“Not only are humans badly injured, so can books” | Culture and entertainment | Valencian Community Edition

The exhibition ‘Badly wounded. The imprint of time in the REBIUN’ libraries is a journey between the 14th and 20th centuries through books and manuscripts that reflect the censorship, restoration and environmental disasters that society has experienced, and which, according to the vice-rector for Research at the University of Valencia (UV), Carlos Hermenegildo, demonstrates that “not only are humans badly injured, but books can also be.”

In the Duke of Calabria room of the La Nau Cultural Center, and with approximately 250 books donated by the Duke himself, the inauguration of the exhibition that is being held within the framework of the III Conference on Heritage Management took place this Thursday and will remain open until September 4.

The exhibition, which is divided into six sections: ‘Censura’; ‘Disasters’, ‘Intrinsic causes of deterioration’; ‘Biodeterioration’; ‘Human Factor’ and ‘Restoration and preventive conservation’, includes a selection of more than fifty documents, including seven manuscripts and five incunabula, through which the main causes capable of altering their integrity are exposed.

With the mission that books and manuscripts, with inestimable historical value, reach future generations in the form of a legacy, the curators and restorers of the UV Library and Documentation Service, Susana González Martínez and Mónica Pintado Antúnez, have led out the exhibition.

The curators have made a tour of all the showcases together with the attendees, and on the first one, ‘Censura’, they have explained that it evidences the action carried out by the Inquisition or by the hand of former owners.

Among the works are the manuscript known as ‘Cançoner de Maians’ which transcribes the works of Joan Roís de Corella and which underwent a process of self-censorship by which the text where the work ‘La suplicació de natura humana’ began was canceled, by means of a large ink stain that prevents it from being read.

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‘Disasters’ focuses on the flood that devastated València in 1957, and as the curators explained, “its effects can be seen in a copy of Luis Vives’ work ‘Tratado del socorro de los Pobres’, printed in València in 1781 , in which the layer of mud from the disaster still remains”. Documents, photographs and reports affected by the flood are also on display.

It is followed by the ‘Intrinsic causes’ section that offers a vision of how the difference in the quality of the materials, the way of manufacturing paper and the inks have influenced its conservation. The curators have highlighted a volume of the ‘Encyclopédie de Diderot’ and d’Alembert, for the engraving on the air-drying of the leaves.

They have also highlighted the damage that can be caused by insects and rodents, reflected in a selection of works that present holes, galleries and serious loss of their materiality, “resulting in a serious problem for the collections of archives and libraries”, they have qualified.

But, apparently, it has not only been insects that have destroyed valuable historical memories: the human being has also done it, and as proof of this they have dedicated a showcase called ‘Human Factor’ that collects books “mutilated by human greed and damaged due to old repair interventions, which over time have been unfortunate”, stressed Susana González and Mónica Pintado.

They have highlighted a copy of the collection of codices of the Duke of Calabria, which in the nineteenth century suffered the “mutilation” of two of its miniatures.

The exhibition culminates with the ‘restoration and preventive conservation’ section that highlights the restoration work that today allows damaged specimens to be recovered, such as the case of the ‘Diari del Compromís de Casp’, dated 1412.

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The director of the Historical Library, María Jesús García, added that it is an exhibition with books, manuscripts, photographs and documents that are part of the university bibliographical heritage and that are marked by the scars of their historical evolution.

Mª del Mar Benlloch Carramolino