- Associated Press - Monday, April 7, 2014

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) - A newly-acquired rare book by a 17th century utopian writer will be available for public perusal at the University of California, Riverside - but only under the watchful eyes of librarians.

“We will teach you how to handle the book gently,” said Melissa Conway, head of special collections and university archives, who led the effort to get the first edition version of Tommaso Campanella’s “Civitas Solis,” or “City of the Sun.”

The volume, written in Latin in 1623, had been on the wish list for the university’s Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported Sunday (http://bit.ly/QXoCcJ ).

Conway spotted the title on a rare book dealer list and sought the $54,000 grant to buy it.

“City of the Sun” is in the utopian genre, which she described as “a form of speculative fiction because it is describing a state, a condition, in which everything is perfect, or nearly perfect.”

Fewer than 20 copies of the first edition volume exist, and nearly all are held by private colleges in the United States or European universities and museums. UC Riverside is now one of only two public libraries in the US with this volume, the school said.

It was acquired thanks to the grant from the New York City-based B.H. Breslauer Foundation, which awards money to U.S. libraries that collect rare books and manuscripts.

In 2010 the foundation provided $10,000 to purchase the first American edition of “The Time Machine” by H.S. Wells (an error in printing the name of science fiction icon H. G. Wells) for the Eaton Collection.

The Eaton Collection, the flagship collection of Special Collections & University Archives, is the world’s largest publicly accessible repository of science fiction, fantasy, horror and utopian literature, according to the newspaper.

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Information from: The Press-Enterprise, http://www.pe.com