Shakespeare First Folio found in French library

Shakespeare First Folio found in French library

The book – one of only 230 believed to still exist – had lain undisturbed in library at Saint-Omer for 200 years

The First Folio found in Saint-Omer library

Although the book, originally believed to contain 300 pages, has around 30 pages missing and no title page, it will still be the centrepiece of the French library’s exhibition next summer. Photograph: Denis Charlet/AFP/Getty Images

A rare and valuable William Shakespeare First Folio has been discovered in a provincial town in France.

The book – one of only 230 believed to still exist – had lain undisturbed in the library at Saint-Omer in the north of France for 200 years.

Medieval literature expert Rémy Cordonnier was searching for books to use in a planned exhibition of “Anglo-Saxon” authors when he stumbled across the 1623 tome in September.

Cordonnier, a librarian, said that at first he had no idea that the battered book in his hands was a treasure.

“It had been wrongly identified in our catalogue as a book of Shakespeare plays most likely dating from the 18th century,” he said on Tuesday. “I didn’t instantly recognise it as a book of value. It had been heavily used and was damaged. It had seen better days.”

Cordonnier contacted one of the world’s most eminent authorities on Shakespeare, Prof Eric Rasmussen of the University of Nevada in Reno, who – as luck would have it – was in London working at the British Library.

“He was very interested by the elements I had sent him by mail and said he would come over and take a look. He identified it as a First Folio very quickly,” said Cordonnier.

Although the book, originally believed to contain 300 pages, has around 30 pages missing and no title page, it will still be the centrepiece of the French library’s exhibition next summer.

“One of the most interesting things about the book is that the Henry IV play has clearly been performed because there are notes and directions on the pages that we believe date from around the time the book was produced,” Cordonnier said.

The First Folio, entitled Mr William Shakespeares (sic) Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies, was edited and published in 1623 – seven years after the author died – by his colleagues John Heminges and Henry Condell. It included almost all of the plays widely accepted to have been written by Shakespeare and is credited with being the reason his literary legacy survived.

In the 16th century, Saint-Omer was home to an important Jesuit order that welcomed Roman Catholic clergy fleeing Protestant persecution in England. The First Folio discovered in the town is thought to have been brought to France during that era and held in the Jesuit library until the French Revolution when the order’s collection was confiscated and used as the basis for a public library.

Cordonnier says the Shakespeare First Folio will be a “treasure among many treasures” at the Saint-Omer library that holds a collection of 50,000 books and manuscripts dating from the 7th to the 19th century. The library also holds one of only 48 existing copies or partial copies of the 15th century Gutenberg Bible, one of the world’s most valuable books.

The First Folio will not go on general display, but will be scanned so it can be consulted on the library website and will be available for other libraries and museums to borrow, he said.

El gran dictador

Tan real, tan actual… Maravilloso monólogo final de Chaplin en El gran dictador (The Great Dictator).

[Chaplin/Barber speech; the humble character is mistaken for Adenoid Hynkel, conqueror of Osterlitz (the Mussolini character, played by Jack Oakie, suggests Napoleon, but calling Austria Osterlitz fuses Austria with the Battle of Austerlitz:]

I’m sorry, but I don’t want to be an Emperor, that’s not my business. I don’t want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible, Jew, gentile, black man, white. We all want to help one another, human beings are like that. We all want to live by each other’s happiness, not by each other’s misery. We don’t want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone and the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful.
But we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men’s souls, has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in; machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge has made us cynical, our cleverness hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity, more than cleverness we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these inventions cries out for the goodness in men, cries out for universal brotherhood for the unity of us all.
Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me I say: do not despair. The misery that is now upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass and dictators will die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people and so long as men die liberty will never perish. Soldiers: don’t give yourselves to brutes, men who despise you and enslave you, who
regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel, who drill you, diet you, treat you as cattle, as cannon fodder! Don’t give yourselves to these unnatural men, machine men, with machine minds and machine hearts. You are not machines! You are not cattle! You are men!! You have the love of humanity in your hearts. You don’t hate, only the unloved hate. The unloved and the unnatural.
Soldiers: don’t fight for slavery, fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of Saint Luke it is written: –“The kingdom of God is within man.” Not one man, nor a group of men, but in all men: in you! You the people have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness. You the people have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then, in the name of democracy, let us use that power, let us all unite! Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give you the future and old age and security. By the
promise of these things, brutes have risen to power, but they lie. They do not fulfil their promise, they never will. Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people.
Now let us fight to fulfil that promise. Let us fight to free the world, to do away with national barriers, to do away with greed, with hate and intolerance. Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to all men’s happiness. Soldiers! In the name of democracy: let us all unite!”

