Library of Congress Hispanic and Portuguese Collections: An
 Illustrated Guide
Previous Table of Contents Next

Literature and Philosophy

The Library of Congress possesses extensive holdings in Hispanic and Portuguese literature and philosophy. The literature collection provides a wide range of published works for the researcher, from the earliest printed materials in the United States and abroad to present-day publications. Highlighting the collection are the holdings in the ARCHIVE OF HISPANIC LITERATURE ON TAPE, the extensive collection of poetry and prose for the vast period of literary output from the works of Cervantes to the "boom" writers of Latin America, the materials related to Nobel Prize recipients, and works of philosophy.

The ARCHIVE OF HISPANIC LITERATURE ON TAPE is an evolving repository of poetry and prose recordings by Luso-Hispanic literary figures, from the 1940s to the present, located in the Hispanic Division. The collection began in 1942 when the noted Uruguayan poet Emilio Oribe read a poem dedicated to Archibald MacLeish in the Library of Congress Recording Laboratory. Largely with generous monetary grants provided by the Rockefeller Foundation from 1958 to 1961, the archive was expanded to include recordings made abroad expressly for the collection. This unique collection contains tape recordings of well over 650 writers reading selections from their own works in Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, French, Quechua, Náhuatl, English, Guarani, and Zapotec, as well as accompanying interviews and commentaries.

Practically all of the outstanding literary figures and outstanding writers from the Caribbean and numerous Hispanic and Portuguese authors, as well as Hispanic American writers of the past fifty years are represented. Several Nobel Prize recipients appear, including Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda (Chile), Miguel Angel Asturias (Guatemala), Vicente Aleixandre, Juan Ramón Jiménez, and Camilo José Cela (Spain), Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia), Octavio Paz (Mexico), and many other famous writers, such as José Luis Borges, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, bibliophile José E. Mindlin, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jorge Amado, and Rachel de Queiroz.

Thumbnail image of Calavera Don
Quijote y Sancho Panza "Calavera Don Quijote y Sancho Panza" ca. 1905. José Guadalupe Posada. Monografia. Las obras de José Guadalupe Posada, grabador mexicano, con introducción de Diego Rivera. Mexico, Mexican folkways, 1930. The noted Mexican artist Posada, during a very creative life, devoted his energies to producing works of satire of contemporary figures, especially politicians, and translating legendary figures into a world of skeletons and skulls. Posada's drawings paralleled the revolutionary awakening that would transform Mexican art as well as its politics. Additional original works and even printing plates of Posada are found in the Library's Prints and Photographs Division. Posada's calavera of Don Quixote is one of his best prints, displaying prodigious movement. The work clearly shows that even noted literary works were not spared the pen of the Mexican artist. (Rosenwald Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division)

The ARCHIVE contains documentation of distinctive regional dialects and speech patterns and of social criticism voiced by many writers. The noted Spanish author Juan Goytisolo penned an obituary of Francisco Franco on the day that the Spanish ruler died. The following day he recorded it for the ARCHIVE OF HISPANIC LITERATURE ON TAPE, during his visit to the Library of Congress, before anyone else had a chance to read it. Reference tapes for the collection are housed in the Hispanic Division, with supplemental notebooks containing lists and texts of the selections read. A published guide describes the collection, providing biographic and bibliographic information on each writer in the ARCHIVE at the time of the publication.

Thumbnail image of  Pablo Neruda.
Photograph. Pablo Neruda. Photograph. [1966]. For over two decades the Chilean Pablo Neruda was one of the most-quoted poets in the Spanish language, for whom admiration amounted to worship and disapproval to excoriation. In 1971 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature; he died in the fall of 1973 in Santiago, Chile. He is pictured here during his recording session in the Library of Congress on June 20, 1966. (Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape, Hispanic Division)

The poetry and prose collection of Latin America's first Nobel Prize for literature recipient, Gabriela Mistral, is found in the Manuscript Division on more than twenty-five reels of microfilm. Mistral is representative of the numerous Luso-Hispanic authors who have become highly acclaimed as regional and world class writers.

The still expanding collection of works by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (1547-1616), the most important writer of Renaissance Spain and one of the most eminent writers of world literature, reflects the sustained interest of the scholarly community in his work. Nearly a thousand examples of his literary output are listed in Works by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra in the Library of Congress (1994), including translations of his work into thirty-three languages including Bulgarian, Chinese, Lithuanian, Marathi, Norwegian, Oriya, Tajik, and Uzbek. In addition to copies of his works in Thomas Jefferson's collection, the Library's holdings are enhanced by twentieth-century donations from Leonard Kebler, found now in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

The tradition of epic poetry in the Hapsburg period, which influenced later forms of prose chronicle and narrative and political verse, is highlighted by the outstanding 1597 edition of Alonso de Ercilla's La Araucana (regarding Spanish conflict with the native peoples of Chile) and the 1589 edition of Juan de Castellanos narrative poem Primera parte de las elegías de varones illustres de indias, both located in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

Over 8,100 Spanish plays, published in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, were received from the Hispanic Society of America in 1938 shortly before the opening of the Hispanic Division. This SPANISH PLAY COLLECTION (now on 161 reels of microfilm in the Microform Reading Room) contains works published principally in Madrid and Barcelona after 1850 and includes those by lesser-known Spanish authors and regional pieces in Catalan and Galician. Drama, comedy, and zarzuela (musicals) are well represented. Among the authors in this collection are Carlos Arniches y Bamera, Joaquin Dicenta Benedicto, Antonio García Gutiérrez, Antonio Gil y Zarate, and Ricardo de la Vega.

