Sunday, September 18, 2016

Libations at the Library 2016, Another Wonderful Event

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” 
― Jorge Luis Borges

Last night the Duluth Public Library once again hosted its annual Learning & Libations at the Library, an event that combines fundraising with hobnobbing, wine and entertaining educators. By "entertaining educators" I mean local presenters of information on various themes related to our Northland, from the Locally Laid story to Old & New World Wines to the Gardens of Glensheen to Wandering Through September. I myself attended Phil Fitzpatrick's Bob Dylan presentation and Dr. Krista Sue-Lo Twu's Shakespeare presentation related to the First Folio exhibition that is coming to UMD in October.

A table of contents for the event would go something like this: a preface, intro, 2 chapters of your choosing and an epilogue. The preface consisted of drinks, hors d'oeuvres and the commencement of a silent auction. At 6:45 library foundation president Dan D'Allard welcomed us (the introduction) and with a few brief remarks, including acknowledgements, ushered us off to our first presentations in various locations about the library. After two chapters of one hour "lectures" we re-convened around more delights as an epilogue.

I proceeded to the Gold Room for Phil Fitzpatrick's "A Dylan Hour" which proved to be a thoroughly engaging tour through the foggy trail of time regarding one of the mysteries of our Native Son. Mr. Fitzpatrick opined that his efforts to "solve the mystery" failed miserably. Everyone who attended would likely say the antithesis, he succeeded in shining a light on Dylan's not all-that-obscure connections to his roots.

The second presentation I attended dealt with Shakespeare's First Folio which will be on display here during the month of October. Ms. Twu, whose accolades and achievements include studying Shakespeare at Cambridge (one item on a list as long as your arm), was introduced as "smarter than you are." The traveling exhibit First Folio is on loan from the Folger Shakespeare Library. Throughout the month there are daily activities scheduled to make this a truly rewarding opportunity for the community. The Grand Opening is slated for October 6, in the event this is not yet on your event horizon.

2016, for what it's worth, is the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's passing. Christa Twu devoted her time to sharing with us the significance of the historical period in which Shakespeare lived and moved, a transitional time from the Early Modern to Renaissance era. Her insights helped but a context on the life of Shakespeare and will

Here are a few items of note that I gleaned from the presentation. Of the 36 plays in this 1623 volume, 18 had never been printed before, including MacBeth and The Tempest. Approximately 750 copies were printed, but we only know the whereabouts of 233 today.

The reason folio sized books were the size they were was because they were proportional to the lambskin parchment that preceded printed paper books. The sheath of paper is about the size of a skinned lamb. Folding the paper in half and half again produces proportionally smaller sized volumes. Just as language has ancient roots that we're unaware of, so books have their own forgotten histories.

William Shakespeare was born during the reign of Elizabeth I, and later lived during the reign of King James VI. This was a significant time in the history of ideas. In the realm of religion the Protestant Reformation showed people they could have an unmediated relationship with God through the Bible. In order to read the Bible people had to know how to read, so this was a period of increased literacy. People can only be readers as long as they have time to read.

It was during this time that men like Galileo (1564-1642) and Kepler (1571-1630)  showed that the earth was not center of the universe. This was also a time of global exploration and the world was being mapped as it was, not as it was imagined. We learned about the what was taking place in Japan and China, the Middle East and Americas, and how all this was reflected in various ways in the plays of William S.

First Folio cost 20 shillings if you wished to own the works of Shakespeare when it was first produced. That would translate to $200 today.

For four Fridays in October you can see First Folio! the book that gave us Shakespeare at the Duluth Public Library. Look for announcements regarding other events, times and places, taking place throughout that month.

As regards the Phil Fitzpatrick presentation... that deserves a blog post all its own, if not three.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Embrace it.

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