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Unrivaled Unrevealed

 

 ​Select Treasures of the National Library

​Select Treasures of the National Library
Exhibited at the Ceremony of the National Library of Israel Renewal Project

Curator and Designer: Ido Bruno
March 27, 2011
 
​Looking at books on display is qualitatively different from reading them.
The reader's heart belongs to the content of the book, while the reader's mind belongs to the ideas behind the words.
The viewer's eyes are drawn to the form and color, the visual appearance of the book. The book’s “look” tells a story, adding to the aura that surrounds every manuscript and every book, an aura that joins a myriad of other auras, together forming what I would term, with ardor and wonder, culture – material and spiritual.
There are those rare moments when the contents of the book, its raison d'être, are one with the personal history of the book as an object, as a unique entity, as a cultural artifact blessed with a life of its own. Rarer still are those times that the form and the content of
a single book are interwoven with the forms and the contents of others.
 
These are the moments we looked for in choosing the small collection on display here.
The remains of Ka-Tzetnik's 'Twenty-Two' are juxtaposed with the discarded drafts that S.I. Agnon thrust into his oven – both have so far refused to burn. The crazy love in 'Layla ¯va Majnun¯ ' , with its marvelous illustrations, is playfully paired with the arrestingly simple artwork of 'Meshal ha-Qadmoni'. Together, they tell the story of the transition from manuscript to print. Sir Isaac Newton’s mystical Hebrew handwriting meets Franz Kafka's Hebrew practice notebook, where the Hebrew words for innocent, snitch, genius, and tuberculosis live side by side. Each of these objects is exciting in itself; together they weave a resonant web of meaning.
Over the years, authors and artisans undertook additions and modifications, honing their work and aiming for accuracy, polishing and refining the volumes to the extent that is humanly possible. All those who work with books – novelists and poets, illustrators and scribes, printers and binders, restorers and librarians – are engaged in an endless cycle of damage and restoration.
The exhibition presented in this catalogue is modest in size, but showcases a number of unique objects. With assistance from the long-time custodians of the National Library's treasures, we drew up unusual criteria for the selection of objects. Rather than choosing representative items, whether in terms of subject or content, we elected to allow the guest to peek through a polished lens, to sample the riches that await those who walk through the Library's doors.
I hope that the visitors to the exhibition will experience the same excitement I felt when I first became acquainted with these books and objects and chose them for this display.
Ido Bruno
Exhibition Curator
NLI_ImageGallery
NliImageGallery
  • Qur’an, Shirazı manuscript
  • Persian paper, Early 16th century, 411 pp., 290x185mm Yah. Ms. Ar. 910
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    Qur’an, Shirazı manuscript
  • 'Layla va Majnun' and 'Meshal ha-Qadmoni'
  • Persian copied by Muhammad Mulay Mır al-Husayni al-Ustazi ca. 1603 Yah. Ms Ar. 1002
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    'Layla va Majnun' and 'Meshal ha-Qadmoni'
  • Isaac ben Solomon 'Meshal ha-Qadmoni' Brescia, 1491 RI 8° 86 A 590 Ludwig Jesselson
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    Sefer 'Meshal ha-Qadmoni'
  • Isaac Newton 1642-1727
  • ca. 1670-1680 110x154 mm Yahuda MS 1.8 f.17v
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    Isaac Newton, 'Map of the Near East'
  • ca. 1675-1685 310x200 mm Yahuda MS 28e, ff. 2v-3r
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    Isaac Newton, 'Notes on the Jewish Temple'
  • Stephan Illes, 'Jerusalem aus der Vogelschau'
