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)

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Denis Mack Smith, 1920-2017

We were saddened to hear last week of the death of Denis Mack Smith, CBE FBA FRSL, considered to be the greatest English historian of modern Italy. Born on March 3, 1920, he wrote extensively on the history of Italy from the Risorgimento onwards and is best known for his works on Garibaldi, Cavour and Mussolini. He was honoured both in this country and abroad.  An emeritus fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and an honorary fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford and of Peterhouse here in Cambridge, he was named Grand Official of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic in 1996.

Here at the UL, in addition to our extensive holdings of his works, we have numerous items that were part of his personal library and which have been very generously passed on to us by the Bodleian. It has been a pleasure and privilege to unpack, sort and catalogue these items, and I have endeavoured to highlight some of them in past blog posts. Very poignantly, I heard the news of his death, on July 11 2017, whilst unpacking the latest consignment to arrive from Oxford. I shall treasure the opportunity to add these to our collections, and remain extremely grateful both to the Bodleian and to Denis Mack Smith for passing these on.

Bettina Rex

A collection of Spanish broadsides bequeathed by E.M. Wilson

Some 160 Spanish broadsides (known as “aleluyas” in Spanish) have been recently added to the Cambridge Libraries catalogue. They were bequeathed to Cambridge University Library by Edward Meryon Wilson, former professor of Spanish at the University of Cambridge. The collection contains a complete run of one of the longest series of aleluyas ever printed in Spain: the Marés-Minuesa-Hernando series, consisting of 125 numbers. According to Jean-François Botrel [1], the printer Hernando would have acquired this collection from the printers Marés-Minuesa in 1886 and would have started reprinting it shortly afterwards.

These aleluyas can be consulted in the Rare Books Room (classmark F180.bb.8.1). They were printed by Librería Hernando and by Sucesores de Hernando, respectively (the founder and his descendants) between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century (Librería Hernando was founded in 1828; Sucesores de Hernando took over in 1902).

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Richard Boyle’s Spanish Colonial Art book donation

donation-label

Donation label designed by the Faculty of Art & Architecture Library, Cambridge (based on original from Richard Boyle)

Richard Boyle, an enthusiast of Spanish Colonial art history, recently donated 88 Spanish colonial art books to the University Library in honor of his wife Marlene de Block. This is a significant donation, as there were very few volumes on colonial Latin American art and are mostly North American publications. Until now, the University Library and the Centre of Latin American studies collections mainly focused on nineteenth and twentieth-century Latin America.

This exceptional donation includes Spanish publications from Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Mexico, Brazil and other Latin American countries, unavailable in most European national libraries. This is a unique opportunity for the development of colonial Latin American art studies in the United Kingdom. Continue reading

German scholar Leonard Forster in Königsberg

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The eminent German scholar Leonard Forster (1913-1997) was the fifth Schröder Professor of German from 1961 until 1979. His best-known work is probably the Penguin Book of German Verse (1957.7.3347), first published in 1957. But his main research areas were German baroque literature and Renaissance studies.

Leonard Forster was a very active user of Cambridge University Library. He regularly recommended books for purchase but also donated numerous volumes to the library.  A particularly large donation of his books was received in 1994. The titles of the donated books show his wide interests. They include works on Dadaism, contemporary Austrian experimental poetry and the plays of Roswitha von Gandersheim. In many volumes Leonard Forster noted when and where he had acquired them. Continue reading