Holodomor Memorial Day : the November 2022 Slavonic items of the month

The fourth Saturday of November is Holodomor Memorial Day, which marks the loss of millions of Ukrainians in the man-made famine of 1932/33.  Today, of course, the day of remembrance occurs during another man-made horror in Ukraine, as Russia’s war continues to take a terrible toll on Ukraine and Ukrainians.

We marked the 80th anniversary of the Holodomor in 2013 with a blog post about one particular book (here) and wrote again about the Holodomor in 2019, when the libraries put on a pop-up exhibition to tie in with a Cambridge Ukrainian Studies screening of the film ‘Mr Jones’ about the Welsh journalist whose unflinching reports of the horrors he saw were too easily ignored (blog post here). Continue reading

Simon Armitage on Ukraine : a new acquisition

This week, our blog post about Ukraine and library collections comes from Liam Sims of the Rare Books and Early Manuscripts Department of the University Library.  RBEM occasionally buy modern material such as private press publications, and they recently bought the Solmentes Press book Resistance by poet Simon Armitage.  Read Liam’s post here: https://specialcollections-blog.lib.cam.ac.uk/?p=23530 

Shevchenko and a possible exhibit

At the end of a week full of news from and about Ukraine (not least the shared awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties), today’s blog post is a very quick look at a 1964 book about international praise for another great pride of Ukraine, the writer and artist Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861).

This 55-page book, published in Chicago and printed in New York, came to us in a donation from the Shevchenko Scientific Society in New York, the contents of which we started cataloguing in lockdownSvitova slava Shevchenka (The global glory of Shevchenko) studies the reception of Shevchenko’s work outside Ukraine and was published to mark the 150th anniversary of his death.

The small book covers a lot of ground.  It outlines the reception of Shevchenko in the following languages (using the book’s own order): Russian, Belarusian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian, Slovene, Romanian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Latvian, Estonian, Georgian, Armenian, Hebrew, German, French, English, Danish, and Swedish.  This kind of study is a really useful addition to our collections, helping philologists and others track cultural impact.

Svitova slava Shevchenka passed through my hands today as a possible long-listee for an exhibition we plan to curate with Ukrainian refugees hosted locally – watch this space!

Mel Bach

Writings from Ukraine Lab : the September 2022 Slavonic items of the month

Today, the day when Putin added to his illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 the illegal annexation of four more Ukrainian regions (not fully even under temporary Russian control) following further referenda not worth the paper they were falsified on, our weekly Ukrainian blog post promotes new writing about Russia’s war against Ukraine made possible by the Ukraine Lab initiative, led by the Ukrainian Institute in London.

Continue reading

Mogilizatsiia and Pugacheva

The news about Russia’s war against Ukraine gives us each week new names and/or new vocabulary.  This week, we’ve heard a lot in Russian about mobilizat︠s︡ii︠a︡ (mobilisation) but some of us might also have seen the rise of the term mogilizat︠s︡ii︠a︡, a grimly wry portmanteau of the words mobilisation and – mogila (the grave).  The name for a call-up paper is simply povestka, a word related to “telling” (eg povestʹ means a story).  Judging by news coming from Russia, povestki are arriving in huge numbers and not only to those within the parameters Putin set out that; the scale of mobilisation is far greater than the president will openly admit.

The cover of ‘Alla Pugacheva’ by Alekseĭ Beli︠a︡kov (C202.d.4981)

In terms of names, Alla Pugacheva will either have been abundantly known to you already or also a new thing this week.  Pugacheva was an absolutely huge music star in Soviet times and has remained so in modern Russia (she gets her own two chapters in David MacFadyen’s Red Stars : Personality and the Soviet Popular Song, 1955-1991; you can find other Cambridge library books, not all of them, admittedly, highly academic, about her here).  Earlier this week, Pugacheva wrote an open letter to the Russian authorities requesting that she be added to the list of inoagenty (from inostrannye agenty – foreign agents) to which her husband, Maksim Galkin, a consistent opponent of the “special military operation”, had just been added.  Pugacheva’s dramatic stand against the war may have come over 6 months after Russia invaded Ukraine, but it was pretty seismic.  Until, that is, Putin outdid her with his address about “partial” mobilisation, about the referenda that (properly stage-managed) will allow him to claim parts of Ukraine under Russian control as parts of sovereign Russia, and about the possibility of using a nuclear bomb (no ‘blef‘, he said – no bluff)…

We should end on a light note.  Alla Pugacheva’s husband, Maksim Galkin, became famous as a comedian, singer, and much more around the year 2000.  He won my delighted respect in 2002 when, in response to the rather self-admiring singer Nikolaĭ Baskov’s release of an album called ‘I’m 25!’, Galkin released a rather less earnest album named ‘Well, I’m 26!’  Not many images can be found of the latter, sadly, but here is Baskov’s.

Mel Bach