Guide to the Research Collections

- Section -- II: -- THE HUMANITIES


The term Hispanic Literatures is here taken to include the literatures of Spain, the Spanish-speaking countries of Latin America, and Portugal and Brazil. Present resources exceed 36,000 volumes, excluding general literary periodicals. Separate statistics for the growth of the collections in Hispanic literatures are not available, but the following, which includes figures for less widely used Romance languages such as Rumanian, gives an indication of the rate of growth:

192115,796 volumes

These holdings may be characterized as a good working collection.

Peninsular Spanish Literature

Holdings of society and periodical publications are strong, with all major titles complete. Sets less commonly found include the publications of the Sociedad de Bibliófilos Espa&nmacr;oles (incomplete), Sociedad de Bibliófilos Andaluces, Cruz y raya, Razón y fe and Revista de ideas esteticas.

General critical material provides the usual bibliographic tools, including those of Raymond L. Grismer, the Hispanic Society, and José Simón Díaz. The Public Catalog lists 400 general histories of the literature, among them such standard works as those of Ticknor, Menéndez y Pelayo, Mérimée, Fitzmaurice-Kelly, and Valbuena Prat. In addition, the collections contain works of criticism on specific periods, genres, and individual authors.


Dramatic literature has received more emphasis than other literary forms. Although the Research Libraries possess no early editions of La Celestina, the major dramatic work prior to the Golden Age, they do contain one of the 200 facsimile copies of the 1499 Burgos printing, along with standard editions, English translations, and a number of critical works on the masterpiece.

Holdings of individual dramatists are strongest for Lope de Vega. The signed holograph of El Brasil restituido (1625) came to the New York Public Library from the Lenox Library, where it formed part of the Obadiah Rich collection, acquired by James Lenox about 1848. The Rich collection also contains a nineteenth-century manuscript copy of the original. In the Research Libraries are several early editions of Lope; among these are La hermosura de Angélica (1605) and Pastores de Belén (1613). Also included are some 250 individual works, with translations into Dutch, English, French, German, Polish, and Russian. The Public Catalog provides over 200 references to biographical and critical works. There are the standard studies by Rennert, Morley, and Montesinos, and a number issued in connection with the third centenary of Lope's death in 1935; the majority have appeared within the last forty years.

Calderon de la Barca is also well represented, with approximately 425 individual works recorded in the Public Catalog, some of them eighteenth-century editions. There are a dozen editions of La vida es sue&nmacr;o, with translations into English, French, German, Polish, and Russian, and numerous critical studies are also available.

Extensive holdings of Spanish plays provide special strength. Plays from older periods are generally present in modern collected editions. Between 1909 and 1911 the library acquired several thousand modern Spanish plays in large purchases; under the policy of comprehensive collecting of dramatic literature constant additions have been made. Although there are a few comedias sueltas from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and some plays published in the first half of the nineteenth century, the great majority appeared after 1850. Important figures are represented, but the chief value of the collection is its inclusion of works by many minor playwrights.

For the major contemporary figures, Benavente, Martinez Sierra, the Quintero brothers, and others, resources include, in addition to collected works and critical studies, the original editions of individual plays, English translations, and prompt-books of a number of New York productions. The Public Catalog contains more than 100 entries for works by and about García Lorca (including poetry as well as dramatic works). There are translations into French, German, and Swedish as well as English.

A collection of one-act plays and material relating to the drama in Spain came to the library from the estate of John Garrett Underhill, translator of Benavente and other contemporary playwrights. Also worthy of mention in the Manuscripts and Archives Division are the papers of Miguel de Zárraga, playwright, novelist, and editor, which cover the period 1904-25, and include letters from Jacinto Benavente, Vicente Blasco Ibá&nmacr;ez, Manuel Linares Rivas, and Ramiro de Maeztu, as well as the manuscripts of 10 of Zárraga's plays. In all, the collections of the Research Libraries contain more than 16,000 texts of Spanish plays including duplicate issues and translations.


Fiction holdings are much less extensive than dramatic, with little strength in early editions. The Cervantes collection deserves special mention, however, because the library has continued to augment its holdings since receiving in 1893 a gift from Wendell Prime of 435 volumes of early editions and translations of Don Quixote. Resources now include the first and second editions (1605), as well as numerous other early editions from Valencia, Madrid, Milan, and Brussels. The library also holds the first edition of Part II (1615). There are approximately 100 editions in Spanish from the eighteenth century to the present.

