Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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French and Italian Holdings

Binding. Click to enlarge.

First edition of Les Fleurs du mal by Charles Baudelaire. Paris: Poulet-Malassis et de Broise, 1857. Binding by Charles Meunier.

The Ransom Center's French and Italian holdings trace some of history's most important cultural movements. For example, beginning in the medieval period, the Center's French Books of Hours beautifully merge art and the sacred. Manuscript works of the Italian Renaissance can be found in the pre-1700 manuscript collection and the Ranuzzi manuscript collection, while hundreds of early printed humanist masterpieces can be found in both the Aldine and Medici collections of rare books. The French Enlightenment is represented by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Madame Dupin's unfinished manuscript of an encyclopedia about women entitled "Ouvrage sur les femmes." In addition, the Desmond Flower collection of Voltaire contains over 1,000 eighteenth-century volumes by and about the French author.

Literary and artistic movements of the nineteenth century in France can be studied in the Artinian collection of French literary manuscripts. The collection focuses on French writers of the latter half of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with the largest segment devoted to Guy de Maupassant. Other writers represented in this collection include Honoré de Balzac, Gustave Flaubert, Anatole France, Marcel Proust, Rémy de Gourmont, Rachilde, George Sand, Paul Verlaine, and Émile Zola among others.

Nineteenth-century performing arts in Italy are particularly well represented by a large collection of opera libretti and a superb troupe of 60 Sicilian marionettes, among other objects. Modern manuscripts include works by major Italian authors Luigi Pirandello, Carlo Levi, Alberto Moravia, Paolo Volponi, Libero Bigiaretti, and Carlo Coccioli.

The Carlton Lake collection documents the modern movement in French literature and music. It is widely recognized as one of the finest research collections of modern French materials in the world. The collection is composed of rare, first edition, and illustrated books, art-history and other reference works, music scores, photographs and artworks in various media, and—at its core—manuscripts, corrected proofs, correspondence, and other original materials relating to and documenting the modern movement in French literature, music, and other arts. The collection covers a broad range of writers, artists, and musicians, including Guillaume Apollinaire, Louis Aragon, Antonin Artaud, Georges Bataille, Samuel Beckett, André Breton, Albert Camus, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Blaise Cendrars, Paul Cézanne, René Char, Colette, Claude Debussy, Marcel Duchamp, Paul Eluard, Léon-Paul Fargue, Gabriel Fauré, Jean Genet, André Gide, Alfred Jarry, Pierre Louÿs, Stéphane Mallarmé, André Malraux, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Marcel Proust, Raymond Radiguet, Maurice Ravel, Albert Roussel, Saint-Pol-Roux, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Paul Valéry and many other creative thinkers of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

In addition, the collections of French authors such as Edouard Dujardin, Princess Marthe Bibesco, and Raymond Queneau comprise complete manuscripts of their works and voluminous correspondence with their literary friends and acquaintances.

More extensive information on the Ransom Center's French and Italian collections may be found in the Guide to the Collections and in the manuscript finding aids.

Artwork and photographs belonging to these collections may be accessed through those Ransom Center departments.

Carlton Lake (1915–2006)

Carlton Lake's discerning eye and intellect made him one of the great collectors of modern French manuscripts and a respected author and art critic. His 34-year legacy at the Ransom Center includes over 300 boxes of manuscript materials, and thousands of rare books, photographs, and artworks that extensively document the modern period in French art and literature. As French Curator, he mounted stellar exhibitions, which established the Ransom Center's reputation as a primary locus for the study of French modernism outside of France. And as Executive Curator and Acting Director, Lake again employed his expert l'œil américan to expand the Center's collections by the acquisition of important materials from writers such as Anne Sexton and Ezra Pound, among many others.


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