Thumbnail image of   Gabriela Mistral.
Photograph Gabriela Mistral. Photograph. [1950s]. The Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral holds the distinction of being the first Hispanic American to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, conferred upon her in Stockholm on November 15, 1945. She established residence in New York City in the 1950s and served as the Chilean delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women until her death on January 10, 1957. In addition to her recordings and printed works, a large microform collection of her personal papers is located in the Library's Manuscript Division. (Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape, Hispanic Division)

Complementing this collection is the SPANISH DRAMA OF THE GOLDEN AGE: THE COMEDIA COLLECTION IN THE UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA LIBRARIES COLLECTION (on eighty-six reels of microfilm in the Microform Reading Room). It contains nearly three thousand early editions by more than two hundred Spanish Golden Age authors, including Calderón de la Barca, Cervantes, Gongora, Lope de Vega, Pérez de Montalvan, Roja Zorrilla, Mira de Americua, Moneto y Cabanar, Gabriel Tellez, Velez de Guevara, Zamora, and Lope de Rueda.

The Rare Book and Special Collections Division houses the REPOSITORIO CAMONEANO assembled by Carlos da Silva and published in 1880-1881. The collection comprises monographs, periodicals, newspaper literature, manuscripts, catalogs, and clippings gathered in honor of the tercentenary of the Portuguese poet Luis de Camões.

The PORTUGUESE MANUSCRIPTS COLLECTION was purchased in 1927 and 1929. It is part of the nucleus of the Library of Congress's collections in Portuguese history and literature and is an important group of documents in the Manuscript and in the Rare Book and Special Collections Divisions. The Archive of Folk Culture, in the American Folklife Reading Room, houses a large collection of literatura de cordel, ephemeral chapbooks, small books containing ballads, tales or tracts, found in northeastern Brazil. The Library of Congress's holdings of this unique material, initiated by Sol Biderman, has swollen to well over five thousand items.

Researchers have at their disposal comprehensive literature bibliographies and such vital reference works as the editions of Antonio Palau y Dulcet's Manual del Librero Hispano-Americano, the most important work on Luso-Hispanic publishing. The Library has the Seminario Erudito of Antonio de Valladares y Sotomayor and Juan Semper y Guarinos's four-volume Biblioteca económico-política (Madrid 1801-1821) and his six-volume Ensayo de una biblioteca española de los mejores escritores del reynado de Carlos III (Madrid 1785-1789).

The ideas of the twentieth-century Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset are found in a massive eighty-two-reel microfilm collection (in the Manuscript Division) of his manuscripts, notes, and correspondence. In the late 1970s the Hispanic Division worked directly with the Ortega Foundation (Madrid) to develop a preservation copy microfilm of the Ortega y Gasset Archive, helping to arrange the original materials in the process. José Ortega y Gasset, author of such works as España invertebrada (1922) and La rebelión de las masas (1929), was Spain's best known contemporary philosopher. General works in the Library on natural philosophy range from Fray Vicente de Burgos's El libro de proprietatibus rerum (Toulouse, 1494) and Alvaro Gutiérez de Torres's very early encyclopedia of natural history El sumario de las maravillosas y espantables cosas que en el mundo han acontescido (1524), in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division, and works by Bartolomé de las Casas and Juan de Zumárraga in the Manuscript Division, to recent publications on liberation theology, Umbanda, and the Opus Dei in the general collections of the Library of Congress, and other conflicting philosophies of social movements in the Luso-Hispanic world.

Thumbnail image of Picasso, con pinturas
ineditas de la cueva de
     Nerja.  Picasso, con pinturas ineditas de la cueva de Nerja. Vicente Aleixandre. Malaga, El Guadalhorce, 1961. The Nobel Prize-recipient Spanish poet, Vicente Aleixandre, and the noted Spanish artist Pablo Picasso collaborated with their creative genius to provide simple reflections on the incredibly significant paleolithic period cave drawings found near Nerja, Malaga, Spain. Aleixandre recorded for the Library's Archive of Hispanic Literature on Tape. (Rare Book and Special Collections Division)

The SERIE CONFLICTO RELIGIOSO (from Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia/INAH) is a fifty-two-reel microfilm collection of twentieth-century printed and manuscript materials on the social history of Catholicism in Mexico. Located in the Microform Reading Room, this collection contains speeches, correspondence, books, pamphlets, historical studies, minutes, newspaper and magazine articles, memoirs, reports, and bulletins addressing social, political, and military history, the founding of the Knights of Columbus in Mexico, the Cristero movement, sexual education, relations with the United States, and organized labor. From the writings of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries on millenarianism and utopianism exacerbated by Europe's initial introduction to American societies to the more modern period, in which social reformers experimented with positivism, socialism, anarchism, and the thinking of the Peruvian Sendero Luminoso, opportunities abound for rewarding research in literary and philosophical studies.

Thumbnail image of  Adoration of the
Magi.  Adoration of the Magi. Juan de Torquemada. Meditationes seu Contemplationes devotissimae. Mainz 1479. The three magi in this illustration from a devotional book of 1479 suggest the opulence and splendor of African and Asian potentates as imagined by Europeans of the late Middle Ages. Born in Valladolid, Cardinal Juan de Torquemada (1388-1468), one of the great intellects of the Catholic Church in the fifteenth century and named the Defender of the Faith by Pope Eugene IV in 1437, was a strong defender of Renaissance artists. He introduced printing to Italy. The Dominican Juan de Torquemada is not to be confused with Tomás de Torquemada, the Inquisitor General of Spain. (Rosenwald Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division)
Previous Table of Contents Next

Hispanic Reading Room

Library of Congress Home Page

Library of Congress Library of Congress
Comments: Ask a Librarian ( July 15, 2010 )
Legal | External Link Disclaimer