Documents: 18

Sub-project: The Bodmer autograph collection

Start: December 2015

Status: In progress

Financed by: swissuniversities

Description: As part of the ongoing digitization of its holdings, the Martin Bodmer Foundation, together with e-codices, is providing access to a new part of its collection: modern and contemporary autographs (16th-20th century). These are texts in the author's own handwriting; they can, but need not be, signed by the author. The collection, which took over half a century to compile, contains several thousand documents; among them are complete manuscripts of literary and scientific works, articles and letters by literary figures, scientists and politicians, as well as numerous exceptional or still unpublished pieces. In addition, there are numerous documents that were collected at the beginning of the 20th century by the famous writer Stefan Zweig, himself a great collector of autographs.

All Libraries and Collections

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, B-24.1
Paper · 2 pp. · 23 x 19 cm · n.d. [Paris, around January 1797]
Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, Pour Mr La Rochelle jouant Brid’oison. En cas de bruit à la fin, signed autograph

The comedy The Mad Day, or The Marriage of Figaro is a vivid satire of society during the Ancien Régime and of aristocratic privileges; it was first performed on April 27, 1784 and presaged the beginning of the French Revolution, which it doubtlessly helped bring about. After the fall of the monarchy in 1792, the comedy was again performed on several Parisian stages, albeit the concluding songs were modified by Beaumarchais. The final stanza of the stuttering judge Don Gusman Brid’oison, which in 1784 had concluded Tout fini-it par des chansons, was adapted to the difficulties of the period: Pour tromper sa maladie, / Il [the people] chantoit tout l’opera : / Dame ! il n’sait plus qu’ce p’tit air-là : / Ca ira, ça ira... However, after the fall of Robespierre and the Thermidorian Reaction, these words roiled young Muscadins just as the previous ones had caused the Sansculottes to react. Since the performances were disrupted by such turbulent audiences, Beaumarchais entrusted La Rochelle, the actor who performed the role of Brid’Oison, with an alternative ending that could be recited en cas de bruit (in case of noise). This variant, which remained unpublished until recently, was a praise of freedom of speech and of the sang froid de la raison (the cold blood of reason) against the stratagème (wiles) of ideological cabals. (duc)

Online Since: 06/22/2017

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, E-4.1
Paper · 12 ff. · 33 x 21 cm · 1920
Albert Einstein, Ether and Relativity Theory, autograph

At the beginning of his visiting professorship at the Reichs-Universität of Leiden, on May 5, 1920, Albert Einstein gave this lecture with the title “Ether and Relativity Theory.” This copy, in his own handwriting, contains numerous corrections and deletions. The lecture was published in the same year. Einstein later often returned to the concepts set forth in this lecture. (fri)

Online Since: 12/17/2015

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, F-16.1
Paper · 4 pp. · 23 x 34.6 cm · 1851
Gustave Flaubert, Le Chant de la Courtisane, autograph

Despite visible erasures, this is the completed version of this untitled text, which consists of six paragraphs on two leaves, bound in red Morocco leather. At the earliest it was written by Flaubert during his voyage to the Orient (1849-1851) with his friend Maxime du Camp, although it seems more likely to date from his return to France in 1851, the moment he dedicated his life to writing. Later know by the title Le Chant de la Courtisane, this prose poem in a humorous tone was not published by Flaubert himself. Nonetheless, it sums up his challenges as a writer: the work shows the author’s fascination with Oriental culture and landscape, which he hopes to to reproduce in a realistic manner. A journal of his voyage, which records his observations and sensations and directly feeds his fictional work. The vocabulary reveals a certain erudition and a concern for accuracy, procedures which herald Salammbô. This manuscript, from the collection of Paul Voute (who had published a facsimile thereof in 1928), was purchased by Martin Bodmer at the Blaizot bookstore. (exq)

Online Since: 06/22/2017

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, F-16.3
Paper · 46 pp. · 22.5 x 35 cm · 1858
Gustave Flaubert, explanatory chapter from Salammbô, autograph

