Mid-century Ukrainian book covers : the June 2018 Slavonic item(s) of the month

In the past few years, the University Library has been very fortunate in receiving the private libraries of two late British Ukrainians – Peter Yakimiuk and Teodor Kolassa.  Together, these donations have added hundreds of chiefly diaspora publications to the Library’s 20th-century Ukrainian collection.  This blog post celebrates a few of the many eye-catching book covers to be found amongst them.  All but the last of the six items detailed here were produced in Europe within a few years of the end of World War 2.  Please click on each image to see a larger version.

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The Bowlt-Misler Collection : Russian and Soviet art history

Professor Nicoletta Misler and Professor John Bowlt in the University Librarian’s offices.

Professor John Bowlt, a highly distinguished art historian of late Imperial and early Soviet visual culture, and the 2015-16 Cambridge Slade Professor of Fine Art, has announced that he will donate his library to the University Library as the Bowlt-Misler Collection.  This is an extremely exciting development.  Professor Bowlt has built his library into an astounding resource over the course of his career, and it now numbers many thousands of books, periodicals and catalogues.

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Fragile propaganda : the March 2018 Slavonic item of the month

Last month, the CamCREES Revolution lecture series audience enjoyed a beautifully illustrated talk on Soviet porcelain.  Petr Aven spoke about the development of porcelain work in the Soviet Union, with examples from his own superlative collection.  This blog post looks at the collection’s staggering 3-volume catalogue, generously presented by Mr Aven to the University Library after his talk.  The subject of porcelain as a medium for Soviet propaganda is fascinating, and the catalogue is an exquisite and important addition to the Library on the topic.

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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