Getting to know Klibansky: adventures of an intern

Sophie Trolliet-Martial completed an eight week internship at Rare Books and Special Collections as part of her masters in library and information studies at the Université de Montréal. During that time she worked with archival material from the Raymond Klibansky Collection, bringing new material to light for an active research team, and making the material accessible as a whole through documentation and structured re-housing. We asked her to write about her experience.

By Sophie Trolliet-Martial

J’ai fait la connaissance de Monsieur Raymond Klibansky en mai 2015 à travers la collection qu’il a léguée à l’Université de McGill en 2005. Étant étudiante à l’école de bibliothéconomie et sciences de l’information (EBSI) de l’Université de Montréal, j’ai effectué mon stage de fin d’études à la division des livres rares et collections spécialisées de l’université de McGill aux côtés de ma superviseure, madame Jillian Tomm. C’est dans ce cadre-ci que j’ai eu la chance de travailler pendant huit semaines sur la collection de monsieur Klibansky afin de préparer de la documentation à présenter lors d’un symposium international en collaboration avec l’Université de Montréal, le Warburg Institute et Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach. Cet évènement intitulé «The Warburg Library’s Network: Geography and History of an Intellectual Afterlife. From Hamburg to London, and to Montreal – The contribution of Raymond Klibansky (1905-2005) » s’est tenu les 18 et 19 juin 2015 à Londres.

J’ai ainsi découvert le philosophe et historien, monsieur Raymond Klibansky. J’ai sauté pieds joints dans sa collection comme on plonge en plein milieu de l’océan rempli de trésors et de surprises. Monter une bibliothèque et l’enrichir au fil du temps nous apprend que monsieur Klibansky est un amoureux des livres mais aussi curieux de la vie, des êtres humains et du monde.

J’ai vécu cette expérience en deux étapes : la première que je nommerai d’« immersion matérielle», une entrée dans les rayons, visualisant le dos puis la couverture des livres, feuilletant des ouvrages de différents formats, époques et origines. Puis, je me suis immiscée dans les documents archivaux de monsieur Klibansky, des boîtes et des classeurs comprenant des lettres manuscrites et dactylographiées, des cartes postales, des reçus et des tirés à part. J’appellerai la deuxième approche, l’«immersion immatérielle», c’est-à-dire l’interprétation de ces écrits qui m’ont guidée, grâce à l’analyse de leur contexte, vers un enrichissement de la connaissance.


Librorum Francisci Petrarchae Basileae impressorum annotatio …, 1496 folio Incun 1496 Petrarca:b – Raymond Klibansky Collection

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A Hyakumanto Dharani – among the earliest surviving examples of printed text

by Mengge Cao and Jillian Tomm

In 1968, McGill acquired a copy of the Hyakumanto Dhāraṇī (百萬塔陀羅尼經), one of the earliest surviving examples of printed text, along with the miniature wooden pagoda within which it was stored more than a thousand years ago.


The Hyakumanto Dhāraṇī ( 百萬塔陀羅尼經) scroll with original miniature wooden pagoda. Photo: Greg Houston

A dhāraṇī can be described as a charm used in Esoteric Buddhist rituals. It was believed that by chanting and copying a dhāraṇī, an individual or a state would be protected from harm. The Hyakumanto Dhāraṇī was commissioned by the Empress Shotoku of Japan during the eighth century to appease the Buddhist clergy and honour the souls lost in a recent revolt. According to historical sources, one million copies of this dhāraṇī were made and distributed across Japan around 770 CE.

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May Day!

Think Rare Books and Special Collections is just about beautiful things? Well think again – rare book libraries have long been central to the preservation of testimonies, facts, and reflections central to social arguments of all kinds.

This morning, singing of the Internationale erupted on the Montreal metro. If the day has put you in the spirit, come by and see some of the roots of support for workers here in Canada and around the world from earlier days.

See, for example, Daniel De Leon’s Socialist Reconstruction of Society. Originally delivered as an address to unionists in Chicago in 1905 under the title “The preamble of the Industrial Workers of the World,” the text has been reprinted many times. This copy dates from 1944.


