23 May 2007
An author described by some as the greatest living French writer visited the Taylor Institution Library in Oxford a few days ago. The Taylor Institution, known as the ‘Taylorian’, is the University’s centre for studying modern languages and their literatures.
Yves Bonnefoy (left, born 1923), a poet, essayist, translator (including of Shakespeare’s plays into French) and art historian, came to the Taylorian to give the 2007 Zaharoff Lecture on Rimbaud. His visit included a tour of the beautiful nineteenth-century main reading room and the French and German reading room, given by library staff and Michael Sheringham, the Oxford Marshal Foch French Professor, who introduced the lecture.
Monsieur Bonnefoy, who has written over 130 books and articles, was able to spot some of his own works en route; the majority of them are in the Taylor Institution Library. He held the chair of the comparative study of poetry at the Collège de France from 1981 to 1994 and has been awarded a number of prizes for his poetry.
Before he left, Monsieur Bonnefoy signed the visitors’ book, following the example of previous visitors to the Taylorian such as the Prince of Wales (1932) and Jean Cocteau, and was presented with a copy of a book of Oxford photographs by Chris Andrews featuring a full-page picture of the Taylorian.
The previous week the library held a poetry reading in which some of Bonnefoy’s poems were read by Nicole Gore.
The Taylor Institution building houses two libraries: the Taylor Institution Library, which concentrates on the literary and philological aspects of the main European languages (other than English), and the more recent Modern Languages Faculty Library, the main Oxford lending library for Modern Languages undergraduates. See www.taylib.ox.ac.uk. There is a separate collection of Slavonic, Easter European and Greek books in the Taylor Bodleian Slavonic and Modern Greek Library; see www.taslib.ox.ac.uk