Established in 2006 by Paul C. Smith, C 1956, this fund supports acquisitions in the broad field of Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian studies.
Paul Smith graduated with a major in Romance languages in 1956, and remembers the wonderful Frank Furness building as the library where he used to read books put on reserve for history and other classes. He also enjoyed sleuthing in the stacks, and in Leary’s famed bookstore on 9th Street, where his book collecting began. Since he retired in 2000 as a professor of Spanish at UCLA and moved back to Philadelphia with his Spanish wife, Paul has been privileged to use the resources of the Van Pelt Library to continue his research and publications on the Spanish writer Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. He has also benefitted in this work from the bibliographic assistance of the Penn Hispanic Studies librarian.
After graduating from Penn, Paul earned an MA from Middlebury College and a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from UC Berkeley in 1964. He was a professor of Spanish at UCLA from 1964 until retirement in 2000. His research and publications centered on the Valencian writer Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (1867-1928).Blasco Ibáñez is best known in the United States for film adaptations in the early 1920s of his novels, Blood and Sand (1908), The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1916), and The Torrent (1900), in which actors Rudolph Valentino and Greta Garbo first became known to the public.
Among Paul’s numerous publications on Blasco are three annotated and critical bibliographies (1975, 2005, and 2016) on editions of Blasco’s works, and publications on his life and writings. . Over the years, Paul assembled a solid collection of books by and about the Valencian novelist, including many first editions and rarities. In 2006 he donated this collection to the Penn’s Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Combined with the solid holdings already at Penn, the Library now has one of the strongest collections about Blasco Ibañez anywhere,
In addition to making a collection gift, and establishing an endowment fund, Paul has included the Penn Libraries in his estate planning. His legacy gift and the residual value of a Penn charitable annuity will enhance the endowment to benefit students and scholars of Hispanic and Luso-Brazilian studies in the future.
In 2018, Paul Smith created an endowment to assist the Hispanic-Luso-Brazilian librarian at Penn with travel expenses to visit a Spanish- or Portuguese-speaking country every three years to establish personal contacts with book dealers in that country.