Reymont, recognition, and relegation : the November 2014 Slavonic item of the month


Front cover of v. 1 of a 1931 edition of Chłopi, Uc.8.6564

In November 1924, the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to the Polish prose writer Władysław Reymont, the second of four Polish-language literature laureates to date. To mark the award’s anniversary, we look at the University Library’s Reymont holdings, consider our scant acquisitions in recent decades, and search for Reymont in the card catalogue.

Ninety years ago this month, Władysław Reymont was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  The Swedish Academy always explains its choice.  In Reymont’s case, this was given in some brevity: Reymont was recognised “for his great national epic, The peasants“.  He is one of nine laureates, so far, for whom the Academy has “singled out a specific work for particular recognition” (see the Nobel literature fact page and Reymont’s Nobel page), and the second Polish-language literature laureate, following Henryk Sienkiewicz’s award in 1905. Continue reading

Borrow Spanish language e-books from the Digitalia platform

A screenshot of the platform.

A screenshot of the platform.

Cambridge University Library has renewed its subscription to DIGITALIA Hispánica for the second year running. DIGITALIA is an aggregator of Spanish-language e-books from Spain, the Caribbean and Latin America. The platform provides access to over 10,700 ebooks and 2,550 ejournal issues, many of them unique to Digitalia. It offers access across multiple file formats, including PDF, HTML Flash, and HTML. See our previous blog post with instructions on access here.

This year, a new feature will allow users to download ebooks using Adobe DRM. To activate this feature, you will need to create a personal account with DIGITALIA. You may do so by clicking on the Your Account tab in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Further instructions are available from the Help Center tab. Continue reading

The Persistence of the Eighteenth Century in the Russian Cultural Imagination


The first lines of Rossiiada by Mikhail Kheraskov (7756.c.1)

The second 2014/15 CamCREES seminar saw Professor Luba Golburt of UC Berkeley speak about the paradox of the obscurity and tenacity of the 18th century in the Russian cultural and historical imagination.  These notes go on to look at her question of the Russian 18th century’s true length, in terms of classification and subject headings.

Russian literature’s “Golden Age” was the 19th century, exemplified by Pushkin, the poet described to this day in Russia as nashe vse (our everything).  Professor Golburt’s absorbing talk looked at the way in which the epoch which preceded it, the 18th century, both fell into undeserved obscurity and yet also cast an enduring shadow long after it ended.  The talk was based on Professor Golburt’s recently published book, The first epoch : the eighteenth century and the Russian cultural imagination (the University Library’s copy is electronic and can be accessed by Library readers from this LibrarySearch record). Continue reading

The fall of the Berlin Wall : what’s in a title

25 years ago, on 9 November 1989, following weeks of images on the world’s television screens of candle-lit demonstrations in Leipzig, overcrowded embassies and trains, the Berlin Wall opened and residents of East and West Germany flooded across the former border. Some of these images are recorded in 9. November 1989, der Tag der Deutschen (9000.d.4068). The period between October 1989 and reunification a year later was one of tremendous upheaval and rapid change. The turmoil was reflected in the publishing industry, as editions licensed between East and West (Lizenzausgaben) became a thing of the past, replaced initially by joint East/West publications, only for such joint enterprises rapidly to disappear. Old GDR publishing houses were merged or closed, and new publishing houses sprang up, many of them very short-lived.


Selected books of the Berlin Wall in the UL

It has been estimated that from November 1989 onwards a new book on contemporary events was being published every working day. Cambridge University Library did its very best to keep abreast of all these titles and collected extensively in the field. It could be a strange experience. In writing to ask a new publisher about titles and prices, sometimes the actual books were sent by return without charge. We were one of six British libraries who contributed to a union list of titles, along with the Bodleian, the university libraries of Nottingham, Portsmouth and Warwick, and the Institute of Germanic Studies of the University of London (now part of Senate House Library). This was published in 1993 under the title Two into one : Germany 1989-1992 : a bibliography of the ‘Wende’ (Cam.d.993.5, R560.G69). The introduction pays testimony to the range of Cambridge’s collecting activity: “Of those libraries contributing, only Cambridge University can be said to cover every aspect of the subject”.

Continue reading

Cortázar’s only graphic novel – an account of an Argentinian vision, or a vision of hell


La raíz del ombú (2014.11.1003)

On August 26th this year, our team unfortunately missed the opportunity to write a blog-post on the centenary of Julio Cortázar – one of the pre-eminent Latin-American “boomers” of the 1960s. However, on that same day we were fortunate enough to purchase a fascinating item by the author: La raíz del ombú is Cortázar’s only graphic novel, created in collaboration with artist Alberto Cedrón between 1977 and 1981.

Although Cortázar had previously explored the interplay between text and images (see for example his Fantomas contra los vampiros multinacionales, 1994.8.201 and Ub.8.472) this is his first “full” graphic novel. In the words of Cortázar himself in the introduction, the work is “an account of an Argentinian vision, […] a current vision of hell”. It is an allegory of Argentina’s unsettled and often violent history from 1930 to the late 1970s, built around Alberto Cedrón’s memories, dreams and obsessions. Continue reading

German fiction in the Schobert film collection

Processing of two large collections of cinema books, totalling several thousand titles, is currently in progress. Cataloguing of the Glynne Parker collection is well advanced, and specific items have already been the basis of posts on the European languages across borders blog. Rather more work remains to be done before processing of the Walter Schobert collection is completed. A film historian whom I recently took to view the two collections is sure they include many titles not otherwise available in national libraries.

Professor Walter Schobert collection - donation label

Professor Walter Schobert collection – donation label

The Parker and Schobert collections complement each other remarkably well. To the limited extent in which they duplicate each other, and existing holdings in the University Library, it is in the English language component, but for neither collection is English the largest language grouping. The emphasis of the Parker collection is on French and Italian material, whilst among Schobert’s books German language material predominates.

Continue reading

The illustrated Lermontov : the October 2014 Slavonic item of the month

The 200th anniversary of the great Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov’s birth falls this month, as marked by library and literary blogs the world over.  In this post, we look at books produced a hundred years ago to mark the first centenary of his birth, focusing in particular on a illustrated set of his complete works.

Illustration for Lermontov's Aul Bastundzhi by Martiros San'ian (S756.b.91.6)

Illustration for Lermontov’s Aul Bastundzhi by Martiros San’ian (S756.b.91.6)

The earliest book by Lermontov held by the University Library was published in 1842; this is the first half of a two-volume set of his poems (8757.d.7-8).  The poet had already died the year before, killed outright in a duel in the Caucasus at the age of 26.  Only one collection of his poetry was published in his lifetime, in 1840; his poems had otherwise been printed in larger, shared publications.  A great deal of Lermontov’s work came out only after his untimely death, although Geroi nashego vremeni (Hero of our time), the prose novel for which he is possibly best known to Anglophone readers, had already appeared in 1840.

One hundred years ago, the centenary of Lermontov’s death was celebrated in print by a number of special issues of and about his work.  Among them was the set which is our Slavonic item of the month.  Illiustrirovannoe polnoe sobranie sochinenii M.Iu. Lermontova (The illustrated complete works of M.Iu. Lermontov; S756.b.91.1-6).  Five of the six volumes which make up this lovely set contain works by Lermontov himself.  The last contains recollections of the poet by his acquaintances and a section of critical articles on his work.  All six are liberally illustrated with pictures by a large number of various artists, including the poet himself.  Minor illustrations are printed directly on to the page, with more significant ones printed on to individual plates.

Continue reading