Sunday, January 07, 2007

Hogarth and Defoe at the BPL

I finally managed to get my act together and stopped by the Boston Public Library yesterday to see "Crooks, Rogues, & Maids Less Than Virtuous: Books in the Streets of 18th-Century London," a new exhibit jointly mounted by the BPL and UMASS Boston. Centered around the library's William Trent Collection of Defoe and Defoeana (displayed publicly for the first time here), the exhibit examines the genesis of the novel in the book culture of London.

Aside from the (many) early editions of Defoe's works (and some by Swift and Pope as well), the exhibit also includes some excellent broadside examples, sensational and salacious pamphlets and fantastical travel accounts (including a lovely edition of Psalmanazar's history of Formosa). Several Hogarth prints enhance the cases and complement the texts nicely.

Highly recommended if you're in the Boston area.


MMcM said...

The Psalmanazar was the highlight for me, with its fold-out alphabet and its history of the relationship between the Japanese and Chinese languages. The text of that chapter is online here. The characters along the left margin on that page are from his "Formoſan" alphabet.

JBD said...

I agree, I thought the Psalmanazar was an excellent piece (but then, I'm a little obsessed with the guy). Thanks for that link!