BODMER (1899-1971)

A Swiss collector and man of letters. Bodmer was the founder in 1919 of a library of world literature, Bibliotheca Bodmeriana, first in Zurich and from 1951 in Geneva. Shortly before his death, the library won public recognition and the rights of a private institution (Foundation Bodmer). The library today holds about 160,000 volumes. It includes 300 manuscripts, 65 papyri Book of the Dead, Greek and Coptic biblical texts, classical and texts, 270 incunabula, including a Gutenberg Bible, and 2,000 autographs. It contains valuable collections of Shakespeare, Goethe, and Zurich and Heidelberg studies.

In 1921, Bodmer established the Gottfried Keller Prize for literary works, still awarded every other year. In 1929 he started publication of the literary magazine Corona, which he organized and together with Herbert Steiner until 1943. This made possible numerous contacts with famous authors. In Geneva he was vice president of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He received honorary degrees from the universities of Frankfurt am Main, Bern, and Geneva. His most important publications are Bibliothek der Weltliteratur (Zürich, 1947) and Variationen zum Thema Weltliteratur (Frankfurt, 1959).