The Gems

LibraryThe Gems

“But the pearls don’t make the necklace, the thread does.”

Gustave Flaubert, 31 January 1852

The collection’s gems in just a few words:

The core collection of the library is made up of some 200 Western manuscripts and about one hundred Eastern ones, around 2000 autograph documents and 270 incunabula (a tenth of which are Rara and Unica). Rare printed works also figure among the Bodmer’s treasures, with several thousand original editions dating from the 16th to the 20th century. These masterpieces include several copies of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the “Dantean corpus” with three 14th century manuscripts of the Commedia and a remarkable series of incunabula, manuscripts of works by Virgil and Thomas Aquinas, Goethe’s Faust II (400 verses in the author’s hand) and over a thousand editions of the drama, the corpus of the Bodmer Papyri (around 1800 pages in Coptic and Greek on Christian and pagan subjects), the Lope de Vega collection (autograph documents, editiones principes, 44 volumes of the first reprinting of the plays), Shakespeare (the complete first editions, viz., the first folios, 60 quarto editions, the 1609 Sonnets, the apocrypha), and Molière (the first editions of practically all the plays), manuscripts featuring the writings of Flavius Josephus, the Roman de la Rose, and Sa’di’s Gulistan, first editions such as the Gutenberg Bible, Luther’s Theses, or Newton’s Principia mathematica annotated by Leibniz, and hundreds of documents in the hand of Hölderlin, Mozart, Beethoven, Napoleon, Valéry, Borges, and many others.

For more of the story:

The ancient world  |  The Christian era Islam  |  Middle Ages & Renaissance
The Far East  |  The Golden Age  |  Enlightenment and the Revolution
The Sciences | Napoleon & European Romanticism | Modernities & upheavals