Mentioned in his correspondence by Flaubert as an explanatory chapter to Salammbô, this manuscript consists of 28 leaves, which are all numbered, except for the last one that contains notes regarding the gods. The manuscript is in a folder on which Flaubert noted the work’s title as well as a date, 1857, that corresponds with the beginning of the writing of Salammbô. This chapter, however, was written after 1857: it was actually conceived after an important documentation phase indispensable to the project and after a trip to Carthage. Upon his return in 1858, the writer worked on a chapter that would be “the topographical and picturesque description of the aforementioned city, with a portrayal of the people who inhabited it, including the traditional costume, government, religion, finances and commerce, etc." (Letter to J. Duplan, dated 1 July 1858). Despite a certain number of corrections and marginal additions, this is the completed version of the text, which ultimately was removed from the novel, even though information therefrom was scattered throughout the work. This chapter reveals the way the author works. He is distinguished by his encyclopedic erudition and his attention to detail, which shed light on the original challenges in the creation of Salammbô: that of reconstructing the then-lost city of Carthage. In November 1949, Martin Bodmer purchased this manuscript at the Blaizot bookstore. (exq)

Online Since: 06/22/2017

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, G-72.1
Paper · 66 ff. · 22 x 18 cm · [1810]
Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, composite manuscript with 45 fairy tales and one saga (autograph, unsigned)

On October 25th and December 15th of 1810, Jacob Grimm sent Clemens Brentano this manuscript. It is the oldest handwritten version of the Kinder- und Hausmärchen since the Brothers Grimm systematically destroyed all the preliminary work for their edition of the fairy tales, probably in order to prevent the comparison between the handwritten versions and the later printed edition (first edition 1812), which was thoroughly revised and expressed in literary form. According to an analysis by Heinz Rölleke (Rölleke Heinz (ed.), Die älteste Märchensammlung der Brüder Grimm. Synopse der handschriftlichen Urfassung von 1810 und der Erstdrucke von 1812, Cologny-Genève 1975), 25 fairy tales were written by Jacob Grimm, 14 by Wilhelm Grimm (partly with addenda by his brother), and 7 can be attributed to four other authors. Martin Bodmer purchased this manuscript from Mary A. Benjamin, New York, in 1953. (fri)

Online Since: 12/17/2015

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, H-51.4
Paper · 1 f. · 32.5 x 21 cm · 1843 / (20.01.1756)
Friedrich Hölderlin, Der Frühling, autograph

This poem in two stanzas of four lines each and titled “Der Frühling,” was written by Friedrich Hölderlin (1770-1843) in his own hand; at the end it is signed “Mit Unterthänigkeit Scardanelli” and dated to January 20, 1756. Hölderlin, who from about 1802 on was mentally ill, often signed his works, sometimes with invented names, among them Scardanelli, and invented dates. Another hand has corrected the given date in pencil to 1843; this suggests that the poem was created shortly before Hölderlin’s death. (fri)

Online Since: 12/17/2015

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, H-51.5
Paper · 1 f. · 32.3 x 20.5 cm · 12.6.1842 / (15.11.1759)
Friedrich Hölderlin, Der Herbst, autograph

This poem in three stanzas of four lines each and titled “Der Herbst”, was written by Friedrich Hölderlin in his own hand; at the end it is dated to November 15, 1759. Hölderlin, who from about 1802 on was mentally ill, often signed his works, sometimes with invented names and invented dates. At the top of the page another hand has written „Autographie v Hölderlin“ along with the correction „Tübingen d 12 Juli 1842.“ (fri)

Online Since: 12/17/2015

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, H-51.6
Paper · 1 f. · 32.5 x 20.5 cm · 7.11.1842 / (24.4.1849)
Friedrich Hölderlin, Der Winter, autograph

This poem in two stanzas of four lines each and titled “Der Winter”, was written by Friedrich Hölderlin in his own hand; at the end it is signed “Mit Unterthänigkeit Scardanelli” and dated to April 24, 1849. Hölderlin, who from about 1802 on was mentally ill, often signed his works, sometimes with invented names, among them Scardanelli, and invented dates. Another hand has corrected the given date in pencil to November 7, 1842. (fri)

Online Since: 12/17/2015

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, H-71.3
Paper · 3 ff. · 21 x 30 cm · [Brussels ?] · October 11, 1869
Victor Hugo, [Impératrice] « Si j’étais femme (Hélas ! que je vous plains, ô mères !... ) », autograph

This unsigned poem by Victor Hugo opens with the lines „Si j’étais femme (Hélas ! que je vous plains, ô mères ! …);“ it remained unpublished until 2009. Hugo himself crossed out the original title „Impératrice“ for being too obvious. The text is addressed to the wife of Napoleon III, Eugenia de Montijo, whom Hugo reproaches for her „bigoterie“ (3r) and her „signe de croix grotesque à l’espagnole“ (1r). Thus he extends to the spouse the criticism of Napoleon III that he had already presented in the Châtiments. The date of October 11, 1869, in Hugo’s own handwriting, suggests that the text was created in Brussels, where Hugo lived in exile since the coup of December 2, 1851. (fri)

