Authorial and scholarly vestiges in our libraries   2 comments

Some years ago I decided to look for a copy of Paul de Lagarde’s (1827-1891) edition of the Syriac Geoponica. I found a copy from a used book dealer in Germany and bought it for a relatively modest cost, as I recall. I was, however, astonished to find this writing at the beginning:

Lagarde apparently sent the book as a gift to the great Theodor Nöldeke (1836-1930), whose textual annotations fill this slim volume. Little notes like this are good reminders of the organic nature of scholarship. The scholars, some of whose works we still scrutinize and even, especially in Nöldeke’s case, may consider as standards, are not mere names passed down from one generation of scholars to the next. Their hands touched books ours can touch, they read them with their eyes, annotated them with their pens. While it is always a treat to find inscriptions like these in electronic copies available online — I’ve seen the names of William Wright and Étienne Quatrmère, among others — holding a physical book in one’s hands is even better.

At the library here at Saint John’s I noticed another of Lagarde’s books with a notable past of ownership, this one two times over. This copy of his Symmicta belonged to both Arthur Jeffery (1892-1959), known especially for his Materials for the History of the Text of the Qurʾān: The Old Codices (Leiden, 1937) and The Foreign Vocabulary of the Qurʾān (Baroda, 1938), and to Leo Jung (1892-1987), an outstanding figure of Orthodox Judaism in America.

Finally, among HMML’s bountiful collection of Ethiopian studies materials is a copy of The Chronicle of King Theodore of Abyssinia (የቴዎድሮስ፡ታሪክ። yä-Tewodros tarik), an Amharic text edited by Enno Littmann (1875-1958). HMML’s copy was a gift of the author to Robert Garrett (1875-1961), whose name will be known to some readers for his manuscript donations to Princeton University. This copy, no. 23 of only 25, is even more interesting because the gift inscription is in Gǝʿǝz (za-tawǝhba la-Robǝrt Garrǝt ǝmmǝna Ǝnno Litman)! Incidentally, we are reminded in Littmann’s preface that Nöldeke himself had twenty years prior also copied out the same Berlin manuscript that Littmann used.

See further on the individuals named above:

John S. Badeau, Eric F.F. Bishop, and Frederick C. Grant, “Arthur Jeffery — A Tribute,” The Muslim World 50 (1960): 49-54.

Hubert Kaufhold, “Nöldeke, Theodor,” in Sebastian Brock, Aaron Butts, George Kiraz, and Lucas Van Rompay, eds., Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage (Piscataway, 2011).

Michael Kleiner, “Littmann, Enno,” in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, vol. 3 (Wiesbaden, 2007), pp. 588-590.

Enno Littmann, “Autobiographical Sketch,” [in German] in The Library of Enno Littmann, with an Introduction by Maria Höfner (Leiden, 1959).

Ludwig Schemann, Paul de Lagarde. Ein Lebens- und Erinnerungsbild (Leipzig, 1920).

Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje, “Theodor Nöldeke,” ZDMG 85 (1931): 239-281.

Lucas Van Rompay, “de Lagarde, Paul Anton,” in Sebastian Brock, Aaron Butts, George Kiraz, and Lucas Van Rompay, eds., Gorgias Encyclopedic Dictionary of the Syriac Heritage (Piscataway, 2011).

Rainer Voigt, “Nöldeke, Theodor,” in Encyclopaedia Aethiopica, vol. 3 (Wiesbaden, 2007), p. 1195.

Anaïs Wion, “Collecting manuscripts and scrolls in Ethiopia: The missions of Johannes Flemming (1905) and
Enno Littmann (1906),” available here.

2 responses to “Authorial and scholarly vestiges in our libraries

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  1. That’s very nice. I quite agree that making such tactile connections produce there own little zing of excitement. A favorite one in my collection is Douglas Bush’s short biography on Keats that is both inscribed to and dedicated to his younger Harvard colleague and Keats expert Walter Jackson Bate. Bush was Bate’s mentor and PhD advisor, and it’s nice to own a tangible symbol of the respect that the older scholar had for his pupil and later colleague.

  2. Pingback: Enno Littmann’s work on inscriptions from Ethiopia « hmmlorientalia

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