Rare Book Collection
This exhibition documents the literary activities of English-speaking literary expatriates living and writing in Paris from 1919 until the end of the 1960s. During this period, Paris experienced two major waves of expatriate activity. The first took place during the twenty years following World War I and included such famous literary figures as Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Henry Miller. The second wave, less frequently noted, followed World War II and included holdovers from the earlier period, such as Samuel Beckett, along with a host of new writers, among them, African Americans Richard Wright and James Baldwin and Beat authors Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, and William Burroughs.
The exhibit focuses not only on the expatriates but also on the environment in which they lived and worked. The stories of the writers are inextricably interwoven with those of the many small English-language publishers, periodicals, and bookstores that grew up after both world wars. Some attention, mainly photographic, is also given to the wonderful institution that was as essential to the social and professional lives of the expatriates as to those of native Parisians, namely, the ubiquitous sidewalk café.
Whereas recent exhibitions of twentieth-century materials in the Rare Book Collection (RBC) have focused largely on single authors (e.g. W. B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Walker Percy), the present exhibit is more topical and cuts across the full range of literary materials and collections in the RBC. Those earlier exhibits sought to show the great depth of some of our individual author collections; viewers will see here something of the impressive breadth of our literary holdings. Taken together, these holdings strongly suggest that Wilson Library has become a very important American repository of primary materials for the study of twentieth-century literary history.
We would like to express our gratitude to a number of lenders to the exhibition. We are especially indebted to James R. and Mary M. Patton of Tucson, Arizona, and Snowmass Village, Colorado. They have generously lent us several volumes from their outstanding James Joyce collection, including an exceptionally fine, signed copy of the first edition of Ulysses (Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1922). The inclusion of these magnificent books adds a marked luster to the entire exhibition. It should be noted that the gift by the Pattons of their Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, and James Dickey collections in 1995 served in large degree as inspiration for the remarkable surge in the collecting of twentieth-century literary materials by the RBC during the last decade. The Pattons have very kindly indicated that their Joyce materials as well as their other rare book collections will someday come to UNC permanently.
We also wish to express our thanks to the Ackland Museum for permission to reproduce original Brassaï and Eugène Atget photographs in their collection. The Special Collections of Princeton University Library have also granted us permission to reproduce photographic materials from their Sylvia Beach and Ernest Hemingway Collections. Finally, we are very appreciative of the generosity of the Manuscript Department and the North Carolina Collection here in Wilson Library for allowing us to use and display materials from their collections.