A new collection of Spanish history books for the UL

Cambridge University Library is pleased to announce the recent acquisition of several hundred books on Spain’s early modern history. The collection was generously donated by Dr. I.A.A. Thompson, historian of early-modern Spain and author of Crown and cortes: government, institutions and representation in early-modern Castile (582:4.c.95.76), The Castilian crisis of the seventeenth century (582:56.c.95.81) and War and society in Habsburg Spain (582:4.c.95.74), amongst other bestselling titles. Continue reading

European literature in English translation : recent prizewinners

A recent blog post on Brazilian authors at the Paris book fair contrasted the numerous works of contemporary Brazilian literature in French with the far smaller number of titles which have appeared in English. It should be recognised, however, that the Society of Authors, with support from the Arts Council and a number of other funding bodies, administers prizes for published translations into English from Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Spanish and Swedish. Not all prizes are awarded annually, however, which accounts for the different years in the list of awards which follows. It is standard procedure in our catalogue entries to give an access point for all literary translators as well as authors, as well as to provide the title of the original work wherever possible.


Items collected at the UL

Vondel prize for Dutch translation

Winner in 2013: David Colmer for his translation of The misfortunates by Dimitri Verhulst (Portobello). 2012.8.1300

Original: De helaasheid der dingen. [On order]

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Charlie Hebdo, an update

When previously we wrote about the events at Charlie Hebdo, we expressed our amazement about how quickly the first issue following the attacks on their offices was printed, and how rapidly we were able to get a copy. This confirmed views expressed in a previous post as to the speed with which we try to purchase books relating to newsworthy events (in that case, the kidnapping and subsequent assassination of monks at Tibhirine).



Now, approximately six months after the shootings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, it is worth giving a brief update on the state of publishing about the events, and the additional books that we’ve acquired since the attacks from the sizeable number printed. These include:

Avant, pendant, après le 11 janvier : pour une nouvelle écriture collective de notre roman national / Edgar Morin, Patrick Singaïny (C204.d.594), which is aptly placed in a series entitled L’urgence de comprendre.  Continue reading

The Soviet Union through the pages of a children’s journal : the July 2015 Slavonic item of the month


Cover of the Oct. 1947 Murzilka, celebrating the Revolution’s 30th anniversary.  From S950:01.a.122.1

The Russian-language monthly children’s journal Murzilka was launched in 1924 and enjoyed huge popularity throughout the Soviet Union.   In 2014, the publisher TriMag started to produce Arkhiv Murzilki (Archive of Murzilka), and the University Library has recently received the first four books in the set.  Arkhiv Murzilki provides a selected anthology of material from the journal.  While texts are largely reproduced in modern typography, the high level of illustrative matter included is reprinted without changes.  It is a very interesting addition to our Slavonic collections, providing a fascinating and beautiful snapshot of Soviet life as it was portrayed to young children.  Although the readership was juvenile, the journal covered all kinds of areas of Soviet experience, including World War 2 (Murzilka was, amazing, printed throughout the war) and achievements in industry and architecture.  The image below shows the wherewithal for building a paper model of the Palace of the Soviets (never completed in real life), complete with a banner-bearing march at its front.


The build-your-own version of Boris Iofan’s Palace of the Soviets. From S950:01.a.122.1

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The Liberation Collection – some images

The Liberation Collection continues to grow, and new books are being added to the catalogue all the time. The collection contains many items that are important studied in isolation, and many groupings of books which gain in significance when taken together. In addition, the collection contains a large number of books that contain particularly striking or beautiful illustrations. This post will be the first of a number that will highlight individual titles as they come to our attention.

Ceux du tac

Ceux du tac (Liberation.c.68)

Particularly striking because of the subject matter and its simplicity of design, this image from Ceux du Tac : Stadt des KdF Wagens 43-45 / Jean-Charles ; illustrations de Jean Callerot (Liberation.c.68) is a good example of a book with simple black and white drawings that starkly illustrate this memoir of a French man forced to work in Wolfsburg, Lower Saxony (the subject is ably described on the cover with the phrase “La vie des Français en Allemagne”).

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Feminism in Germany and its history

Last weekend, the English women’s football team won against Germany, thus securing third place in this year’s Women’s World Cup. Women’s football has come a long way during the last decade or so, even though the public perception of it still lags behind that of its male counterpart. Football is, of course, only one area amongst many illustrating the still prevailing stereotypes and prejudices regarding the genders. Feminism, however, doesn’t currently have the public attention that it had during the 1970s, but with people like Emma Watson recently speaking out and raising awareness to feminist issues, it is still very much a topic of importance. Historically, feminism has never been one homogenous movement, uniting the needs and requests of ALL women, but rather consisted of various approaches, ideologies and ideas. Contemporary, public feminism in Germany is, however, largely dominated by one person, Alice Schwarzer, thus leaving very little room for broad debate and limiting its reach.


Collage in Wir Alphamädchen (C204.d.907)

To understand contemporary German feminism in contrast to its more colourful and active international version, it is important to take a closer look at its history. The book German Feminist Writings, edited by Patricia A. Hermingshouse and Magda Mueller (245:1.c.200.237), provides a great insight into German feminist thinking over the past 250 years. It is a collection of texts from German-speaking societies that deal with women’s issues, all translated into English. The book gathers thoughts on five different topics in regards to women, namely on education, work, politics, art and literature, and general issues of gender. As its own introduction states, the book does not include some texts that one might expect to be there, but therefore includes other, lesser known writings, that may not always “correspond to contemporary understandings of feminism”, but thus give a further insight into feminist history. The books Über Hexen und andere auszumerzende Frauen by Hanna Behrend and Gisela Notz (C201.d.4538) and Frauensichten: Essays zur Zeitgeschichte by Anne Jüssen (C200.d.3586) both combine various writings and essays about feminism and its historical development. Out of the Shadows: Contemporary German Feminism by Silke Beinssen-Hesse and Kate Rigby (245:1.c.95.60) was published in 1996 and not only provides further historical context about feminism in Germany, but also relates it to international feminism. Continue reading

A Benedictine bookplate designer

The origins of the European exlibris or bookplate lie in the woodblock prints of fifteenth-century Germany, while the first known British bookplate records the gift of books by Sir Nicholas Bacon to Cambridge University Library in 1574. The Library’s collections contain many thousands of diverse examples, intended as a record of ownership but ideally also a sign of the personality and tastes of the user and the artistic abilities of the designer and printer. Sadly a very small proportion of the Library’s holdings are recorded on Newton and a few thousand only on a card index kept in the Rare Books Room. Continue reading