Exit, pursued by a warehouse operative : Soviet drama and the Library Storage Facility

Inside the new Library Storage Facility

The Library Storage Facility (LSF), whose contents can be ordered to the Library but cannot be borrowed, was opened in June 2018.  By the end of 2019, the store’s astonishing 4,000,000-book capacity will be one third full.  We in Collections and Academic Liaison have started sending a few books there, and this blog post looks at the what, the why, and the how.

Continue reading

Love for three oranges : the November 2018 Slavonic items of the month

The University Library recently received several dozen books from the library of the late Russian drama critic and Cambridge graduate Edward (Ted) Braun.  Professor Braun studied in particular the work of Vsevolod Meierkhol’d, commonly anglicised as Meyerhold.  Meierkhol’d published an influential journal of literary and critical texts called Liubov’ k trem apel’sinam (Love for three oranges) over the course of 1914 to 1916.  The UL had only one volume, so we were delighted to be offered all those collected by Professor Braun.  We now hold all but the first issue.

Continue reading

Russian émigrés on paper : a new exhibition online and in the Library’s Entrance Hall

A new exhibition of Russian literary publications featuring handwritten dedications has opened today in the Library’s entrance hall and online.  Out of the shadows : post-1917 Russian emigration rediscovered has been curated by Vera Tsareva-Brauner of the University’s Slavonic Studies Section.  Vera found the first of the dedications while researching Nobel laureate Ivan Bunin, an unearthing which led to the five other inscriptions being brought to light again.  It is wonderful to be able to celebrate these re-discovered treasures.

The six dedications (three by Bunin, one by Teffi, two by Tolstoi)

The exhibition marks the centenary of the start of the Russian Exodus. Following the revolutions of 1917, as many as three million people fled their native land, among them many of the best representatives of early 20th-century Russian culture. Most of the émigrés, including the writers Ivan Bunin, Aleksei Tolstoi and Nadezhda Teffi fled to Western Europe, where their determination to preserve their cultural heritage saw the effective creation of a Russia Abroad. The books which feature in the physical and online exhibition and which have never been shown before have original autographs by Bunin, Teffi, and Tolstoi.

The books will be on display in the Entrance Hall until 30 November 2018.  The permanent online exhibition can be accessed here:  https://exhibitions.lib.cam.ac.uk/outoftheshadows/

Vera Tsareva-Brauner and Mel Bach

 

Wrangel in ink : the October 2018 Slavonic item of the month

The Revolution exhibits

The final items have recently been added to the Revolution : The First Bolshevik Year online exhibition.  I am extremely grateful to the students and librarians who provided many of the captions.  Amongst the latest additions is a book which contains a written dedication by the White commander Petr Vrangel’ (commonly Wrangel) – a fascinating re-discovery.

from ‘Russkie v Gallipoli’

Глубокоуважаемому Николаю Николаевичу Шебеко – повесть о крестном пути тех, кто вынес на чужбину и верно хранит национальное русское знамя. Ген. Врангель

To the esteemed Nikolai Nikolaevich Shebeko – a tale about the via dolorosa of those who brought out to a foreign land and faithfully preserve the national Russian flag. Gen. Wrangel

Shebeko had served as a diplomat under the tsar and fought with the Whites.  By the time this book, on the Russians in Gallipoli, had been published in Berlin in 1923, Shebeko had settled in France.  Wrangel had led the southern White forces and remained a hugely significant figure in emigration.  He eventually moved to Belgium, via Yugoslavia where he founded ROVS, the Russian All-Military Union which served to unite émigré officers and soldiers and which attracted a great deal of Soviet state interest.  Soviet involvement was certainly suspected in Wrangel’s death in Belgium in 1928 at the age of 49.

Wrangel’s writing proved quite a challenge to decipher, certainly for me.  Sincere thanks go to Richard Davies of the Leeds Russian Archive who provided a transcription with little apparent effort and much-appreciated speed.

A higher-resolution image of the dedication can be found here: https://exhibitions.lib.cam.ac.uk/revolutionthefirstbolshevikyear/artifacts/a-trace-of-wrangel/

Mel Bach

Lost and found : two September 2018 Slavonic items of the month

Last week, two 19th-century Russian books were brought to me by a Rare Books colleague who had found by chance that they had no record in the online catalogue. An invisible title is a librarian’s (and reader’s) nightmare – without catalogue records, we may as well be without books.  Now that these two volumes, lost to readers (except those still dipping into the old physical guard book catalogues) for decades, have been found, I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate them in a blog post.

Continue reading