Completing Miłosz, and other new Polish books : the August 2021 Slavonic items of the month

Our long-suffering Polish suppliers took a rush of orders in late June with their usual good grace, despite the need to supply them before the end of our financial year little more than a month later.  Among the resulting new arrivals is a particularly exciting addition – the two-volume Wygnanie i powroty : publicystyka rozproszona z lat 1951-2004, a collection of Nobel laureate Czesław Miłosz’ articles in the press, one of whose editors and contributors is Dr Stanley Bill of MMLL’s Slavonic Studies.  The publication was many years in the making, as Miłosz pieces published all over the world were carefully brought together.  The significance of the nearly 2,000-page-long set means it has been granted what is still a pretty rare post-lockdown open-shelf classmark.  The vast majority of our new arrivals continue to go into the closed but borrowable C200s class, to help us deal promptly with incoming books while still having our numbers in the physical office significantly capped .

Stan has also co-edited Światowa historia literatury polskiej  (A world history of Polish literature), published at the end of 2020, which I am hoping to get as an ebook but will buy in print if an electronic version suitable for institutional purchase doesn’t appear soon enough.

Wyganie i powroty appeared on a trolley full to bursting of Polish arrivals.  Among them were the following (pictures of front covers are provided at the end). Continue reading

Adam Zagajewski : the March 2021 Slavonic items of the month

Last month’s Slavonic blog post looked at recently received new Polish publications, including a book of poems by Adam Zagajewski.  Little did I think then that a month later I would be writing about the poet in the light of his sad death at the age of 75.

Adam Zagajewski spent most of his life in Kraków but was born in what is now Ukraine.  He was born in June 1945 in a Lwów that was still chiefly Polish, but he and his family were caught up in the enormous WW2 population transfers as national borders shifted.  Polish Lwów became Ukrainian L’viv –  just as German Gleiwitz reverted to Polish Gliwice, where Zagajewski’s family moved to and where he grew up.  One of the volumes of poetry we hold in the UL by Zagajewski is called Jechać do Lwowa (To travel to Lwów), and one of our books of essays by him is called Dwa miasta (Two cities; the English translation is also in Cambridge).  The fate of his family and their home and the fate of millions of other similarly displaced families cast a long and complex shadow. Continue reading

New Polish arrivals : the February 2021 Slavonic items of the month

Polish books have been in the press this month – for cheering reasons (the announcement that Olga Tokarczuk’s >1000-page The books of Jacob will published in translation later this year) and for very worrying reasons (the ruling against the writers of Dalej jest noc, a two-volume work about the fate of Polish Jews during the war: a ruling that threatens further Holocaust research).  The UL’s copy of Dalej jest noc is at C214.c.8947-8948 and our copy of the Polish original of Tokarczuk’s epic is at C210.c.2501.

A swathe of Polish books were ordered in late 2019 and the twelve books featured here are among the resulting arrivals. Continue reading

Further to the previous post – the writing on the postcards

Having charitably taken our retired head of department for a walk yesterday, I was rather taken aback when he showed his gratitude by saying that the saddest part of his 2020 Christmas had been the brevity of my blog post about the Russian Christmas cards. He then suggested that I hadn’t transcribed the writing not because I lacked the time but because I couldn’t read it.  Well, hats off to him for pressing the right buttons. Continue reading