[end Jewish Barber speech]

En español:

Lo siento.

Pero yo no quiero ser emperador. Ese no es mi oficio, yo no quiero mandar ni conquistar a nadie. Quisiera ayudar a todos si fuera posible. Judíos, gentiles, negros, blancos… Todos queremos ayudarnos los unos a los otros; los seres humanos somos así. Queremos hacer felices a los demás, no hacernos desgraciados. No queremos odiar ni despreciar a nadie. En este mundo hay sitio para cada uno de nosotros y nuestra Tierra es rica y puede alimentarnos a todos. El camino de la vida puede ser libre y hermoso, pero hemos perdido el rumbo. La codicia ha envenenado el alma del hombre, ha dividido al Mundo con barricadas de odio, nos ha sumergido en la desgracia y en un baño de sangre.

Hemos progresado muy deprisa, pero nos hemos encarcelado a nosotros mismos. El maquinismo, que crea abundancia, nos deja en la necesidad. Nuestro conocimiento nos ha hecho cínicos. Nuestra inteligencia, duros y desconsiderados. Pensamos demasiado, sentimos muy poco. Más que máquinas necesitamos más humanidad. Más que inteligencia, tener cortesia y bondad. Sin estas cualidades la vida será violenta y todo estará perdido.

Los aviones y la radio nos hacen sentirnos más cercanos. La verdadera naturaleza de estos inventos clama por lo bueno que hay en el hombre, clama por la fraternidad universal y la unión de nuestras almas.

Ahora mismo, mi voz llega a millones de seres en todo el mundo, millones de hombres desesperados, mujeres y niños, víctimas de un sistema que lleva al hombre a torturar y encarcelar inocentes. Para aquellos que puedan oirme les digo: no deseperéis. La desgracia que nos aqueja es tan solo la muerte de la codicia y el resentimiento de hombres que temen el progreso de la especie humana.

El odio pasará y dictadores morirán, y el poder que le arrebataron al pueblo volverá al pueblo, y así, mientras los hombres den la vida por ella, la libertad no perecerá.


No os sometais a las bestias, hombres que os desprecian y esclavizan, que en nada valoran vuestras vidas y os dicen qué tenéis que hacer, qué decir y qué sentir. Os tratan como a ganado y como inutil carne de cañón. No os entreguéis a estos individuos inhumanos, hombres máquina, con cerebros y corazones de máquina.

Vosotros no sois máquinas, no sois ganado, sois Hombres. Lleváis el amor de la Humanidad en vuestros corazones, no el odio. Sólo los que no aman odian, los que no aman y los inhumanos.


No luchéis por la esclavitud, luchad por la libertad. El el capítulo 17 de San Lucas se lee: «El Reino de Dios no está en un hombre…» No en un hombre ni en un grupo de hombres, sino en todos los hombres. Y vosotros, el pueblo, vosotros tenéis el poder. El poder de crear máquinas, el poder de crear felicidad. Vosotros, el pueblo, teneis el poder de hacer esta vida libre y hermosa, de hacer de esta vida una aventura maravillosa.

Entonces, en nombre de la democracia, utilicemos ese poder actuando todos unidos. Luchemos por un mundo nuevo, un mundo decente que dé a los hombres la oportunidad de trabajar, a la juventud un futuro y a la vejez seguridad.

Fue bajo la promesa de estas cosas que las bestias subieron al poder. Pero mintieron; nunca han cumplido sus promesas y nunca las cumplirán. Los dictadores se hacen libres sólo a ellos mismos, pero esclavizan al pueblo.

Luchemos ahora para hacer realidad lo prometido. Luchemos todos para liberar al mundo. Para derribar barreras nacionales, para eliminar la codicia, el odio y la intolerancia. Luchemos por un mundo en que reine la razón. Un mundo donde la ciencia, el progreso, nos conduzca a todos a la felicidad.


En nombre de la democracia, debemos unirnos todos.

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