History in the making – thoughts on cataloguing the Liberation collection (Part 2)

In the first part of my blog-post on working with the Liberation donation, I explored the fragmented and sometimes contradictory vision of history that the books in the collection offer, each point of view representing only a tiny portion of the actual events. In this second part, I want to expand on the odd feeling I sometimes had that the entire collection itself, despite offering quite a complete view of the period’s publishing landscape in France, was only a fraction of the whole story. I don’t mean to diminish the importance of the collection; indeed, what it doesn’t say is just as interesting from a historical point of view as what it does say.

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History in the making – thoughts on cataloguing the Liberation collection (Part 1)

In 2019, I spent 9 months helping to process the Liberation collection, a donation of over 3000 books in French published at the end of the Second World War. As this project is coming to an end, and with the current atmosphere lending itself to pause and reflection, now seemed a good time to share my experience of working with the collection. This will not be a full and objective review of what you can expect to find in it, but rather a more personal spotlight on what struck me the most.

When I started cataloguing it, I expected the donation would give me a complete and accurate view of what these extraordinary times were like in France. Yet if there is one thing that I will take away from it, it is that it is impossible to have a full understanding of history when you are caught in the middle of it. Continue reading

Inspektor Mors and Mis Marpl : the May 2020 Slavonic item(s) of the month

Having initially wanted our lockdown-era posts to focus on e-available material only, I am now going one step yet further away myself by writing about books held by the UL neither electronically nor physically…  This post instead looks at Slavonic translations of British detective fiction I have picked up for myself over the years.  Getting used to reading in another language can take time, and I for one found that worrying about the plot as well as the words really held me up.  What I came to discover was that reading a familiar detective novel translated into the language took the pressure off, and it’s a trick I have stuck to ever since. Continue reading

History and memory: French comic books and graphic novels at Cambridge University Library

Comic books (bandes dessinées or BDs) and graphic novels (romans graphiques) are a very important and successful part of French and Francophone publications. A report on the Bande Dessinée was commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture and published in January 2019, ahead of BD 2020, l’année de la bande dessinée. It contained several proposals for better symbolic and institutional recognition for the “9th art”: a stronger local, national and international dissemination and promotion, and an ambitious education policy. 2020 is thus officially « L’année de la bande-dessinée à la BnF »: the French national Library has engaged in a series of printed and online publications as well as events on the topic (prolonged up to 31st June 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis) and has even developed an app, “BDnF, la Fabrique à BD“, for you to try and create your own comic book. The app is accompanied by tutorials, and examples of creations in different sub-genres (including comic strip, manga, webtoon…), based on a selection of digital images from archival BnF documents. You can also read entire comic books online: during the lockdown, publishers such as La Boite à Bulles or Dargaud opened up some of their collections; every month, you can access a free volume on the website of Les Humanoïdes Associés. You can also read online comic books on the Institut Français digital library Culturethèque (sign up for free with your email address), or browse the digitised collections of the Cité internationale de la bande dessinée et de l’image, based in Angoulème, where takes place a major annual International Comics Festival.

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