The largest number of translations of Don Quixote are into English, beginning with the first edition of the first translation by Thomas Shelton in the Berg Collection (1612). The library has

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the 1706 edition of John Stevens's revision of the Shelton translation, and first editions of translations by John Motteux (1703), Charles Jarvis (1742), Tobias Smollet (1755), and Charles Henry Wilmot (1774), as well as those of later translators such as John Ormsby and Samuel Putnam. There are approximately 100 editions of Don Quixote in English and 40 French versions, of which the two earliest (both 1625) are the fourth edition of Oudin's translation of Part I and the third edition of Rosset's translation of Part II. There are 20 German and 7 Italian translations: among other languages represented are Albanian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, Gaelic, Greek, Hebrew, Latvian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Swedish.

Worthy of mention is a group of finely printed and illustrated limited editions of Don Quixote in the Spencer Collection and the Rare Book Division. This includes the Ashendene and Nonesuch Press editions, those illustrated by Daniel Vierge, Enric Ricart, Edy Legrand, and Salvador Dali, and a copy of the 1941 Basel edition with Imre Reiner wood engravings which has proofs of sixteen wood engravings and three original drawings bound in.

Holdings of other works by Cervantes are adequate. There are more than 20 editions (including English, French, and German translations) of the Novelas exemplares, of which the earliest is the Brussels 1614 edition. About 70 issues of individual tales supplement these collections. The library owns the eighth edition of Persiles y Sigismunda, published in Paris in the same year as the first edition (1617); although the first English translation (1619) of this work is not in the collections, the second (1714) and third (1854) are. The library does have the first edition (1784) of La Numancia. Standard modern editions of all Cervantes' works are naturally available.

The Research Libraries provide excellent critical material for the study of Cervantes and his works, including runs of the Anales Cervantinos and Crónica Cervantina. Some 700 entries in the Public Catalog list general biographical and critical studies and those on special topics such as Cervantes' characters, the influence of his work in other countries, his language and philosophy. The collection contains volumes issued for the third centenary of Cervantes' death (1916) and the fourth centenary of his birth (1947). An additional 500 entries refer to Don Quixote alone. The majority of these studies are in Spanish, but other languages, especially English and French, are well represented, and the library has acquired microfilm copies of a number of dissertations on topics related to Cervantes.


Among resources for the study of modern writers are interesting materials relating to Vicente Blasco Ibá&nmacr;ez; more than 150 entries in the Public Catalog refer to works by and about him. In addition to his complete works and Spanish editions of individual novels are many translations into English, and a number into French, Italian, Lettish, and Esperanto. The library has a signed presentation copy of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and the 1941 screen adaptation by Jo Swerling of Blood and Sand. The Manuscripts and Archives Division has signed manuscripts of two Ibá&nmacr;ez stories, "La pluma del caburé" and "La vieja del cineme."


The library does not have strong collections in early editions of the classical Spanish poets; however, a good historical and critical collection includes studies by Julio Cejador y Frauca, José María de Cossío, Menéndez Pidal, Menéndez y Pelayo, Pedro Salinas, J.B. Trend, and Karl Vossler. The cancioneros are generally available in modern reprints or critical editions. The Public Catalog lists some 35 monographs on the Spanish ballad, including those by John G. Lockhart, S.G. Morley, and Menéndez Pidal. The earliest editions of Garcilaso de la Vega are from the late sixteenth century; of the Golden Age poets Góngora is best represented with the 1636 edition of Soledades and the 1654 edition of the Obras, as well as critical editions and modern studies resulting from the revival of interest occasioned by the tercentenary of his death in 1927. In general, the collection contains the standard editions of collected verse of major writers of the Golden Age and later, in addition to individual titles of nineteenth- and twentieth-century poets. Figures of secondary importance are less well represented.

Regional Literature

Catalan literature is well represented in the holdings of the Research Libraries. Among some 30 histories and critical works are those of Bertrand. Montoliu, and Riquer. For the earlier period the Public Catalog contains entries for various editions of the works of Ramón Lull, and some 80 entries for criticism of Lull.

