Romanian in the University Library


The title page of a 1787 Romanian publication in Cyrillic (7760.d.101; record soon to be upgraded)

Romanian publications held by the Library number only a few thousand, but active acquisition of Romanian books has recently been re-introduced thanks to two strands of work in the Modern and Medieval Languages Faculty: an international project on the Romanian avant-garde led by Dr Jean Khalfa and the linguistics work led by Professor Adam Ledgeway.

A Romance language in Eastern Europe, Romanian is largely accessible to those with a knowledge of Latin or modern Romance languages but has assimilated a significant amount of Slavonic loan words from its immediate neighbours.  Romanian even used the Cyrillic alphabet until the late 19th century (the Library of Congress provides a specific transliteration sheet for early Cyrillic Romanian).  Added to the picture is Moldovan, earlier known as Moldavian.  During the Soviet period, Moldovan was treated as a separate language, but was formally recognised by the government of Moldova in 2013 as Romanian, and all catalogue records now record the language of Moldova past and present as that.  It too is now written in the Latin alphabet, although Cyrillic was also used in Soviet times – covered in another Library of Congress transliteration guide.  The Cyrillic alphabet is still used in the disputed area of Transdniestria (whose authorised name for cataloguers is the Dniester Moldovan Republic).

The figures below show the number of Romanian-language books in the University Library, with further columns to show the numbers of these books published in Romania and Moldova against the number of books published in those countries in all languages.  Only 100 or so books in Romanian were published outside these two countries, largely in the West, but many books were published in Romania and Moldova in languages other than Romanian.  In the case of Moldova, most non-Romanian publications are in Russian.  The picture is much less clear in Romania – English, French, and German are particularly prevalent, with many other languages also represented, including Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, and Italian.

 Period Romanian, published anywhere Romanian, published in Romania Any language, published in Romania Romanian, published in Moldova Any language, published in Moldova
1500s 0 0 3 0 0
1600s 6 5 9 0 0
1700s 4 3 15 0 0
1800s 120 89 134 0 0
1900s 75 73 95 0 0
1910s 71 65 86 0 0
1920s 98 93 138 2 2
1930s 91 87 142 0 2
1940s 27 24 55 0 0
1950s 167 157 220 1 18
1960s 692 667 930 12 61
1970s 685 645 1010 14 110
1980s 758 700 940 35 255
1990s 572 489 656 63 128
2000s 753 730 904 13 25
2010s 98 92 142 1 2

There is a clear jump in figures in the 1960s, and the relatively high level of collecting is sustained through to the first decade of the 21st century.  It is no coincidence that this ties in perfectly with the period during which my predecessor, Ray Scrivens, was at the University Library (Romanian is covered by the Slavonic team).  Ray had studied Romanian and he collected material with enthusiasm and expertise.  The increasing pressure on budgets saw the Library’s Romanian acquisitions go slowly down, if seeing a brief peak again in the 2000s.  By the time of my arrival in 2010, Romanian had become a language rarely actively acquired, although donations of academic books about the culture and history of the Romanian-speaking area were (and still are) very happily received.

Romanian_Avant garde covers

The covers of 2015.11.1881 and 2014.11.348

Recently, Romanian has started to gain ground again, even if the figures are still fairly small against the purchases of the past.  In the last 12 months, several dozen books have been bought.  These acquisitions have been based entirely on the requests and recommendations of two Modern and Medieval Languages academics.  Professor Adam Ledgeway of the Department of Italian teaches and researches Romanian linguistics, so some books have been bought in this area.  Professor Ledgeway has also helped the Library acquire a very significant donation in the form of the Romanian Academy’s 19-volume 2010 Dicționarul limbii române (Dictionary of the Romanian language), provided as a gift by the National Bank of Romania.  The set can be found in the Reading Room, at R785.R27.

The majority of recent Romanian acquisitions relate to a project which Dr Jean Khalfa of the Department of French is working on with colleagues from France and Romania – the digitisation of material relating to the Romanian avant-garde.  A workshop on the project is taking place in Cambridge on Monday the 6th of June.  Click here for further details.   The books we have bought so far to support Dr Khalfa’s work include art catalogues, such as the two whose covers are shown above (the first is a retrospective of the artist and architect Marcel Iancu, the second an exhibition of WW2-era Romanian Jewish art), and works of and about the literary avant-garde.  Below is a list of all the books we have purchased so far in connection with the project.  In the next few days, Avangarda literară Românească will also be added – generously donated by Dr Khalfa himself.

