The Einstein populariser

Among the books which crossed my desk recently, one in particular grabbed my attention with a striking cover illustration: Der Sprung über den Schatten: Betrachtungen auf Grenzgebieten by Alexander Moszkowski, published in 1917 (9004.d.6361).  I noticed that we had ten other books by this author, three of which are versions of a work on Albert  Einstein. This led me to look into who Moszkowski  was and I discovered another interesting and now little known character. Continue reading

Three Soviet anthologies : the July 2016 Slavonic item(s) of the month

201607_Shkolnyi cover

From cover of Shkol’nyi teatr

This month, we look at three old and new books.  Old to the Cambridge system but new to the University Library, the three anthologies offer interesting glimpses into the publishing world of the post-WW2 Stalinist period.

Hundreds of Slavonic books have recently started to be transferred to the University Library from the Modern and Medieval Languages Faculty Library (MML) as the MML makes space for new books coming in to support courses taught by the Department of Slavonic Studies.  The history of the MML and UL’s Slavonic collections – a subject for a separate blog post – means that the former holds many early and Soviet literary editions which the latter lacks. As a result, we are taking close to 100% of the books they have withdrawn which are not already in the UL, and it is a pleasure to be able to add these books to our collections.  Listed below are three examples from the Soviet period.  In all three, the parental guiding hand of the state is very clearly seen, and a paternalistic Stalin features in many of the anthologised works. Continue reading

Louis XIV: The king is dead… but not in our collections

The life and reign of Lewis XIV, late King of France and Navarre (7560.d.98)

The life and reign of Lewis XIV, late King of France and Navarre (7560.d.98)

Just in time for the final episodes of Versailles on the BBC, the University Library has received Le roi est mort : Louis XIV, 1715 (S950.a.201.4340). Including imagery from the funerals of French figures from Henri IV to Charles de Gaulle, this book (the catalogue of an exhibition held at the Châteaux de Versailles marking the 300th anniversary of his death) discusses both the ceremony and legal proceedings resulting from the death of the king.

Documents such as Louis XIV’s will (available in part online through the Archives nationales), the seating plan in St Denis for his funeral service, and orations from his funeral are reproduced along with essays on the death and funerals of kings of France, specific aspects of Louis XIV’s funeral, and analysis of the music and ceremony of royal funerals. Continue reading

Wild goose chases: musical games

MusiCB3 Blog

Whilst classifying books for UL stock a few days ago, I came across a pile of books in French. They were originally part of the IAML library, and were all on various aspects of music librarianship. My knowledge of French is minimal non-existent, and my normal tactic would be to try and get these dealt with and off my desk as quickly as possible, without lingering to flick through them much or trying to decipher more than I needed to. This time, however, one of them seemed worth trying to decipher in a bit more detail, as this fell out of the back of it:

goose game 1 Le jeu de l’oie de l’edition musicale

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German scholar Leonard Forster in Königsberg


The eminent German scholar Leonard Forster (1913-1997) was the fifth Schröder Professor of German from 1961 until 1979. His best-known work is probably the Penguin Book of German Verse (1957.7.3347), first published in 1957. But his main research areas were German baroque literature and Renaissance studies.

Leonard Forster was a very active user of Cambridge University Library. He regularly recommended books for purchase but also donated numerous volumes to the library.  A particularly large donation of his books was received in 1994. The titles of the donated books show his wide interests. They include works on Dadaism, contemporary Austrian experimental poetry and the plays of Roswitha von Gandersheim. In many volumes Leonard Forster noted when and where he had acquired them. Continue reading

Gregory Rabassa, 1922-2016


Gregory Rabassa in 2007 (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg News)

Many of the Latin American Boom’s greatest writers owe much of their international acclaim to one man: Gregory Rabassa, who passed away last month.

Rabassa’s English translations of Julio Cortázar’s Hopscotch (9743.c.74), Mario Vargas Llosa’s The green house (9743.c.108) and, in particular, Gabriel García Márquez’s One hundred years of solitude (9743.c.116) sold millions of copies and brought these authors to a much wider audience. He enjoyed a particularly close and mutually appreciative relationship with Cortázar and also translated the great Brazilian authors, Clarice Lispector, Jorge Amado and Machado de Assis, amongst many others. Continue reading

No, no, and furthermore no!


(image from publisher)

A recently acquired volume of correspondence of Henri Michaux, the Belgian-born writer and painter, provides a very specific view of his writing. Described as “highly idiosyncratic”, his “poems are noted for their extraordinary fantasy and bitter humour” according to the Tate.

This new volume, entitled Donc c’est non (C204.d.4913), is filled with his letters of refusal: to offers to set his poems to music; to inclusion in an anthology of surrealists (“Le Surréalisme est une groupe et un movement dont je n’ai jamais fait partie. … Veuillez donc supprimer mon nom de votre anthologie du Surréalisme et mes poèmes…”); and a variety of offers and requests for publication. Continue reading