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Library and Staff Notes

June 2012

The Providence Journal has a favorable editorial about the "Mystery Book," the book within a book, written in code, that has been in our collection (unread) since the Library's founding. A Brown University undergraduate, Lucas Mason-Brown, will continue work on the decryption over the summer. It's possible that a major new Roger Williams document may be offered to the world.

May 2012

The JCB community was saddened today to learn of the death of Carlos Fuentes, the great Mexican novelist, although "novelist" seems too small to capture his many achievements. He was a public intellectual in the old tradition, and a library unto himself. His final lecture at the JCB, given a little over a month ago, on April 10, revealed a man living very much in the world. It may have been the last lecture he gave, anywhere. Titled "Mexican Times," it wove brilliantly between the past and the present, and between Mexico and the Colossus to the North. Characteristically, it included a candid and sometimes searing critique of his country's serpentine progress toward democracy; but also manifested an unyielding pride in Mexico's history. Throughout, it was leavened by his irrepressible humor and the sly look in his eye that suggested he knew something he was not revealing. Carlos stayed late after his talk, shaking hands and signing books for his many admirers, before saying a courtly farewell, and exiting toward the Brown green and parts unknown.

This photograph shows him, near the beginning of his lecture, just getting going. I remember thinking that I had never heard him sound so robust.

---Ted Widmer

May 2012

The John Carter Brown Library opens a new exhibition in the Reading Room and online in May. "Voyage to the Islands: Hans Sloane, Slavery, and Scientific Travel in the Caribbean" explores the intersection of science and slavery in the early modern Atlantic world. The exhibition is guest-curated by former JCB Fellow, James Delbourgo.

For more information, see the Press Release.

April 2012

An exciting project has been undertaken by a group of Brown University undergraduates at the John Carter Brown Library. They are exploring the decryption of manuscript shorthand written on a mysterious book held by the library. The book, called "An Essay Towards the Reconciling of Differences Among Christians" (title taken from running head; the actual title page is missing), contains shorthand thought to have been written by Roger Williams.

The Atlantic Monthly wrote an article on April 9, 2012, on the project which can be read here.

Read the front page article which appeared in the Providence Journal here.

To keep up with the doings of the "Cracking the Code" team, follow our blog, JCB Books Speak.

March 2012

Charles C. Mann, recent author of 1493: Uncovering the New World that Columbus Created, was the speaker for the Galleti Lecture this year. Ted Widmer, Director of the JCB, talks with Charles in the Bolivar Room at the library.

January 2012

The John Carter Brown Library is highlighting another work by Lawrence C. Wroth with its new exhibition in the Reading Room. Wroth's The Colonial Printer is the source for "The Illustrated Colonial Printer" and the point of departure for the exhibition which showcases a selection of the books mentioned, but not shown, in the text.
For more information, see the Press Release.

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26 April 2012
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