Avangarda românească și complexul periferiei : primul val / Paul Cernat.
Avangarda românească în arhivele Siguranței / ediție îngrijită și prefață de Stelian Tănase.
Avant-gardes et modernités : Brancusi, Duchamp, Brauner, Voronca, Tzara & comp. / Cristian-Robert Velescu.
Avangardismul românesc / Ovidiu Morar.
Artiști plastici germani din România : între tradiție, modernitate și compromis ideologic : anii 1930-1944 / Gudrun-Liane Ittu.
Tradiție, modernitate și avangardă în arta plastică a germanilor din Transilvania la sfârșitul secolului al XIX-lea și începutul secolului XX : reflectate în publicații / Gudrun-Liane Ittu.
Influențe ale futurismului italian asupra avangardei românesti : sincronie și specificitate / Emilia Drogoreanu.
Domni, tovarăși, camarazi : o evoluție a avangardei române / Dan Gulea.
Noi studii ale avangardei : comunicări prezentate în cadrul Simpozionului desfășurat la Muzeul de Artă Cluj-Napoca, 9-10 noiembrie 2006 / volum îngrijit de Călin Stegerean
Destine la răscruce : artiști evrei în perioada Holocaustului : 11 oct 2010-13 feb 2011, București.
Avangardismul românesc / George Bădărău.
Scriitori evrei din România / Ovidiu Morar.
Patimile după Victor Brauner / Emil Nicolae.
Victor Brauner şi însoțitorii : incursiuni în avangardă / Emil Nicolae.
Pictori evrei din România : 1848-1948 / studiu introductiv și selecția lucrărilor, Amelia Pavel.
Victor Brauner : la izvoarele operei / Emil Nicolae.
Victor Brauner / Amelia Pavel.
Întâlniri cu Marcel Iancu / [selecție de] Geo Șerban.
Poeme, 1966-2011 / Ion Pop.
Scara din bibliotecă / Ion Pop.
Ion Pop–70 / Sanda Cordoș (coordonator).
Prezentări / Sașa Pană ; ediție îngrijită de Vladimir Pană și Ion Pop ; cuvânt înainte de Ion Pop.
A scrie și a fi : Ilarie Voronca și metamorfozele poeziei / Ion Pop.
Avangarda în literatura română / Ion Pop.
Din avangardă spre ariergardă / Ion Pop.
Interviuri : între biografie şi bibliografie / Ion Pop.
Nichita Stănescu : spațiul și măștile poeziei / Ion Pop.
Avangarda românească / antologie, studiu introductiv, cronologie, referințe critice și note de Ion Pop ; postfață de Eugen Simion.
D. Trost : între realitatea visului și visul ca realitate / Michael Finkenthal.
Sesto Pals, poetul prăpastiei : o viață în secol / Michael Finkenthal.
Lumea evreiască în literatura română = Representations of the Jewish world in Romanian literature / Camelia Crăciun, editor.
Știința modernă, muza neștiută a suprarealiștilor / Petrișor Militaru ; prefață de Basarab Nicolescu.
Capcanele istoriei : elita intelectuală românească între 1930 și 1950 / Lucian Boia.
Istorie și memorie evreiască : volum omagial dedicat doamnei Dr. Lya Benjamin / editori, Anca Ciuciu, Camelia Crăciun.
Noi perspective în istoriografia evreilor din România / ediție îngrijită de Liviu Rotman (coordonator), Camelia Crăciun, Ana-Gabriela Vasiliu.
Eseuri despre iudaism ; Mărturii de ieri și de azi / Eugen Relgis ; ediție îngrijită de Camelia Craciun și Leon Volovici ; prefață, Leon Volovici.
Sadismul adevărului / Sașa Pană ; ediție îngrijită, introducere și notă asupra ediției de Ion Pop.
Gellu Naum : aventura suprarealistă / Silviu Gongonea.
Ion Pop : șapte decenii de melancolie și literatură / volum coordonat de Ștefan Borbély.
Obiecte psihice / Alexandru Ovidiu Vintilă.
La Echinox, în atelier : corespondență Marian Papahagi–Ion Pop, 1969-1981.
Viața romanțată a lui Dumnezeu / Sașa Pană ; ediție îngrijită, prefață și notă asupra ediției de Ion Pop.
Pagini bizare / Urmuz ; notă asupra ediției de Ion Pop ; postfață de Corin Braga.

Mel Bach


One thought on “Romanian in the University Library

  1. Interesting. As far as art history publications in Romania are concerned, those (particularly on the churches and monasteries) published in English, French and German in the 1960s and 1970s are much more detailed and scholarly in many cases than those published in the past twenty years (and the same is true for Macedonia and Serbia where fortunately I travelled in the 1960s when the guide books to their monuments were still excellent and published in English, French and German). During the 60s and 70s these were extensively published for the educated tourist to these countries. I found very few of the churches and monasteries I visited last year in Romania had any guide books worth buying – even if they had them, they were trivial pamphlets lacking in detail and certainly not scholarly.
    – Nigel Morgan.

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