Friday 22 April 2016

Canada Book Day 2016

Tomorrow is Canada Book Day, which coincides with UNESCO's World Book and Copyright Day, an annual celebration to promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright.

April 23rd was chosen for its significance to world literature. Both William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes died on April 23, 1616, making this year the 400th anniversary of their deaths. It is also the birth or death date of several other international authors.

In honour of Canada Book Day, we offer selections from the Sol and Morton Eisen Book Collection, which was donated to the Archdiocese in 2010. 

Sol Eisen (1898-1974) was a Toronto lawyer and rare book collector who specialized in Americana, Mexicana, Canadiana and early printing. Sol Eisen's Canadiana collection was donated to the University of Waterloo in 1992. The majority of the books donated to ARCAT relate to the history of the Church and Sol's son, Morton Eisen, wanted to return them to a Catholic repository.

Sol and Morton Eisen Book Collection
Cartilla Y Doctrina Christiana by Fray Bartholomé Roldán, O.P., Mexico, 1580

Example of the "Ex Libris Sol Eisen" bookplate attached inside many of the books' covers. Eisen's collecting focus included Mexicana.
This is one of eleven books in the collection that were not digitized because they were too fragile for scanning equipment.

Digitization of thirty-one books was generously sponsored by the John M. Kelly Library; they are available through The remaining eleven books in the collection were deemed too fragile or stiffly bound for the scanning equipment to be used safely on them. 

Sol and Morton Eisen Book Collection
Breviloquium of St. Bonaventure, Venice, 1472

Four of the books in the collection are incunabula, which means "from the cradle" or infancy of printing, specifically those printed in Europe before 1501. The Breviloquium is the earliest book in the collection and an example of Bonaventure's classic writings on theology and prayer.

St. Bonaventure (1221-1274) was a pivotal figure in the early development of the Franciscan Order and of the entire Western Church. A contemporary of St. Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure studied and taught at the University of Paris. As Master General of the Order in the years after the death of St. Francis, he was crucial to the developments that made the Franciscans one of the most active and influential teaching, service and missionary orders in the Catholic Church. Later named a Cardinal by Pope Gregory X, he played a major part in the union of the Eastern and Western Churches at the Council of Lyon (1274).  He was named a Doctor of the Church in 1587.    

Sol and Morton Eisen Book Collection
De Psalmodia Christiana Y Sermonario De Los Sanctos Del Ano by Bernardino de Sahagún, Mexico, 1583

This is considered the most valuable book in the collection. It is a first edition written almost entirely in Nahuatl by Franciscan Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (1499-1590). De Sahagún, a Spanish Franciscan missionary in Mexico, wrote catechetical and liturgical books in the language of the Aztec people to whom he ministered. Famous in Mexico and among historians and other social scientists of the Americas, he is also often called the first ethnographer, since he did a broad and systematic study, by interviews with Aztec people, of the culture, social structure, art, religion and other key aspects of their society prior to European contact.  

Sol and Morton Eisen Book Collection
Arte De La Lengua Mexicana con la Declaracion De Los Adverbios Della...,by Padre Horacio Carochi, Mexico, 1645

This first edition by Jesuit priest Horacio Carochi, Rector of the College of Saint Peter and St. Paul de Mexico, is an academic teaching tool in the Nahuatl Aztec language itself. 

Sol and Morton Eisen Book Collection
Viage De Jerusalen Que Hizo Francisco Guerrero, Racionero, y Maestro de Capilla de la Santa Iglesia de Sevilla by Francisco Guerrero , Seville, 1694

This is a travel memoir through Jerusalem written by a 70-year-old Spaniard who had had a highly significant career as chapel master and composer of sacred music.  First published in 1590, the book being republished in 1694.

Its stiff leather cover and bindings made this book too difficult to digitize.

Why not celebrate Canada Book Day by visiting the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library? To mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death, the library is holding a special opening of  the exhibition So long lives this’: A Celebration of Shakespeare’s Life and WorksHighlights include a selection of Shakespeare's printed plays and poems from the library's collection.

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