The Czech twentieth century in new donations : the February 2015 Slavonic item(s) of the month

Front cover of Venkov v českém filmu 1945-1969 (The countryside in Czech film 1945-1969; C203.d.9215)

While the University Library no longer actively buys Czech-language material, it has since 2012 been the very fortunate recipient of donations from the library of the Ústav pro Studium Totalitních Režimů (Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes) in Prague.  Most address 20th-century Czech history and all are valuable additions to our collections.

The focus of the Library’s Slavonic acquisitions budget is of necessity on material produced in languages currently taught in the University – Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish.  In the past, two other East European languages in particular were well catered for; these were Hungarian (we have over 8,000 Hungarian items in the Library) and Czech (over 15,000).  When these languages ceased to be taught in the University, the Library also wound down active collection in them.  East European material in languages other than Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish, then, is normally received nowadays only through donations.  As with all such languages, we are very glad of material which looks at the history or culture of the country in question.

In terms of Czech, we have been very fortunate to become the regular recipients of donations from the Ján Langoš Library of the Ústav pro Studium Totalitních Režimů (USTR; Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes) in Prague.  Since 2012, we have very generously been sent several dozen items.  The research section of the USTR focuses on the “examination and impartial evaluation” (quotation from their website) of the Czech experience of fascism and Communism, and most publications received by Cambridge concern this area.  Almost all feature lengthy bibliographies, and every item is a welcome addition to the catalogue.

Among the donations we’ve received are three periodical titles, one in English and two predominantly in Czech:

BIC : behind the Iron Curtain : review of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Czech Republic (L611.b.53)
Pamět̕ a dějiny (Memory and history; L610.b.80)
Securitas imperii (donated volumes (2013 onwards) at L611.c.81)

The pictures on this page show several recent monographic additions to the catalogue.  The first shows Petr Slinták and Hana Rottová’s Venkov v českém filmu 1945-1969 : filmová tvář kolektivizace (The countryside in Czech film 1945-1969 : the cinematic face of collectivisation; C203.d.9215), which studies the changes in Czech rural society and economy after the Second World War through analysis of films from the period.  Its cover image is a still from the film Smuteční slavnost (Funeral ceremony), which is based on the 1967 book by Eva Kantůrková.  The film was made within a couple of years of the book’s publication, but its release was blocked and it was shown for the first time in Czechoslovak cinemas only 20 years later.  The Library’s first edition of Kantůrková’s book is at 758:43.d.95.305.

The front covers of further USTR donations.

The second picture, above, shows six further recently added books.  From left to right, their subjects are: a Czech priest’s experience of imprisonment by both the Nazis and Communists (C209.c.2516); an exhibition about post-Second World War Catholic persecution (2015.10.17); rural collectivisation in Czechoslovakia (C209.c.2524); discipline in the Czechoslovak Communist Party (C209.c.2550); radio and television personalities in Czechoslovakia (C209.c.2346); and counterculture under totalitarianism (C203.d.9214).

All material donated by the USTR and catalogued so far can be found by running the search activated by clicking here.

The Library’s 15,000+ Czech books stretch from the 15th century to the present day.  A full list can be provided to those interested, by e-mailing  We also hold over 3,000 in Slovak, for which a list can also be provided.

The USTR’s website is with an English variant (from which the quotation above is taken) here:

Mel Bach

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