Russian Revolution exhibition at the University Library

Futurizm i revoliutsiia (Futurism and revolution) by N. Gorlov; CCD.54.243

This week saw the launch of Revolution : the First Bolshevik Year, a year-long online exhibition which will grow on a monthly basis and will be co-curated with undergraduates.  The first month’s exhibits are also on physical display to readers and the public in the Library’s Entrance Hall for today and tomorrow – Friday 1 and Saturday 2 December 2017.

This exhibition will look at the events of the October Revolution and the year that followed, using a wide range of material from the University Library’s collections to illustrate the dramatic 1917-1918 timeline.  In future months, we will see students from various faculties and departments get involved in the project, giving them the chance to curate books and objects from the Library’s fascinating revolution-era collections.

The first month’s worth of exhibits consists of 11 items in 8 online groups, telling the story of the 27 October/7 November start of the revolution, with postcards of Moscow showing buildings altered by the fighting that took place and foreign accounts of the tumultuous events in Petrograd and beyond, before taking an initial look at the impact of the revolution on the arts.  Regular readers of this blog will be unsurprised to hear that several of these first exhibits (and more of those to come) are from the Catherine Cooke collection.  It is a pleasure to be able to look out items there and further afield in the Library for the exhibition, and I hope that students will feel similarly inspired as they handle this remarkable material.  Monthly updates to the online exhibition will be flagged by further blog posts.

Excerpt from Dvenadtsat’ (The twelve) by Aleksandr Blok with illustrations by Iurii Annenkov; S756.a.91.1

Mel Bach

 

Vsia vlast’ sovetam! : October Revolution and the November 2017 Slavonic item of the month

This month, we look at a little ephemeral piece from the Catherine Cooke collection – a 1977 page-per-day calendar – soon to go on display online and in the Library’s entrance hall, and its entry for the 60th anniversary of the October Revolution.

1977 calendar; CCD.54.329.

When the Bolsheviks initiated their armed overthrow of the Provisional Government, in power since the February Revolution earlier that year, the date in Russia was 25 October 1917.  Elsewhere in Europe, where the Gregorian calendar had long been in force, it was 7 November.  The name of the October Revolution, however, as mentioned also in an earlier post, stuck in both East and West, even after the Gregorian calendar was adopted by the Soviets in 1918.

While the 25 October (the “Old Style” date for the revolution) entry in the 1977 calendar does make reference to the events of 1917, the chief entry for the revolution appears here on the page for 7 November (the “New Style” or Gregorian date).

Continue reading

Cyrillic Mongolian : the October 2017 “Slavonic” item(s) of the month

Cyrillic became the chief alphabet of the Mongolian language in Mongolia in the 1940s and has remained so to this day.  “Mongolia” here refers to the independent country, an area also known as Outer Mongolia.  Inner Mongolia, within Chinese borders, still uses the classic Mongolian alphabet – which, rather mind-bendingly, derives from a Semitic script.  The transition to Cyrillic in Soviet Mongolia from the traditional alphabet took in Latin on the way, in the 1930s.  In 1932, the famous linguist Nikolai Poppe published a text book on the Mongolian language in which he employed both the classic (here shown horizontally but normally written vertically) and Latin alphabets:

Continue reading

Frantsysk Skaryna and 500 years of Belarusian printing : the September 2017 Slavonic item(s) of the month

Earlier this month, the National Library of Belarus (NLB) held a conference to celebrate the history of Belarusian printing, marking the 500th anniversary of Frantsysk Skaryna’s publication of the Psalter – one of many Belarusian initiatives to celebrate Skaryna’s legacy.  Both the UL and Trinity College have contributed to another of NLB’s projects, to draw together as comprehensive as possible a database of scanned copies of all original Skaryna material.  Cambridge has provided digital copies of:

  • a fragment of Skaryna’s 1518 First Book of Kings (1 Samuel); exactly the same fragment is held by both Trinity and the UL (the latter at F151.c.7.10)
  • Skaryna’s 1522 Malaia podorozhnaia knizhitsa (Small travel book) Psalter (UL: F152.e.14.1)

Continue reading

Selecting new Ukrainian literature : the August 2017 Slavonic item(s) of the month

The University Library’s Ukrainian-language holdings have nearly doubled in recent years, from 2,500 or so titles when I first arrived in 2010 to about 4,500 now.  We buy books mainly on history and culture, with literature and philology among our main accession areas.  Selecting new literary titles, however, is often rather a challenge.

Selecting books on literature is one thing.  It is easy enough to spot, where offered, good academic titles produced by respectable presses.  A recent (and ongoing) stand-out example is the Istoriia ukrains’koi literatury (History of Ukrainian literature; 758:65.c.201.5(1-4)) set produced by the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, of whose 12 projected volumes we have the four already published.  These – shown in the photo – cover the 10th century to 1830 (v. 1-3) and the work of Taras Shevchenko (v. 4).

Selecting literary titles of past authors is usually also straightforward because the value of their literary contribution is normally known.  Similarly, buying new titles by established current writers (Zabuzhko, Zhadan, Matios, Andrukhovych, to name a few) is also easy.  Determining which books to buy by modern writers less firmly established, however, is something I always find rather tricky.

Continue reading