The exhibit, “Bringing Them Home: Edmund Blunden’s Books and the Memory of the First World War,” opens on Tuesday, Oct. 9 and will be featured on the fifth floor of Alden Library throughout the fall semester. The exhibit documents the experience and memory of World War I through the personal library of Edmund Blunden, the longest serving of the British Great War poets.
The Blunden Collection, which is located in The Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections, is not only fascinating because it represents the reading, research, and collecting interests of Blunden, but because Blunden interacted heavily with his books, leaving behind notations, annotations, drawings, and other information that gives us insight into who he was.
“…He [Blunden] wasn’t a collector who had a lot of money, who could go to auctions and buy very fancy, expensive books. He found some amazing things just by digging through the second-hand book stalls. He was very proud of that. He called himself a book hunter, and he talked a lot about the lost art of finding the rare and valuable book amongst a sea of books that don’t look like they’re valuable…The whole collection really does bear the mark of his mind and his passion for books,” said Nicole Reynolds, associate professor of English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and co-curator of the exhibit.
The exhibit will kick-off with an opening reception on Tuesday, Oct. 9 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. on the fifth floor of Alden Library.
“We hope that faculty, staff, students and community members come to Authors @Alden [on November 8th] and visit the exhibit and spread the word about both! We would love to see increased interest in and usage of the Blunden Collection as a result of these events, in terms of instruction, research and just personal interest,” said Miriam Intrator, special collections librarian and co-curator of the exhibit. Blunden’s Collection contains around 10,000 books. It specializes in 18th to 20th century British poetry and prose, but also includes natural history, science, religion, art and more.
Reynolds hopes that people will visit the exhibit, as well as the accompanying events, and become aware of the massive and incomparable collection we have here at Alden Library. It is also her hope that this exhibit and events will make people think more about peace and the impact of war.
Reynolds commented, “I’d like people to say that they now know this amazing collection that we have. I’d like people to maybe think about ways they can use the Blunden Collection in their own teaching. I’d like people to take away an appreciation of Blunden, his experience. Maybe for people to reflect on the tragedy and catastrophe of war.”
The exhibit coincides with the Authors @Alden event, featuring poet John Greening, on Thursday, Nov. 8. from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Greening will also be doing a poetry reading of his original work on Nov. 9 at 4:30 p.m. in Baker 341, and engaging in conversations with undergraduate, graduate and Honors Tutorial College students. All events are free and open to the public. For more information on these activities, contact Miriam Intrator.
To request accessibility accommodations for this event, please contact Jennifer Harvey.