Humbling experience

I went to the Morgan Library tonight.

There is wonderful exhibit there of illuminated Medieval manuscripts. I went on the recommendation of a nice fellow who gave me a ride into town from LaGuardia.


In the new acquisitions exhibit, here are a few things I found.

A manuscript page of an untitled story by Ernest Hemmingway (1947)

Artist Arthur Getz’s sketchbook from 1948-58 of covers for New Yorker.

A playbill of the 1788 Leipzig performance of Mozart’s Il dissoluto punito o sia D. Giovanni.

A score of Meistersinger marked up by Wagner.

Letters of Oscar Wilde.

A typewritten letter of TS Eliot from 1929 to a friend, a roomate from college. Some rather funny but scatological verse was included. Also the detail: "the Criterion is sent to you with invoice. Yes, it still exists, in spite of various vicissitudes; and the Pope, Ramsey Mac, and Herbet Hoover are said to tear it open with trembling fingers once every three months."

A page a story by Bernard Malamud, marked up and edited by him with changes. Fascinating.

A first printing from 1567 of the Missa Papae Marcelli by Palestrina.

An autograph photo and page of Yeats.

A letter of Charles Dawin eight years after Origin, in which he claims that his views will be universally accepted.

A 1536 printing of Bede’s Opuscula cumplura.

Seven photos of Mark Twain in a rocking chair on his porch which he wrote on as a series showing, like a story board, Twain having a moral debate with himself.

A scale survey map of London and Southwark from 1748.

Sketches by Degas, Mattisse, Toulouse-Laurtrec and many other artists.

Dylan Thomas’s hand written draft of "In the white giant’s thigh", close to the end of his life.

A singed ms page of Charles Dickens "Evenings of a working man" from 1844.

Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s letter to introduce himself and his poetry to Leigh Hunt, a friend of Keat, Shelley, and Byron. 1847

Robert Frost’s note to Conrad Aiken about his upcoming visit… and tennis.

A 1743 wordbook of London performance of the Messiah.

A manuscript page of the second movement of the 7th Symphony by Beethoven from 1812.

A letter of Vincent van Gogh to Paul Gauguin 1888 about an upcoming visit of the latter. It has sketches of a sitting room. He writes, "I often don’t know what I am doing, working almost like a sleepwalker."

How about this…

A handwritten manscript by Frederik the Great of his refutation of Machiavelli’s The Prince. But WAIT! There’s more! It is marked up by Voltaire, to whom Frederick had sent it for corrections and suggestions. COOL?

At the closing of the Library, I met a priest friend who was kind enough to take me out to supper at a superb country-style French place.  I had duck with orange sauce and a gentle Cote du Rhone.  The duck was tender with just the right amount of fat.  It came with green beans and a little mix of rice and wild mushrooms.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Charivari Rob says:

    That’s great, Father! I was there once, years ago. Wonderful, isn’t it?

  2. marthawrites says:

    My husband and I saw that same exhibit five days ago when we were in town to celebrate our 44th anniversary. NYC never disappoints.

  3. Charivari Rob says:

    “A handwritten manscript by Frederik the Great of his refutation of Machiavelli’s The Prince. But WAIT! There’s more! It is marked up by Voltaire, to whom Frederick had sent it for corrections and suggestions. COOL?”

    Did Voltaire show his emphasis and [comments]?

  4. Nan says:

    I read about that exhibit the other day and would love to go. Glad you shared your experience with it.

  5. Welcome to my world, Father!

    I’m down there at the Morgan in late July with an appointment to talk to curators about a book project on medieval humor and the riches they have to illustrate it.

  6. Michael: I saw a couple really funny margin drawings today. I pointed one out to some people who were just drifting past the treasure and they laughed out loud. They seemed to pay more attention to pages after that.

  7. TerryN says:

    Don’t you love NYC! The Morgan is fantastic.

  8. Fr. Z: If I may ask, what was the name of the French place? Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay in our fair city!

  9. Steve K. says:

    “A handwritten manscript by Frederik the Great of his refutation of Machiavelli’s The Prince. But WAIT! There’s more! It is marked up by Voltaire, to whom Frederick had sent it for corrections and suggestions. COOL?”

    Amazing – would love to see that. Did not Frederick, late in life, correct his opinion of Machiavelli as he expressed it in the Anti-Machiavel, with the hindsight of his life as a monarch?

  10. Victor says:

    As far as I remember, Frederick the (so-called) Great wrote the “Anti-Macchiavelli” as a Crown Prince, only to do the exact opposite when he became King (i.e., steal Silesia from the young Maria Theresia in two devastating wars).
    By the way, Frederick and Voltaire had a longlasting pen friendship; Frederick even invited Voltaire to Potsdam to live with him. Voltaire accepted the invitation, but after two years of living together, the friendship was over – turns out Voltaire was rather an intrigant and unlikable fellow (no surprise there, I guess).
    Frederick was said to speak and write French more fluently than German – to such an amount that, some years ago, the letters of both Voltaire and Frederick were used at school in France as an example of excellent French. I suppose his Anti-Macchiavell is written in French, too?

  11. Did you see Martin Luther’s application to Notre Dame University?

  12. Anne M. says:

    I’m going to be in NYC for a week beginning this Thursday. I hope I can add the exhibit
    to my ever growing list of activities.

    Thanks for letting us know about it.

  13. Tricia says:

    Dear Father,
    You might like a visit to the Cloisters; a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It houses medieval religious art and architecture. It’s in northern Manhattan in Fort Tyron Park. It’s lovely museum in a lovely setting. [And on Monday I bet it is closed.]

  14. irishgirl says:

    Wow-sounds like a great exhibit there, Fr. Z!

    Haha, Rob-’emphasis’ and ‘comments’ indeed! Things never change!

    I’m from Upstate NY, but have never been to any of the NYC museums. The Morgan Library sounds cool!

    One place I really want to go to is the Metropolitan Museum of Art. There’s a painting of St. Joan of Arc by Jules Bastien-LePage that I’m just dying to see!

  15. Matthew says:

    I would also be grateful to know the name of the restaurant, Fr. Z. I’m going to be in Manhattan in early to mid-August for week.

  16. enrico says:

    Missa Papae MarcellAE by Palestrina? Maybe Papessae Marcellae, then.

    My dear Father Z., quandoque dormitat et bonus Homerus.

  17. enrico: That whole thing was posted from my phone. Try that sometime.

  18. A few priest friends and I went into the Morgan Library a few years ago, at the time simply to get out of a rainstorm. What an amazing place. At the time, there was a show in the middle of the library of sheet music manuscripts handwritten by people like Handel, Bach and Mozart, to name a few. I mean, seeing papers their hands touched was awesome.

  19. I am simply drooling over this post! Wow!

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