History in the making – thoughts on cataloguing the Liberation collection (Part 2)

In the first part of my blog-post on working with the Liberation donation, I explored the fragmented and sometimes contradictory vision of history that the books in the collection offer, each point of view representing only a tiny portion of the actual events. In this second part, I want to expand on the odd feeling I sometimes had that the entire collection itself, despite offering quite a complete view of the period’s publishing landscape in France, was only a fraction of the whole story. I don’t mean to diminish the importance of the collection; indeed, what it doesn’t say is just as interesting from a historical point of view as what it does say.

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History in the making – thoughts on cataloguing the Liberation collection (Part 1)

In 2019, I spent 9 months helping to process the Liberation collection, a donation of over 3000 books in French published at the end of the Second World War. As this project is coming to an end, and with the current atmosphere lending itself to pause and reflection, now seemed a good time to share my experience of working with the collection. This will not be a full and objective review of what you can expect to find in it, but rather a more personal spotlight on what struck me the most.

When I started cataloguing it, I expected the donation would give me a complete and accurate view of what these extraordinary times were like in France. Yet if there is one thing that I will take away from it, it is that it is impossible to have a full understanding of history when you are caught in the middle of it. Continue reading

History and memory: French comic books and graphic novels at Cambridge University Library

Comic books (bandes dessinées or BDs) and graphic novels (romans graphiques) are a very important and successful part of French and Francophone publications. A report on the Bande Dessinée was commissioned by the French Ministry of Culture and published in January 2019, ahead of BD 2020, l’année de la bande dessinée. It contained several proposals for better symbolic and institutional recognition for the “9th art”: a stronger local, national and international dissemination and promotion, and an ambitious education policy. 2020 is thus officially « L’année de la bande-dessinée à la BnF »: the French national Library has engaged in a series of printed and online publications as well as events on the topic (prolonged up to 31st June 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis) and has even developed an app, “BDnF, la Fabrique à BD“, for you to try and create your own comic book. The app is accompanied by tutorials, and examples of creations in different sub-genres (including comic strip, manga, webtoon…), based on a selection of digital images from archival BnF documents. You can also read entire comic books online: during the lockdown, publishers such as La Boite à Bulles or Dargaud opened up some of their collections; every month, you can access a free volume on the website of Les Humanoïdes Associés. You can also read online comic books on the Institut Français digital library Culturethèque (sign up for free with your email address), or browse the digitised collections of the Cité internationale de la bande dessinée et de l’image, based in Angoulème, where takes place a major annual International Comics Festival.

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Droz online: trial access to the series Textes Littéraires Français, Humanisme et Renaissance, and Calvin

Librairie Droz is a Francophone academic publisher founded by Eugénie Droz in Geneva in 1924. It specialises in Medieval and Renaissance studies, literary criticism, art history, history of the book, and social sciences (in particular economic history). Cambridge University Library has a number of standing orders to its print collections, such as Bibliothèque des Lumières, Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartes, Diderot studies, Hautes études du monde gréco-romain, Hautes études médiévales et modernes, Hautes études orientales, Histoire des idées et critique littéraire, Publications romanes et françaises, Seuils de la modernité or Travaux du Grand Siècle. We are starting a one-month trial to its three series available as ebooks: Textes Littéraires Français; Humanisme et Renaissance; and the Calvin database.

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Songs of the Liberation for VE Day

The Chadwyck-Healey Liberation Collection (1944-46) consists mainly of books, but also contains a number of French and English songs and music scores, some with striking illustrations. They appear either in individual leaflets or in larger compilations, including the lyrics and in some cases notated music. On the 70th anniversary of VE Day (Victory in Europe), on 8 May 1945, we would like to shed light on two illustrated covers for songs of the Liberation that we displayed on the occasion of the 2019 Liberation lecture (Normandy ’44 by James Holland).

1PR-LIBERATION-A-00104Le chant de la libération : le chant des partisans, paroles de Maurice Druon et Joseph Kessel, musique de Anna Marly. Paris : Éditions Raoul Breton, 1945. Liberation.a.104

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