For accompanying coin, enquire in Map Room : the July 2019 Slavonic item of the month

Last week, I decided to tackle a set about major exhibitions and exhibition spaces in Moscow which had been in the Slavonic cataloguing backlog for some time.  How hard a cataloguing challenge could it be?  4 volumes, 6 accompanying discs, 3 accompanying sheets, and 1 accompanying commemorative coin later, I can confirm that the answer was – very.

The coin, front and back.

Cambridge’s copy of VSKhV–VDNKh–VVT︠S︡ is, according to Library Hub (the very new replacement for COPAC), the only one held in the country, which is unsurprising given that it was published in a small run not for general sale.  The set was produced to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Moscow’s extraordinary exhibition complex, in 2009, although the UL was only able to obtain a copy years later.

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Polish archaeologists and Palmyra : the June 2019 Slavonic item of the month

The book’s cover, showing a digital reconstruction of the temple of Allat

In early 2016, a few months after the destruction of much of Palmyra, our former colleague Josh (now at UC Irvine) wrote about Palmyra and Henri Seyrig. A new arrival, unpacked this week and purchased at the request of a researcher in the Classics department, is a good reminder of the Polish contribution to Palmyra research.

The requested book, Palmyra by Michał Gawlikowski, was written in 2010.  It is only 131 pages long and well illustrated and provides a general introduction (in Polish) to what was then still a well-maintained site of great importance.  The book starts with a history of Polish involvement in the site, dating back to 1959 when Kazimierz Michałowski, the founder and head of the Polish Centre of Mediterranean Archaeology, set up an archaeological team there.  The Polish team at Palmyra was later led by Gawlikowski, from 1973, and suspended with the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011.  Palmyra ends with a bibliography, with many entries for Michałowski and Gawlikowski; some of those by the latter were co-written with Khaled al-Asaad, once chief archaeologist of Palmyra, who would be murdered by ISIS in 2015. Continue reading

Russia abroad : the May 2019 Slavonic items of the month

Earlier this week, Vera Tsareva-Brauner gave a talk at the University Library about Ivan Bunin and other Russian émigré literary figures, and this blog post looks at a couple of recent arrivals to the UL about the émigré Russian world.

The Russian Revolutions of 1917 and the ensuing Civil War saw the departure from Russia of many hundreds of thousands of people, many significant intellectual figures among them.  The Revolution-related exodus is commonly named the First (or White) Wave.  The Second Wave followed World War 2 and the Third Wave took place in the later decades of the Soviet period.

In 1995, the Dom russkogo zarubezhʹia imeni Aleksandra Solzhenitsyna (the Alexander Solzhenitsyn House of Russia Abroad) opened in Moscow.  One of the House’s activities is the publication of various research titles and source material about the various Soviet emigration waves.  An advanced search in iDiscover for the keywords Dom russkogo zarubezhʹia Solzhenitsyna in the publisher field brings up, at the time of writing, 14 results.  Among these, the newest arrival is 1917 god v istorii i sudʹbe rossiĭskogo zarubezhʹi︠a︡ (1917 in the history and fate of Russian émigrés; C215.c.2825), a set of papers from a conference held in 2017.  The book’s cover, featuring a detail from Konstantin Iuon’s stunning Novaia planeta painting (which also provided the cover image for the Royal Academy’s Revolution exhibition catalogue), is shown here.  The conference papers are divided into three sections:

  • 1916 and Russian émigrés : politics, ideology, culture : historical significance and everyday practices
  • The intellectual contribution of Russian émigrés to cultural progress (“развитие цивилизационного процесса”)
  • The genealogy of memory : family histories, museums, archives, cemeteries of Russian émigrés

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Out of the shadows : a talk on the UL’s Bunin book dedications (5pm, 28 May : all welcome)

Last autumn, the University Library exhibited several books signed by major Russian authors such as Ivan Bunin.  Vera Tsareva-Brauner, of the University’s Slavonic Section, who found the autographs, will talk about her extraordinary discoveries on 28 May at 5pm in the Library.  The talk is open to all.

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Dobro pozhalovat’ v SSSR! (Welcome to the USSR!) : the April 2019 Slavonic item of the month

A recent Russian arrival to the University Library takes as its subject tourism in the Soviet Union.  Skvoz “zheleznyi zanaves” : See USSR! : inostrannye turisty i prizrak potemkinskikh derevenʹ (Through the Iron Curtain : See USSR!  : foreign tourists and the spectre of Potemkin villages; C215.c.1563) is by Igor’ Orlov and Aleksei Popov.  Visitors to the Soviet Union normally saw the country in carefully choreographed tours arranged by the state agency Intourist.  Such control made sure that the tourists saw strictly what they were meant to see, hence the mention in the book’s titles of Potemkin villages – shorthand for ensuring that appearances support the desired narrative (the term comes from Catherine the Great’s favourite, Potemkin, pulling the wool over her eyes by assembling fake village fronts during a tour).

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