Contact: Craig D'Ooge (202) 707-9189

August 18, 1995

Preview Treasures French National Library

The Library of Congress will offer a press preview of a major new exhibition of treasures from the Bibliotheque nationale de France (French National Library) spanning 1200 years of French history on Tuesday, September 5 at 11 a.m. in the Great Hall of the Jefferson Building, 10 First St., SE.

Orest Ranum, professor of history at Johns Hopkins University and author of a chapter on royal libraries in the exhibition catalog, will provide an overview. Photos and slides will be available.

The exhibition, entitled "Creating French Culture," opens to the public on September 8. More than 200 rare manuscripts, books, maps, and other objects will be on display. Most have never been exhibited before outside France.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

  • An ornate 9th-century manuscript produced for the grandson of Charlemagne.
  • The first book printed in France (1470).
  • A 15th-century illuminated manuscript of Lancelot of the Lake, showing the Knights of the Round Table grouped around King Arthur.
  • The only known copy of the first edition of Pantagruel by Francois Rabelais (1531-32).
  • A fire-tinged volume from 1553 by a Christian heretic who was burned at the stake.
  • Two sonatas published by Mozart when he was 7 years old.
  • Marie Antoinette's copy of the Constitution of the Thirteen United States of America published at the behest of Benjamin Franklin.
  • Napoleon's own copy of the Code Napoleon, the foundation for modern civil law.
  • Emile Zola's manuscript of J'Accuse indicting the military establishment in defending Dreyfus.
  • An autographed manuscript of a section of Marcel Proust's novel A la recherche du temps perdu.
  • A signed pastel with charcoal of dancers by Edgar Degas, undated.
  • Existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre's manuscript of Nausea.
  • A handwritten manuscript from Charles de Gaulle's War Memoirs describing his meeting with President Roosevelt.

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PR 95-115
ISSN 0731-3527

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