NEW ACQUISITION: The Spanish Biographical Dictionary from the Real Academia de la Historia

Four of the fifty volumes

Four of the fifty volumes

Cambridge University Library has acquired the long-awaited Diccionario biográfico español.  First published in 2009 by the Real Academia de la Historia (RAH), the dictionary is a major reference work with over 40,000 biographies of major figures in the Hispanic world. The fifty-volume work is an essential resource for anyone interested in the history of Spain, the Americas and the territories that were part of the Spanish Crown. It features entries for contemporary figures as well as those from the past, spanning from the fourth century B.C. up to the twentieth century.  This dictionary is the culmination of work which began in the eighteenth century, when the Real Academia de la Historia started work on the Diccionario histórico-crítico de España, of which only two volumes were published in 1802. Continue reading

Slavonic item of the month : June 2014

The subject for June 2014 is Iurii Andropov, the Soviet head of state in the wake of Brezhnev’s death, who was born 100 years ago in June 1914.  When Andropov died nearly 70 years later, in February 1984, he had been in power for only 15 months. We look at two fictional works about him.

Cover of Iurii Teshkin's /Andropov i drugie/(Andropov and others; 9003.d.1849 )

Cover of Iurii Teshkin’s Andropov i drugie (Andropov and others; 9003.d.1849

Although Iurii Vladimirovich Andropov led the Soviet Union for only a short time, his was already a well-known name when he took power in late 1982.  He had been linked to the repression of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 (Andropov was the Soviet ambassador to Hungary from 1953 to 1956) and to other international military interventions such as the putting down of the Prague Spring in February 1968.  By 1968, Andropov had become the head of the KGB, a position he was to hold for 15 years.

On the basis of Andropov’s pre-leadership career, then, he was seen as a Soviet hawk – and one with a KGB background to boot.  Stories from his leadership, though, suggest a possibly more liberal side.  A search for Andropov Gorbachev on our LibrarySearch+ catalogue of electronic resources, for example, comes up with a hit for a Guardian article from 1991 which reports a revelation by a government aide that Andropov saw the progressive Gorbachev as his successor and not the conservative Chernenko.

The uncertainty of what Andropov might have achieved had he not died so quickly after coming to power might, then, explain why two of the University Library’s holdings about Andropov are works of fiction.

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