Online Since: 12/17/2015

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, L-5.2
Paper · 30 pp. · 18.9 x 11.9 cm · around 1824-1826 and around 1851
Alphonse de Lamartine, Les Visions (Song II), autograph

Around the 1820s, Lamartine undertook an ambitious poetic work: Les Visions. Although several fragments thereof were used in Jocely (1836) or in La Chute d’un ange (1838), most of these verses remained unpublished for 30 years, with the poet tirelessly reworking, changing and correcting them until the final publication in 1851. This autograph of Song II contains a passage of ten verses that ultimately were not published (ellipsis marks the place in the original edition). (duc)

Online Since: 12/17/2015

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, M-23.3
Paper · 23 pp. · 19.6 x 29.8 cm · undated [May-June 1887]
Guy de Maupassant, Le rosier de Madame Husson, autograph

With his six novels and his famous collections of over 300 short stories, Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) has earned a place among the most important French writers of the end of the 19th century. He presented an often unvarnished picture of provincial as well as Parisian society of his time. This is the case in the present story, the only one to have had a separate original edition preceding its publication in the collection of the same name. This manuscript was used for the first printing of the text, which was originally published on June 15, 1887 in La Nouvelle Revue. It contains numerous corrections and deletions (which bear witness to the creation of the story), as well as slight variations in comparison with the version published in the volume of March 28, 1888. (duc)

Online Since: 12/17/2015

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, M-45.1
Paper · 1 p. · 21.5 x 28.7 cm · undated [1541]
Michelangelo, Sonnet and letter to the poet Vittoria Colonna, autograph

Michelangelo (1475-1564) addressed this sonnet and his dedication to one of his closest friends, the poet Vittoria Colonna (1492-1547), marchesa of Pescara. Although the painter often was very sparing in his use of paper, for these few lines he used a large and beautiful in-folio sheet, folded and glued together (to add more thickness). Writing in a humanist script close to calligraphy, he showed particular care for the layout, using line spacing and indentations to reinforce the customary architecture of the sonetto. His tone is very respectful: Michelangelo greets not only a friend, but also a lady who is part of high society and who has given him a valuable gift. This gift, which was to take its beneficiary "in paradiso”, must have been a manuscript of the Sonetti spirituali of the poet (who in general was very discreet and only rarely showed her verses). (duc)

Online Since: 12/17/2015

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, M-48.1
Paper · 1 f. · 13.5 x 10.5 cm · not dated
John Stuart Mill, Note on Freedom of Speech, signed autograph

Following enlightenment philosophers, liberal thinkers - which include Mill - considered freedom of speech a fundamental human right. In this small autograph, with embossed monogram "JSM", consisting of three folios intended for dispatch, the philosopher copies a passage of his famous "On Liberty" from 1869, taken from chapter II: "Of the Liberty of Thought and Discussion." Mill emphasizes that humankind no more has the right to silence a single opinion than it has the right to silence all of humankind, if it had the power to do so. Before it became the property of Martin Bodmer, this letter had been purchased by the author Stefan Zweig in 1923. (giv)

Online Since: 06/22/2017

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, N-4.1
Paper · 3 pp. · 20.5 x 31 cm · 1818
Napoleon, César, autograph

During his exile on St. Helena, Napoleon (1769-1821) availed himself of a library of 3,000 books — a poor remedy for boredom. Nevertheless, the deposed emperor found pleasure in reading and annotating ancient and modern classics. As a theater enthusiast, he read aloud Voltaire’s La Mort de César to his entourage several times. He decided to write his own play on the same subject; this manuscript in Napoleon’s own handwriting presents a quick sketch of the first two scenes. On page 3, tired of his subject, the emperor covers the page with strategic and military calculations, having frigates engage with regiments and artillery. (duc)

Online Since: 12/17/2015

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, R-49.1
Paper · 1 f. · 18 x 12 cm · not dated [ca. 1764]
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Lettres écrites de la montagne (Letter VII), second draft, autograph