Socialist Reconstruction of Society: the industrial vote, by Daniel De Leon (New York : New York Labor News Co., 1944). HD8055 I5 D4 1944 Rare Books/Special Collections – Lande-Arkin Canadiana. Inserted is a 2-sided flyer for the Socialist Labor Party of Canada.

This 1944 copy had affixed inside it (now loose) a note by the Socialist Labor Party of Canada with a description of its aims, an address to contact for more such publications, and an advertisement of the official publishing arm of the party. With the flyer is a pre-paid postcard to join the Canadian SLP:


Back of a pre-paid postcard (for 1 cent) to join the Socialist Labor Party of Canada. ca 1944. Tipped into De Leon’s Socialist Reconstruction of Society

See also material from outside of Canada. The book figured below, Zabastovka by N. Adolʹf, published in Moscow in 1931, is about the 1930 Berlin metal-workers strike. The work is for children, just one of many books from the early Soviet era in McGill’s significant collection of Children’s Soviet books. Many of these, which include a great deal of striking art,  can be viewed online:


Zabastovka, by N. Adolʹf. (Moskva [Moscow] : Molodai︠a︡ gvardii︠a︡, 1931). Children’s Books Soviet A36Z3 1931 [By Consultation] Rare Books/Special Collections

Happy May Day!


Gould’s birds

Gould watercolour VII: Little Parakeet

“Little Parakeet,” no. VII from the portfolio of Twenty Original Water-colour Drawings of Australian Birds, by John Gould

John Gould (1804–1881) was an English ornithologist, artist, and publisher of exceptional illustrated books on birds. Well known in natural history circles, he made significant contributions to the work of Charles Darwin through his identification of bird families on the Galápagos Islands, and was a pioneer in the determination of and communication about Australian birds.

Gould’s own sketches formed the basis of most of his book illustrations, which were often published as hand-coloured lithographs produced by his wife Elizabeth or other artists, including Edward Lear, H.C. Richter, and Joseph Wolf.

Among Gould’s most ambitious projects are the large folio volumes of The Birds of Australia (1840–1848) and its Supplement (first published in 1851), both with hand-coloured lithographs. Along with this first edition and several related titles, McGill holds a number of original Gould drawings, including sixteen used for his Birds of Australia, produced between 1831 and 1836.

These drawings, organized with related pieces in a portfolio titled Twenty original water-colour drawings of Australian birds, can be consulted in Rare Books and Special Collections, and our Digital Initiatives team has now made digital images available through the Internet Archive: browse small thumbnail images or see individual Internet Archive records to download high quality TIFF image files.

Meetings with Books – a new publication from McGill University Library and Archives

We are pleased to announce the publication of:


Special Collections in the 21st Century
With a Tribute to Raymond Klibansky
Illustrated Survey of Special Collections at
McGill University Library and Archives

Edited by
Jillian Tomm and Richard Virr

A publication of
McGill University Library and Archives


On March 20, 2013, McGill University held a one-day symposium titled “Meetings with Books: Raymond Klibansky, Special Collections and the Library in the 21st Century.” The aims of the symposium were three-fold: to discuss the question “It is all on the Web, so why bother? Special Collections in the Digital Age”; to celebrate the memory of Raymond Klibansky as a mentor, scholar, collector, and donor of his significant and valuable research library to McGill; and to bring the narrative gifts of author Alberto Manguel to ignite inspiration as only he is able.

The day was an opportunity to consider why historical book collections might matter, and how they connect, or might be connected, with current forms and directions in teaching, research, and learning. Speakers brought a wealth of perspectives from across the humanities and special collection librarianship to bear on upon the question of the role of special collections in the digital age. Alberto Manguel powerfully evoked the drive that compels and leads the explorerbe he or she scholar or otherwiseto great labours, and to sometimes reach and cross accepted boundaries of questioning or suggestion. The personal tributes inspired by Klibansky paid fitting testimony to a man who embodied so much of this perpetual search, the search to know, the search for what it means to be human.
(See videos from the symposium)

The published volume Meetings with Books grew out of this symposium.
The book includes:

A historical survey of McGill’s special collections
Richard Virr (McGill University)

