A splendid buffet : the June 2020 Slavonic item of the month

This month, I wanted to draw attention to a growing open access resource called Prozhito which provides diaries written by the great and the good and the ordinary.  At the time of writing, Prozhito (“Lived”, the passive past participle) contains diaries in Russian by 5755 authors, in Ukrainian by 104, and in Belarusian by 58.

A volunteer-led initiative which started in 2014, Prozhito has since 2019 been a joint project with the European University in St Petersburg.  The latter’s English-language summary of the project is here.  The Russian-language Prozhito “About” page is here.

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Inspektor Mors and Mis Marpl : the May 2020 Slavonic item(s) of the month

Having initially wanted our lockdown-era posts to focus on e-available material only, I am now going one step yet further away myself by writing about books held by the UL neither electronically nor physically…  This post instead looks at Slavonic translations of British detective fiction I have picked up for myself over the years.  Getting used to reading in another language can take time, and I for one found that worrying about the plot as well as the words really held me up.  What I came to discover was that reading a familiar detective novel translated into the language took the pressure off, and it’s a trick I have stuck to ever since. Continue reading

The geneticist in Russia : the March 2020 Slavonic item of the month

March has already finished?  This blog post is late??  It is not so easy to tell at the moment…  The subject of this post, the early geneticist William Bateson (1861-1926), might have considered my disorganisation a “trait”.  What must he have thought of the avant-garde when he visited Soviet Russia?

The avant-garde at work

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Painting the nightmare of Auschwitz : the February 2020 Slavonic item of the month

This year will see many 75th anniversaries relating to the Second World War, and one of the most poignant – the liberation of Auschwitz by the Soviets – has already occurred, in late January.  We recently received an important addition to Cambridge’s significant holdings about the Holocaust and Auschwitz in particular, in the form of a catalogue of works by David Olere, Ten, który ocalał z Krematorium III (The one who survived Crematorium III), based on an exhibition held at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in 2018-2019.

Olere, a French Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1943, was one of the very few Sonderkommandos to survive the war.  His artistic abilities, employed by Nazi personnel to illustrate letters home and produce other artwork, saved him from the regular killing of Sonderkommando generations.  Olere was in the death march from Auschwitz in January 1945 and was liberated only in May, in Ebensee.  He had spent nearly two years in Auschwitz, the witness of endless and appalling atrocities.  By the time he reached France and home, his “health was ruined and when he tried to recount to his wife the things he had seen, she was convinced that he had lost his mind” (from the catalogue; my emphasis).

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