Of the genres of Catalan literature, drama is predominant. The only recorded complete file of El nostre teatre (1934-38), each issue of which contains the text of a play, deserves mention. Included are 40 plays by Angel Guimerà, with translations into Spanish and English. The poet Jacinto Verdaguer is represented by the Obres, various individual titles, and critical material which includes a full set of the Biblioteca Verdagueriana. Among other poets, Juan Maragall, Juan Alcover y Maspons, and Miguel Costa i Llobera figure importantly in the collections. Anthologies and 4 issues of the Consistori dels jochs florals de Barcelona are complemented in the Spencer Collection by "Romansos Catalans," 102 Catalan ballad chap-books published in the mid-nineteenth century.

The collection contains about a dozen literary histories of Galicia, along with Couceiro Freijomil's Diccionario bio-bibliográfico de escritores. Sets of Biblioteca Gallega and Biblioteca Galicia, both containing a number of literary works, supplement the holdings of individual titles. There are separate and collected editions of the poems of Rosalía Castro as well as several critical studies.

The library actively acquires the literature and criticism of Andalusia, Aragon, Valencia, and other Spanish regions.


Resources in the literature of Mexico include a good collection related to Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. There are numerous early printings, notably the first editions of her complete works in 3 volumes, Inundación castalida (1689), Segundo volumen de las obras (1692), and Fama y obras

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postumas (1700). Also present are modern editions of individual works of Sor Juana, and the 4-volume Obras (1951-57). Some 50 critical and bibliographical titles, many of them issued at Sor Juana's tercentenary in 1951, provide information on Mexico's "Tenth Muse"; prominent among these are studies by Pedro Henríquez Ure&nmacr;a, Dorothy Schons, and Ermilo Abreu Gomez. The larger number of studies are by Mexican critics, although there are several from Spain, Argentina, and America.

Also well represented is the author and journalist José Joaquin Fernández de Lizardi. El periquillo sarniento, the first Mexican picaresque novel, is present in the fourth edition (1842); there are 2 additional nineteenth-century editions (1884 and 1897), several modern editions, and Katherine Anne Porter's translation, The Itching Parrot (1942). The collection contains early editions of other novels, including Don Catrín de la Fachenda (1832); Noches tristes (1819); and La quijotita y su prima (1842). There is a second edition of Fábulas (1832). Although the library possesses only scattered issues of the journal El pensador mexicano, it contains some 200 polemical pamphlets by and about Fernández de Lizardi. Dating between 1811 and 1826, these include Chamorro y Dominquín, Segunda defensa de los Francmasones, and several "dialogos de los muertos" and "sue&nmacr;os," the latter being favorite literary forms of "El Pensador." Critical materials include bibliographies by Paul Radin, a biography by Luis González Obregón, and numerous studies by Jefferson Rea Spell.

A good collection of fiction related to the Mexican Revolution is available. Holdings of novels by major figures such as Mariano Azuela, Martín Luis Guzmán, Gregorio López y Fuentes, José Mancisidor, and José Rubén Romero, are virtually complete, although the library does lack some early or privately-printed editions of those authors. Supplementing the works of these and secondary novelists are critical and bibliographical studies.

Spanish American Literature

As with peninsular Spanish literature, the library has considerable strength in general literary periodicals of the Spanish-speaking Central and South American countries. It has also assembled more than 800 general histories and critical studies of these literatures (exclusive of those dealing with specific genres and individual writers) and has acquired the standard bibliographies originally issued in the 1930s by the Harvard Council on Hispano-American Studies. The library's participation in the Latin American Cooperative Acquisition Project (LACAP) since its inception in 1960 has contributed to strengthening resources of works published since the late 1950s.

The collections of the various national literatures vary considerably in size and scope. A count of titles for the major genres of drama, essays, fiction, letters, and poetry reveals most extensive holdings for Argentina (more than 3,500 titles), Mexico (more than 2,500 titles), and Chile (more than 1,600 titles), reflecting literary and publishing trends in Latin America. The next largest collections (some 1,000 titles each) are for two small countries, Cuba and Uruguay; they are from 20 to 50 percent larger than holdings for Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela. For the remaining republics resources of belles-lettres generally range from 50 to approximately 300 titles. In every case holdings of fiction and poetry account for an estimated three-quarters of the total number of titles; plays rank third, counter to the library's generally comprehensive coverage of dramatic literature. For Chile and Mexico more works of fiction than of poetry are present, but the situation is reversed for Cuba, Peru, and Venezuela; in the cases of Argentina, Colombia, and Uruguay a nearly equal distribution prevails.

