Documents: 24, displayed: 1 - 20

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works, articles and letters by literary figures, scientists and politicians, as well as numerous exceptional or still unpublished pieces.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.

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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 This variant, which remained unpublished until recently, was a praise of freedom of speech and of the sang froid de la raison (the cold blood of reason) against the stratagème (wiles) of ideological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, B-29.8
Paper · 4 pp. · 24 x 31.1 cm · ca. 1818
Ludwig van Beethoven, Missa solemnis op. 123, Gloria (sketch). Autographic score on paper

According to Beethoven, this is his “most accomplished work.” It celebrates the consecration of his student and sponsor, Archduke Rudolph, as Archbishop of Olomouc (Olmütz) in 1818. This mass was begun in 1818; it was completed three years after the ceremony and was presented to the cardinal and archbishop on 19 March 1823. This mass in D major seeks to express and communicate, in the words of the composer himself, a state of mind, a religious Stimmung. It is written for a large orchestra and consists of five movements (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) The sections of the Gloria, imposed by the meaning of the text, constitute a sonata: allegro in D major, Gratias in B flat and back to the allegro; then the larghetto and as a third movement the allegro, Quoniam, the fugue In gloria Dei Patris, with a cyclical return to the theme of the Gloria in the principal tone. The music comments on the text: royal acclamation, heartfelt gratitude, divine omnipotence; then, in contrast: prayers, shouts and murmurs of the supplicants of this world (miserere nobis). Purchased at Sotheby’s, London, 4 February 1952.   (bib)

Online Since: 09/26/2017

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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-71.2
Paper · 1 f. · 28.6 x 26.4 cm · not dated
Victor Hugo, Oh ! N'insultez jamais une femme qui tombe, signed autograph

This famous poem, probably written on 6 September 1835, is part of the composite manuscript Les chants du crépuscule that was published in the same year. Hugo movingly denounces the condition of prostitutes: he actually invites the reader to sympathize with rather than despise the “fallen women”. This symbolic vocabulary, usually denoting moral depravity, is used here not to convey a fault, but to express the courage of women who long struggled against the inevitability of the burden of misery before succumbing to it. Far from a moralizing Manicheism, Hugo assigns faults generally attributed to these women also to “à toi, riche ! à ton or”, pointing a finger at the injustice of a social system lacking any distribution of wealth as well as “à nous”, each citizen whose regard is not charitable enough. This manuscript presents a slight variation of the printed text since it reads: “s’y retenir longtemps de leurs mains épuisées” instead of “s’y cramponner longtemps”. (giv)

Online Since: 09/26/2017

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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, H-71.4
Paper · 4 pp. · 28.2 x 21.8 cm · not dated
Victor Hugo, Ô madame ! pourquoi ce chagrin qui vous suit, signed autograph

The sixteen verses making up this passage are the sixth and last part of the poem "Dans l'église de ***”, included in the composite manuscript Les chants du crépuscule of 1835. Several themes are interwoven in this poem, which contrasts the probity of a woman praying in the middle of an abandoned church with the city’s hedonists, nihilists hurling themselves "d'ivresses en ivresses”. Hugo surprises this pure soul in the midst of adversity, invoking the help of the Lord to save her from overwhelming sadness. In this last part (VI), the writer increases his Christian support (Votre âme qui bientôt fuira peut-être ailleurs / Vers les régions pures, / Et vous emportera plus loin que nos douleurs, Plus loin que nos murmures !) with an angelic and serene quatrain: Soyez comme l'oiseau, posé pour un instant / Sur des rameaux trop frêles, / Qui sent ployer la branche et qui chante pourtant, / Sachant qu'il a des ailes ! (giv)

Online Since: 09/26/2017

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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, L-37.1
Paper · 4 pp. · 25 x 19.9 cm · Washington · 10 July 1848
Abraham Lincoln, Letter to his partner and follower William H. Herndon, signed autograph

In this letter to his young partner William H. Herndon (1818-1891), who had remained in Chicago as head of their joint law office, Lincoln, who is about to lose his seat in Congress as a Representative of the Whig Party, offers a lesson in political philosophy. Exhausted by months of political battles against the Mexican-American War and hurt by "exceedingly painful" statements by his friend (whom he describes as "a laborious, studious young man"), the future American President presents his "so Lincolnian" advice: "The way for a young man to rise is to improve himself every way he can, never suspecting that every body wishes to hinder him." (duc)

Online Since: 09/26/2017

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Cologny, Fondation Martin Bodmer, M-5.1
Paper · 4 pp. · 20 x 30.5 cm · Paris · 21 January 1628
François de Malherbe, Letter to his cousin François de Malherbe, signed autograph

While Cardinal Richelieu was besieging La Rochelle by land and by sea from September 1627 on, the poet François de Malherbe, who was very close to the government, reported on the royal council’s decisions and orientation in order to appease the concerns of his Norman cousin. In Malherbe’s opinion, there is no cause for concern: the King of England is no more than a second-rate monarch, militarily not on a par with France and not able to support the Huguenots of La Rochelle. As to the threat posed by the Reformed, Malherbe judges them to be near the end: "la Huguenoterie court fortune par toute l’Europe d’estre voisine de sa fin." (duc)

Online Since: 09/26/2017

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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-28.3
Paper · 2 pp. · 20 x 15 cm · non daté
Arthur Rimbaud, Jeunesse II-IV, undated autograph

This autograph by Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891) contains a fragment of a poem. Written on the recto side of a page are three sections numbered with Roman numerals from II to IV and, with the exception of the last one (IV), titled. Although the text is written in prose, the designation “sonnet” (II) could be due to the form of the excerpt in question, which is presented in 14 lines. The first section contains the sign +, which is difficult to interpret and which gives the impression that Rimbaud had planned to rework it. The numbering suggests that these three sections form a homogeneous whole together with the section Dimanche (I, BNF manuscript), thus constituting the poem Jeunesse. One can see inscriptions by other hands from after 1886: the annotation Illuminations in the upper left corner deliberately refers to the collection of poems with that same title, which was originally published in 1886. The poem Jeunesse, which consists of four stanzas, was first published by Vanier in 1895, after the Poésies complètes, as a complement to the Illuminations. (exq)

Online Since: 09/26/2017

Documents: 24, displayed: 1 - 20