sieber, a newly arrived assistant professor of Renaissance and baroque Spanish literature, was surprised to discover that tucked away in the George Peabody Library is one of the East Coast s best collections of books by Miguel de Cervantes, author of the 1605 masterpiece "El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha." The work, widely regarded as the first modern novel, is perhaps better known as the musical "The Man of La Mancha." News of the book s popularity in Spain created a demand for translations throughout Europe with the first English translation completed in 1612. Sieber, now professor in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies, and librarian Robert Bartram, supervisor of Peabody Library, often talked about bringing to the public the collection of "Quixote" texts and their English translations. It just never seemed to work out, Sieber says. Last year, when Sieber taught a seminar on 17th-century Spanish literature, he decided to hold classes at the Peabody Library to take advantage of the collection. That got the books rolling toward the exhibition "El ingenioso hidalgo don Quixote de la Mancha: Early Editions and Translations," which opened last month and will continue through the end of December at the George Peabody Library. The exhibit consists of translations and editions donated by, among others, noted Baltimore lawyer Severn Teakle Wallis, who started the Peabody Spanish book collection with a gift of one of the earliest Spanish editions of the "Don Quixote" published in Brussels in 1616-17. Also on display are 18th- and 19th-century Spanish editions of the book, many of the English translations and a selection of rare editions of novels and plays influenced by Don Quixote. "My goal for the exhibit was not just to show off this Peabody collection, but to tie it into ongoing scholarship and research," says Sieber, who--along with Bartram--served as the exhibit s curator. "In the back of my mind I was thinking of the Peabody collection as a resource the faculty and students can use across a wide range of disciplines." To coincide with the exhibit, Sieber has invited University of Edinburgh's Edward Riley, one of the world's leading authorities on Cervantes, to conduct a graduate seminar this fall as part of the Associates Scholars Program sponsored by the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies. And Sieber included in the exhibit a display of engravings drawn for various editions, including two by William Hogarth. "I asked Ron Paulson [professor of English and art history] to work with me on this section because he's the leading expert on Hogarth," Sieber says. "That's one way this exhibit works to bring together scholarship from other academic departments." Paulson will give a lecture entitled "Don Quixote in England" at 5:30 p.m. on September 14 at the library. The library is open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday. Admission is free.
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