About the Collection
Oberlin College Library Special Collections currently contains records for over 1400 works (many are multi-volume) in the French language.
Many of these have been accrued through the acquisition of other collections, and so the subject nature ranges over dictionaries, travel and voyages, religion, natural history, philosophy, music, and the book arts. For those who would like a historical look at the French language, there are many French translations of Classical authors, 16th century works by Jean Calvin and Jean Bodin, as well as 17th and 18th century editions of French canonical works such as those of Froissart, Rabelais, La Fontaine, and Le Roman de la Rose. There are also 17th century editions of works by Blaise Pascal, François de Malherbe, and Louis Hennepin. The Enlightenment is particularly well represented with contemporaneous works by Bayle, Montesquieu, Helvétius, Voltaire, Alembert and Diderot, Condillac, Condorcet, and particularly J. J. Rousseau.
However the extraordinary feature of our holdings are several bound collections of approximately 600 individual plays and songs extending, printed from the mid-18th century to the early 19th century. These were acquired to support French language instruction at Oberlin College from the 1920s to the 1950s. The collection is supplemented by the œuvre of playwrights such as Molière (1622-1673), Quinault (1635-1688), Bret (1717-1792), Marmontel (1723-1799), Le Grand (1673-1728), Corneille (1625-1709), Le Sage (1721-1738), Moissy (1712-1777), Saint-Foix (1698-1776), La Noue (1701-1760), La Chaussée (1892-1754), Favart (1710-1792), Palissot (1730-1814), Boursault (1638-1701), and others. Not to be overlooked is the sixteen-volume Le Chansonnier François from 1760-1761.
The French holdings also include a 1715 edition of the great 17th century work of theater criticism La pratique du théatre, par L'abbé d'Aubignac, a three volume critical work on Racine (1692-1763) from 1752, and the 1664 Elzevier publication Les oeuvres diverses du sieur de Balzac (note: this is not Honoré Balzac). Special Collections also holds the ten-volume Histoire de l'Académie Royale des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres from 1717, and the eighteen-volume Biblioteque Françoise ou Histoire de la Literature François of 1741.