Tag Archives: utopia

New Acquisitions: Tarzan, Batman, and Alien Invaders, En Français

CorreaWarWorlds1In June and July we’re celebrating the beginning of a new fiscal year by highlighting new acquisitions from the past year. All of these amazing resources will be available for today’s scholars, and for future generations of researchers in the Rubenstein Library! Today’s post features new items in the Library’s Negley Collection of Utopian Literature and its comic book collections. Check out additional posts in the series here.

One of the most influential books in science fiction history, H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, was an immediate sensation upon its publication in 1898.  Famously adapted for radio, film, and television, the work received perhaps its most beautiful visual interpretation in the limited edition of Henry Davray’s French translation, La Guerre des Mondes, published in Brussels in 1906 with stunning illustrations by Henrique Alvim Corrêa.

The book features 32 plates as well as over 100 illustrations within the text.  Corrêa, a Brazilian painter and illustrator who lived in Belgium for most of his life, captured the intensity, grand scope, and wonder of Wells’s vision of interplanetary invasion in his atmospheric, energetic compositions.


tarzan1Another new acquisition demonstrates, in a different format, the burgeoning global appeal of genre fiction adapted to visual form in the twentieth century.  A complete run of 293 issues of Tarzan, a comics series published in Paris between 1946 and 1952, features the adventures of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s famous creation in vivid color.

The first 71 issues also feature a French adaptation of the newspaper comic strip featuring Batman, La Chauve-Souris (The Bat), by the famous French science fiction illustrator, René Brantonne.   These American adaptations ran alongside comics adaptations of French classics such as Les Miserables.

The Rubenstein Library now holds the only known copy of this periodical in the United States, which appears to be very rare in institutional holdings even in France.

A French adventure of Batman and Robin. dressed as Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette.
A French adventure of Batman and Robin. dressed as Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette.


An Anonymous Author Unveiled, 125 Years Later

Title Page of The Fall of the Great Republic
Title Page of The Fall of the Great Republic.

It’s not often that we acquire two copies of the same work at the Library.  Sometimes, however, a second copy can have unique characteristics that make it nearly irresistible—as in the case of a copy of The Fall of the Great Republic recently acquired for the Glenn R. Negley Collection of Utopian Literature, which may have solved the 125-year-old mystery of its author’s identity.

A well-known anti-socialist and xenophobic dystopian work published in 1885 and foretelling the demise of the United States, the book was published under the pseudonym Henry Standish Coverdale.   The copy now at Duke seems to establish the author as New Lebanon, N.Y. newspaperman Abner Hitchcock (1851-1936).  The volume comes from his library, bears the ownership signature “Hitchcock,” and includes a penciled note in the rear, dated from August 1924, stating that “Authorship [was] kept a complete secret.”

The specially-bound volume contains clippings and reviews of the work from across East and parts of the Midwest, including a suspiciously positive review from the Boston Journal, a paper for which Hitchcock wrote.   Of the various reviews, the owner has written in the volume: “The most striking thing about it is in the illustration the pasted-in comments give of the impression it made on different readers. – One sees in me an ass, and one a prophet. I suspect there is some basis for both judgements.”

Clippings pasted into The Fall of the Great Republic
Clippings pasted into The Fall of the Great Republic.

The volume was discovered by a bookseller cleaning out of the attic of the Hitchcock House in New Lebanon, now a bed-and-breakfast inn.  It has now found its permanent home at Duke, where it will remain a one-of-a-kind resource for future generations of scholars.

Special thanks to Garrett Scott for permission to quote from his description of this item.

Post contributed by Will Hansen, Assistant Curator of Collections.

A Glorious Revolution

Early in Gloriana; or The Revolution of 1900, a rare 1890 novel recently acquired by the RBMSCL, the heroine, twelve-year-old Gloria de Lara, stands on the seashore, plotting:

“I was imagining the foam flakelets to be girls . . . and I looked upon them as my audience. I told them . . . of all the wrongs that girls and women have to suffer, and then I bade them rise as one to right these wrongs. I told them all I could think of to show them how to do so, and then I told them that I would be their leader, and lead them to victory or die. And the wavelets shouted. . . . I seemed to hear them cheer me on, I seemed to see them rising into storm, the wind uprose them, and their white foam rushed towards me, and I seemed to see in this sudden change the elements of a great revolution.”

Years later, posing as a man named Hector l’Estrange, Gloria wins a seat in Britain’s Parliament . . . and you’ll just have to visit the RBMSCL and read the book to find out the rest.

Lady Florence Dixie
Lady Florence Dixie. From the Illustrated London News, March 1883.

The novel’s author, Lady Florence Dixie, was a prominent travel writer and advocate for women’s rights. At her death in 1905, British women were denied the right to vote. 92 years ago today, the Representation of the People Act, which granted voting rights to women over 30, received Royal Assent.

The book joins the Glenn Negley Collection of Utopian Literature as an especially interesting example of feminist utopian writing.