Selecting the 7th millionth book in a University’s library collection isn’t easy — and Claudia Funke, curator of rare books at Wilson Library, would know.
“There is a tradition at UNC where every millionth volume is always a rare book,” she said.
Past millionth editions included THIS, THIS AND THIS.
And on Mar. 20, Chancellor Carol Folt accepted Juan Latino’s book of poetry as a gift from the John Wesley and Anna Hodgin Hanes Foundation of Winston-Salem.
Written as a volume of poetry in the Renaissance era, the book and its author are noteworthy for THIS, THIS, AND THIS.
The book is Latino’s first book of poems, and the title is a mouthful: “Ad Catholicum … Philippum Dei gratia Hispaniarum Regem …, epigrammatum liber : De que … Pii Quinti Romanae Ecclesiae Pontificis … Liber unus : Austrias carmen de excellentissimi domini D. Ioannis ab Austria, … re benè gesta, in victoria mirabili eiusdem Philippi aduersus perfidos Turcas parta … per magistrum Ioannem Latinum Garnatae studiosae adolescentiae moderatorem ; Libri duo.”
Latino, a native Sub-Saharan African, wrote the book more than 400 years ago. Although from Sub-Saharan Africa, he was eventually enslaved in Spain. He started to learn Latin and Greek — which he proved to excel in — and later went on to become a well-known professor in Latin grammar in Granada, Spain.
“He was very influential in Spanish Golden Age literature. He taught a lot of people,” Funke said.
Regardless of his plight as a young man, Latino’s success is irrefutable.
His book of poetry is the first to be written in a Western language by anyone of Sub-Saharan descent. It is written in Latin, with a style that Funke is especially impressed by.
“What strikes me is that he really did write in Virgilian style,” she said.
English professor William Andrews said, “The poems are not lyrical; they are not self-revealing.”
“They show Latino’s facility with Latin. They show that he can write in the traditional style.”
Latino divided the book into three sections, which includes poems dedicated to the birth of Prince Ferdinand, the King and Pope Pius V, as well as the “Austriad,” which details the Battle of Lapanto in 1571.
When discussing his verses, Funke said, “There are parts that are moving in the battle scenes.”
It makes Wilson Library one of only 21 University libraries in the United States that have at least 7 million volumes, but it also succeeds in showing UNC’s dedication to diversity in literary arts.
“It represents another commitment of the university to the history and cultural and written expression of people of African descent,” Andrews said.
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