A tribute to humanist scholar and book collector Raymond Klibansky
Georges Leroux (Université de Montréal à Québec)
Désirée Park (Concordia University, Montreal and Wolfson College, Oxford)
Gerald Beasley (University of Alberta)
Ethel Groffier (Paul-André Crépeau Centre, McGill University)



Short essays on how historical book collections connect with current forms and directions in teaching, research, and learning in the digital age by:
Leslie Howsam (University of Windsor)
Fiona A. Black (Dalhousie University)
Julie E. Cumming (McGill University)
Stéfan Sinclair (McGill University)
Ann Marie Holland (McGill University)
Anna Dysert (McGill University)
Christopher Lyons (McGill University)
Jillian Tomm (McGill University)
Gregory Bouchard (McGill University)

A keynote essay by Alberto Manguel
Alberto Manguel Istanbul 2015



And interspersed with these essays, a selection of more than fifty illustrated “vignettes ” which serve to provide material context for the discussion. They illustrate variety and connections across historical collections at McGill University Library and Archives in particular, and suggest the great richness of still-potential research held in special collections libraries generally.




Printed volume: 40$ CDN. The work is also available freely as a pdf file online at McGill e-scholarship here:

Meetings with Books can be ordered from
Rare Books and Special Collections
McGill University Library
McLennan Library Building, 4th floor
3459 McTavish Street
Montreal, QC H3A 0C9

Please make your cheque out to McGill University Library, with a note “Meetings with Books.” or write us at:

Public lecture Dec. 2nd at RBSC by Craig Stephenson

This coming Tuesday, December 2nd, Dr. Craig Stephenson will give a free public lecture on his book Anteros: A Forgotten Myth.


“Anteros: A Forgotten Myth explores how the myth of Anteros disappears and reappears throughout the centuries, from classical Athens to the present day, and looks at how the myth challenges the work of Freud, Lacan, and Jung, among others. It examines the successive cultural experiences that formed and inform the myth and also how the myth sheds light on individual human experience and the psychoanalytic process.”

from the publisher (Routledge) 

About the speaker: Craig E. Stephenson, Ph.D., is a graduate of the C.G. Jung Institute Zürich, the Institute for Psychodrama (Zumikon, Switzerland), and the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex. He is the author of Possession: Jung’s Comparative Anatomy of the Psyche (Routledge, 2009), editor of a collection of essays titled Jung and Moreno: Essays on the Theatre of Human Nature (Routledge, 2013), and the translator of Luigi Aurigemma’s book of essays, Jungian Perspectives (University of Scranton Press, 2007). He has lectured at the Bodmer Foundation, Geneva, for the Philemon Foundation and at the Warburg Institute, University of London.

The talk will take place in Rare Books and Special Collections, 4th fl. McLennan Library, 3459 rue McTavish, Montreal. All are welcome. Please RSVP to

A rare edition of Voltaire

Recently, while cataloguing some volumes from the J. Patrick Lee Voltaire Collection acquired by McGill in 2013, our colleague Marc Richard discovered a very intriguing book:

“This particular edition of L’évangile de la raison was published in Year 10 of the French revolutionary calendar, a date which corresponds to either 1801 or 1802. It’s a compilation of previously published works, assembled and edited by Voltaire, and includes many works written by him. Several editions of this compilation exist; indeed, the J. Patrick Lee Collection also holds a 1765 edition of the same title.


The 1801 edition, however, is extremely rare. In fact, Georges Bengesco, who compiled the standard bibliography of Voltaire’s works, Voltaire: bibliographie de ses oeuvres, had not been able to locate it at the Bibliothèque nationale de France. The only mention of this edition in Bengesco’s authoritative listing is a reference to Antoine-Alexandre Barbier’s Dictionnaire des ouvrages anonymes, which provides a brief entry for it saying: ‘Réimprimé sous le titre de “L’évangile de la raison. Ouvrage posthume de M… D… V… et D… F…” Se trouve chez tous les imprimeurs et libraires, an X, in-8, XVI-224 pp.’


The Voltaire volumes of the Bibliothèque nationale’s Catalogue général des livres imprimés, published in 1978, do not include this edition at all, and prior to our cataloguing of this edition there was apparently no record for it in the OCLC WorldCat online database, which covers the major research libraries in North America and much of Western Europe.”

