It is my pleasure to provide a foreword for this guide to the microfilm edition of Spanish Rare Books of the Golden Age. The guide details the holdings of the Spanish Golden Age found in the University of Illinois Library at Urbana-Champaign and microfilmed by Research Publications (now Primary Source Microfilm, an imprint of the Gale Group). It is based on The Spanish Golden Age (1472-1700), A Catalog of Rare Books... by Joseph L. Laurenti and Alberto Porqueras-Mayo (Boston, G.K. Hall, 1979).
In general, the collections of the University of Illinois’ Rare Book and Special Collections Library are strong in holdings of sixteenth-and seventeenth-century history and literature. The Spanish holdings can be considered complementary to the notable British holdings for the same period, and together they are cultural manifestations of two major political rivals of that time.
The earliest books represented in the guide and microfilmed for the collection are medieval works in Latin, written by Spanish authors or printed in Spain. Although the main arrangement is not chronological, the next period represented is that of the rise of vernacular literature in Western Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries--whether translations of Greek and Latin (and medieval) classics into Spanish, or original works by such authors as Boscan (died 1542), Antonio de Guevara (died ca. 1545), or Luis de Leon (died 1591). These works show the development of Spanish prose and poetical styles. Moreover, the works, particularly those of Antonio de Guevara, were regarded highly enough outside of Spain to be translated into other vernacular literatures, including English. A number of Spanish emblem books, written at a somewhat later date by Saavedra Fajardo, Horozco y Covarrubias, and Borja, have found their way into the University of Illinois Library over the past several decades. The faculty of the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese was most enthusiastic about acquiring books of this genre in Spanish to augment the already strong emblem book collections. At the same time rare editions of picaresque novels by Cervantes, Aleman, and Quevedo were also acquired. I should mention that as far as bibliographic control of North American copies of Spanish literature of the Golden Age is concerned, this guide contains a number of works noted neither by the National Union Catalog nor by the on-line data bases OCLC or RLIN as being held by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In this Library, the originals are only partially catalogued and hence not recorded, but are as accessible to the public as are any cataloged items.
Additional partially cataloged items at Illinois, now part of the microfilm collection, include numerous works by such authors as Ramon Lull, Juan Luis Vives, Pedro Mexia, Luis de Gongora, and Baltasar Gracian, as well as many classics translated into Spanish.
This guide to the microfilm collection lists in excess of one thousand items from the glorious Spanish Golden Age--works written by Spanish authors, works in classical languages printed in Spain, and works in the Spanish language printed outside of Spain. This is indeed a rich collection.
N. Frederick Nash
Curator of Rare Books
University of Illinois Library