Brief observations on certain features of the largest collections follow after a comment on holdings related to Latin America's most important literary movement, modernismo, which had spread to all countries by the end of the nineteenth century. Resources on modernismo are diversely located in material classed with Spanish American literature, in general periodicals from these countries, and in other locations; taken together these holdings form a substantial body of material. Discussions of the modernist movement as a whole, stylistic analyses, published lectures, and biographical studies are abundant. While only 25 percent of the principal poetic works of the most important writers (Julián del Casal, Rubén Darío, Enrique González Martínez, Manuel Gutiérrez Nájera, Leopoldo Lugones, Amado Nervo, and others) is available in first editions, later printings and collected works provide full access to the texts. Strong holdings of studies of major figures, both monographic and serial, supply excellent critical coverage.

The largest quantity of material concerns Rubén Darío; the Public Catalog contains approximately 250 entries for works by and about him. Two of Darío's most significant volumes, Azul (1888) and Cantos de vida y esperanza (1905), are present in first editions. Other prose and poetry appear in separate volumes or as part of Darío's Obras completas. The translations of Darío's poems by Thomas Walsh and Lysander Kemp are available. Examples of critical studies are those by Max Henríquez Ure&nmacr;a, Gustavo Alemán-Bola&nmacr;os, Osvaldo Crispo Acosta, E.K. Mapes, Arturo Marasso Rocca, and Arturo Torres-Ríoseco. To these and the bibliographies by Henry Grattan Doyle and Julio Saavedra Molina numerous journal articles can be added; nevertheless, resources are best characterized as extensive rather than exhaustive.


Holdings for Argentina form the largest block of materials for a single South American country, reflecting in part literary items contained in two gift collections: 464 volumes and 303 pamphlets were received in 1914 from President Theodore Roosevelt, and some 2,000 volumes displayed in the Argentine pavilion at the 1939-40 New York World's Fair were divided between the Branch and Research Libraries. Approximately 1,500 works of fiction are concentrated in the period since 1930, although important earlier writers like Gálvez, Güiraldes, Mallea and Wast are represented. There are some 40 original titles and translations of Argentina's most famous contemporary writer, Jorge Luis Borges, along with critical monographs.

Entries in the Public Catalog for works by and about Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, Argentinean author, educator, and president, exceed 200. Included in this collection are an Obras in 53 volumes, 10 editions of La Vida de Juan Facundo Quiroga, a bibliography of the Sarmiento collection at the National University of La Plata, numerous

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biographies, and studies of Sarmiento's educational and political ideas.

Literary works inspired by the gaucho compose an interesting group of more than 100 items, including epics, novels, plays, works of criticism, and studies of gaucho folklore. Although these publications deal chiefly with the Argentine gaucho, some relate to Uruguay and to the Brazilian province of Río Grande do Sul. Editions of José Hernández's Martín Fierro and studies of that novel constitute the largest unit within this group.


The best represented work of Chilean literature is Alonso de Ercilla y Zú&nmacr;iga's La Araucana, the epic poem about the revolt of the Araucanian Indians. The Rare Book Division has the Hispanic Society facsimile of the first edition, and a number of early editions, including the first illustrated edition (1776). The Medina edition (1910-18) in five volumes is available, as are English and French translations. The contemporary poet Pablo Neruda is well represented; in addition to the Obras and translations into English there are many separate volumes of verse, and critical studied by Amado Alonso, Alfredo Cardona Pe&nmacr;a, and others.

Chilean literature is represented by a working collection. Major authors such as Alberto Blest Gana and Eduardo Barrios have received good coverage, and an adequate collection of literary histories and critical essays is available.


The history and criticism of Uruguayan literature are documented in such works as Carlos Roxlo's Historia crítica, the Historia sintética issued by the Comisión Nacional del Centenario, as well as by various studies by Alberto Zum Felde. Collections of literary works include the Biblioteca de Escritores Uruguayos. The Public Catalog contains about 100 entries related to José Enrique Rodó; included are editions of Ariel, Motivos de Proteo and other writings, a 2-volume bibliography issued by the National Library in 1930, and articles and monographs about the man and his work. Also well represented by texts and critical material is the playwright Florencio Sánchez.