McGill’s volume confirms that this edition survives. The book is available for consultation here at RBSC, and more detailed information about it can be found in the catalogue record which Marc has prepared for it. Marc’s description makes it possible for researchers around the world to discover this copy of the volume, and our digitization team has created a full high-quality digital reproduction. The record for the physical copy can be viewed here; the full digital copy can be linked to from the e-copy record here

Formula 1 is coming to town

If the names Fangio, Hakkinen, or (of course) Villeneuve give you goosebumps, or if the name Michael brings up only one face, you are probably keenly aware of the events this coming weekend in Montreal.

As F1 comes to town, what better time to bone up on the history of motor cars and racing? Motor racing history is not the collecting focus of McGill’s Rare Books and Special Collections, but a small number of highly illustrated books offer a feast of historical reality, and some fantasy, for the enthusiast.

Those of us who miss the battle between tire manufacturers will enjoy, for example, this reproduction in the Salon de l’Automobile of 1905 of a Michelin poster celebrating the victory of a Panhard racing car against “the fastest train in the world.”

The Michelin tire beats the train! From a poster by Ernest Montaut, 1905.

The Michelin tire beats the train! From a poster by Ernest Montaut, 1905.

And the view of the future from the 19th century? How about this art nouveau–meets batman style, proposed by the American Rubber Wheel Tire Co. in Springfield Ohio (which became the Kelly-Springfield Tire Company, later bought by Goodyear), reproduced in John Grand-Carteret’s La Voiture de demain: histoire de l’automobilisme; avec 250 figures (Paris: 1898).

The Car of the Future, from a composition by the Rubber Tire Wheel Co. in the 1890s.

The Car of the Future, from a composition by the Rubber Tire Wheel Co. in the 1890s.

To get in the mood for the weekend, or to trace the ever-changing techniques of the automobile, these are but a glimpse of what you’ll find inside some RBSC books, available for consultation in the reading room.

Recent RBSC acquisitions now on display

You are heartily invited to come and discover some new additions to RBSC’s collections.

Before new RBSC acquisitions arrive to the shelf, they pass through many hands. The last stop is almost always the desk of Raynald Lepage, who verifies that everything is as it should be, and enjoys “the privilege of seeing them all.”

In the last weeks, Raynald has selected a number of the year’s acquisitions that particularly caught his attention and that form, among themselves, some interesting intellectual or visual sub-groups. They give a taste of what has come in, and we hope they will whet your appetite to see more.

Fanny Anne Burney (Mrs. Wood), Her album of pastel sketches: manuscript. 1835.

Fanny Anne Burney (Mrs. Wood), Her album of pastel sketches: manuscript. 1835.

This pastel sketch of a coastal scene is just one of the many items on display. Made by Fanny Anne Burney (or Mrs. Wood, 1812-1860), the great-niece of eighteenth-century author Frances (Fanny) Burney (1752-1840), it adds to McGill’s strong holdings on the author and her family. For more on Frances Burney see the work of McGill’s Burney Centre.

The display in our central reading room is open during regular opening hours.

Cheers to the Bard!

Title page of the Second Folio (London, 1632).

Title page of the Second Folio (London, 1632).

Some of the earliest editions of Shakespeare’s plays can be consulted in Rare Books and Special Collections, including, notably, a copy of the Second Folio (1632) of collected plays, and two copies of the Fourth Folio (1685).

Like the rarer Third Folio (1663; 1664), the Fourth Folio includes seven plays not part of the First (1623) or Second Folios, most of which are now considered spurious. This fourth and last of the great seventeenth-century folio publications of Shakespeare’s plays was an important source for later editions.

All four can be compared side-by-side in the facsimile editions produced by the London publisher Methuen in the early twentieth century.

An interesting difference between the First and Second Folios is the addition, in the latter, of a poem by John Milton about the Bard (shown below): “An epitaph on the admirable dramaticke poet, VV. Shakespeare.”

As Milton commemorated him then, we commemorate him today, on the 450th anniversary of his birth.

John Milton’s poem on Shakespeare (lower page) in the Second Folio

John Milton’s poem on Shakespeare in the Second Folio