The Lettres écrites de la montagne are the last work that was published during Rousseau’s lifetime. For the first time, the philosopher becomes directly involved in the affairs of Geneva. Beyond fundamental proposals, the letters contain further developed thoughts on the spirit of the Reformation as well as a defense of the Contrat Social. Letter VII, where this page comes from, supports the right of representation when it comes to correcting abuses of the Small Council, and it recommends that citizens convened in the General Council reject all new elections of magistrates if these should insist upon overstepping the rights given them by the Constitution. The Lettres were censored in Geneva as well as in Paris. This document is from the collection of Ch. Vellay (purchased by Martin Bodmer in 1926) and contains a draft of two passages from the Lettres. The first of these was published in the original edition (Amsterdam, M. M. Rey, 1764), the second in the edition of the Œuvres complètes of the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade. (giv)

Online Since: 06/22/2017

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, R-49.2
Paper · 38 pp. · 27.5 x 18.5 cm · December 1740
Rousseau, Mémoire présenté à M. de Mably sur l’éducation de M. son fils

The Mémoire présenté à M. de Mably sur l’éducation de M. son fils is Rousseau’s first writing related to his experience as an educator. In 1740 he took up a difficult position as tutor in the family of the notable Jean Bonnot de Mably, provost general of police in the Lyon region. This position came to an end after only one year. Two young children with little inclination to study had been entrusted to his care: François-Paul-Marie Bonnot de Mably, called Monsieur de Sainte-Marie, five and a half years old, and Jean-Antoine Bonnot de Mably, called Monsieur de Condillac, four and a half years old. The long Mémoire, dedicated to the older boy, emphasizes the “educational mission” and experience with practical education: it is presented as a plan and a synthesis; its writing has been dated around December 1740. The young tutor addresses M. de Mably and makes known to him the plan and structure for the education of his son in order to shape “the heart, the judgment and the spirit.” This is not the natural education, which later on will be advocated in ’Émile. Did Rousseau really present this Mémoire to M. de Mably? Known is only that he gave this manuscript of the Mémoire to Mme Dupin, his employer in 1743, and that since then it has been kept with the “Papers of Mme Dupin.” It was published for the first time in Paris in 1884 by G. de Villeneuve-Guibert in Le portefeuille de Madame Dupin. The Fondation Bodmer’s manuscript is the only one in existence. A Projet d’éducation, much shorter, more clearly structured and of unknown date, was found among Rousseau’s papers at the time of his death (this manuscript, now lost, was first published in Geneva in 1782). It is very similar to the Mémoire and seems to have been written (brc)

Online Since: 06/23/2016

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, T-3.3
Paper · 1 p. · 6.8 x 19.1 cm · n.d. [Ferrara, 1576]
Torquato Tasso (1544-1595), stanza XVII, 42 of Gerusalemme liberata, autograph

This "paperolle" from the famous "Code Gonzague" (held in the Biblioteca Ariostea of Ferrara) is a working copy for a passage that was added to Tasso’s great work, completed the previous year. The poet had submitted his original work to various humanists and high-ranking scholars, and he took into consideration certain critiques and suggestions when editing his verses during the summer of 1576. Several stanzas were profoundly revised or even completely rewritten. Stanza 42 was one of the most reworked, to the point that Tasso had to paste this small strip of paper with the definitive version of the text into the manuscript. The text describes the attitude and thoughts of the Muslim princess Armide, who gets ready to harangue the caliph and his armies and incite them to fight to the death with the crusaders and thus to take revenge on the Christian hero Rinaldo, who had abandoned her. (duc)

Online Since: 06/22/2017

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, V-7.2
Paper · 114 pp. · 15.9 x 21.5 cm · 1 February 1611
Felix Lope de Vega y Carpi, Barlaán y Josafat, autograph

Felix Lope de Vega y Carpio (1562-1635), author of many comedias de santos, finished this Historia de Barlán y Josafat, comedia in three acts and in verse at home „En Madrid a primero de febrero de 1611.“ This complete manuscript contains numerous corrections and revisions by the author. This story of a conversion is more than an authentic Christian legend (then attributed to Saint John of Damascus) — it is above all a Christianized story. In the prince, who first gives up his palace in order to learn about the plagues of the world and then leaves his throne for the meditative life of an ascetic, one certainly recognizes Buddha. The edifying Christian story, set at the banks of the Ganges, is nothing other than an adaptation of Vie du Bodhisattva, a 2nd-4th century Sanskrit text, which over centuries was translated and adapted first by the Manichaeans, then by the Arabs, Georgians and Byzantines, until it finally reached the far distant people of the Western World: Lope de Vega’s work thus (without the author’s having been aware of this) is part of one of the most impressive chains of intellectual transmission in history. (duc)

Online Since: 12/17/2015

Documents: 18