Resources for Cuban literature are good. Numerous lectures given at the Academia Nacional de Artes y Letras from 1920 to the early 1950s supplement a full set of the Academia's Anales; other available sets are the Biblioteca Cubana, Grandes Periodistas Cubanos, and Universidad de la Habana series. J.M. Carbonell y Rivero's Evolución de la cultura Cubana and various studies by Juan N. José Remos y Rubio provide background.

Approximately 400 entries in the Public Catalog represent writings by and about José Martí. In addition to the 73 volume Obras completas (1936-53), several earlier collections are present. The constantly growing literature on Martí encompasses biographies, pamphlets and ephemera, microfilm copies of theses, a set of the Archivo José Martí, and numerous publications issued in Cuba and elsewhere in Latin America for Martí's centennial in 1953. The library has editions of several of Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda's plays, the Obras, 1 of the 500 copies of her Memorias inéditas (1914), and a number of modern reprints. Contemporary criticism, including studies by Emilio Cotarelo y Mori and Edwin Bucher Williams, is available.

Portuguese Literature

Resources in Portuguese literature (more than 5,000 titles, excluding serials) constitute a good working collection. The library has complete sets of the Boletim de filologia and the Revista da faculdade de letras of the University of Lisbon (neither widely held in American libraries). There are approximately 100 titles of general literary history and criticism, including the standard works by A.F.G. Bell, Theophilo Braga, Fidelino de Figueiredo, Forjaz de Sampaio, and José Sim[omacr ]es Dias.

The author most strongly represented is Luis de Camoens. The Research Libraries contain several editions of Os Lusíadas, the earliest of them dated 1597 (along with a facsimile reprint of the first edition, 1572). Although the collections lack the first English translation (1655), versions by William Julius Mickle, Richard Fanshawe, T.M. Musgrave, Leonard Bacon, William C. Atkinson and J.J. Aubertin are available; French, German, and Italian translations are held. The standard edition of Camoens' Rimas, edited by Costa Pimp[amacr ]o, may be consulted, and several editions of the Obras provide access to other works. About 100 entries in the Public Catalog refer to general monographic and serial publications about Camoens.

Eça de Queirós is represented by some 50 editions of individual works in addition to the Obras, and by some 100 publications about him, including not only Portuguese but also Brazilian and Spanish American criticism.

The library greatly enriched its resources by purchasing two collections of Portuguese drama in 1908 and 1910. This collection contains one-act plays, as well as full-length works. Although the plays range in date from the late eighteenth century to the present, nineteenth-century imprints compose approximately 90 percent of the total. Earlier playwrights are represented in a collection of material by and about Gil Vicente. Total holdings of plays number approximately 3,000 titles. Fiction and poetry are much less extensive, about 900 titles each.

A small number of novels and other works by such authors as Castro Soromenho, Fausto Duarte, and Manuel Lopes represents the literature which has developed in the Portuguese African colonies in the past twenty-five years.


The Brazilian collection compares favorably in quantity with the important university collections, although it ranks well below that of the Library of Congress.9 It possesses greater strength for the contemporary than for earlier periods. A good collection of literary history and criticism exceeds 100 titles, with numerous works by standard authors such as Manuel Bandeira, Afrânio Coutinho, José Lins do Rêgo, Samuel Putnam, and Sylvio Romero; older publications are not,

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however, always available. As an example of serial holdings there is a complete file of the Revista da Academia paulista de letras,

For individual authors the largest block, about 120 titles, contains works by and about Machado de Assis; this includes English translations of several novels. José de Alencar is represented in some 50 editions of different works.

The library holds more than 2,500 titles in Brazilian belles-lettres; of these, approximately 1,300 are fiction, 700 verse, 325 plays, and 175 essays. Holdings for the major writers Jorge Amado, Aluízio Azevedo, José Lins do Rêgo, Graciliano Ramos, Antônio de Castro Alves, and Erico Veríssimo are good, and the library has added available English translations to its copies of the originals. Numerous anthologies (several regional in scope) provide coverage for Brazilian poetry; there are several volumes of English, French, and Spanish translations. The compilations and critical studies by Manuel Bandeira deserve mention. Expansion of resources for the contemporary period in all genres is continuing on an active basis.