  • Copper engraving Vienna, 1873 332x453 mm Eran Laor Cartographic Collection, Jer. 90
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    Stephan Illes, 'Jerusalem aus der Vogelschau'
  • Jerusalem, a Panoramic View of the Old City from the Mount of Olives
  • Photochrom print, ca. 1890-1900 Jacob Wahrman Archives, archives ARC.4° 1858/ 2.1/ 52
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    Jerusalem, a Panoramic View of the Old City from the Mount of Olives
  • Martin Buber, 'Ich und Du'
  • Heppenheim an der Bergstrasse, 1923 285x220 mm ARC. MS. VAR. 350/bet 9
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    Martin Buber, 'Ich und Du'
  • Franz Kafka, Notebook with Hebrew-German word list
  • Prague, ca. 1922 Archives Department, Avraham Schwadron Autograph Collection
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    Franz Kafka, Notebook with Hebrew-German word list
  • Yehiel Feiner (Dinur, Ka-Zetnik), 'Salamandra' and 'Zweiunzwanzik'
  • 'Salamandra' author's handwritten corrections ink, ca. 1950 Archives, Schwad.01.19.01
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    Yehiel Feiner (Dinur, Ka-Zetnik), 'Salamandra' and 'Zweiunzwanzik'
  • Remnants of the cuttings of 'Zweiunzwanzik' Wrsw, 1931 (5691) 62 [1] p. R 0˚ 31 V 5304
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    Yehiel Feiner (Dinur, Ka-Zetnik), 'Salamandra' and 'Zweiunzwanzik'
  • cuttings of 'Zweiunzwanzik' Wrsw, 1931 (5691) 62 [1] p. R 0˚ 31 V 5304
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    Yehiel Feiner (Dinur, Ka-Zetnik), 'Salamandra' and 'Zweiunzwanzik'
  • S.Y. Agnon, 'Shira'
  • Pieces of draft of 'Shira', salvaged from the oven
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    S.Y. Agnon, 'Shira'
  • 4th P of Agnon's Shira Jerus1960s Ink+pencil, paper S.Y. Agnon ARC. 4° 1270.01.681
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    S.Y. Agnon, 'Shira'
  • Tom Seidmann-Freud, 'The Journey of the Fish'
  • Berlin, 1925 28 pp., 230x300 mm R 4° 31 V 8366
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    Tom Seidmann-Freud, 'The Journey of the Fish'
  • Leah Goldberg, Manuscript of 'My Friends from Arnon Street'
  • Ink on paper, Archives Department, Lea Goldberg Archive ARC. 4° 1655.02.061
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    Leah Goldberg, Manuscript of 'My Friends from Arnon Street'
  • 'Pninei Ha-Mizrach' (Pearls of the East), Shoshana Damari accompanied by
  • 'Pearls of the East' Moshe Wilensky NSA, record JR 3554
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    'Pninei Ha-Mizrach' (Pearls of the East), Shoshana Damari accompanied by
  • 'Zohara', verso Lyrics: Rafael Kletzkin 148x112 mm Wilensky Archive, MUS 69 A 91
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    'Zohara'
  • 'זוהרה’, עמ' ב מילים: רפאל קלצ'קין 112x148 מ"מ ארכיון וילנסקי, MUS 69 A 91
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    'זוהרה’
  • 'Zohara', orchestral arrangement one of eight Moshe Wilensky Arc MUS 69 A 91 (b)
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    'Zohara'
  • Manuscript, paper Egypt, 12th century 180 pp., 285x219 mm Ms. Heb. 4°5703
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    Maimonides, autograph copy of 'Commentary on the Mishnah, Nashim'
  • Manuscript, paper Egypt, 12th century 180 pp., 285x219 mm Ms. Heb. 4°5703
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    Maimonides, autograph copy of 'Commentary on the Mishnah, Nashim'
  • Manuscript on parchment Burgos, Spain, 1260 428 pp., 305x270 mm Ms. Heb 4º 790
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    'The Damascus Keter', Hebrew Bible with Vocalization, Accents,
  • Manuscript on parchment Burgos, Spain, 1260 428 pp., 305x270 mm Ms. Heb 4º 790
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    The Damascus Keter', Hebrew Bible with Vocalization, Accents,