Some lockdown-era donations

Our department, Collections and Academic Liaison, works on the lion’s share of donations of books made to the University Library.  Since our numbers in the library building have had to be kept very low since mid-March last year, our focus in the office has chiefly been on cataloguing new bought books, but this post mentions a few donations that we have been able to process recently. Continue reading

369 plans of St Petersburg : the July 2018 Slavonic item of the month

UL staff hand provided to show scale.

The University Library has recently acquired a huge facsimile set of architectural plans of St Petersburg dating from the 1730s and 1740s.  Arkhitekturnye chertezhi i plany Sankt-Peterburga (2017) consists of two 52 x 37 centimetre cases of loose-leaf pages showing plans made for Friedrich Wilhelm von Bergholz, and a smaller commentary book.  The publication is Russian but the plans and drawings come from the Nationalmuseum in Sweden, so the new purchase was made with money from the Slavonic and Scandinavian accessions budgets.

St Petersburg was founded by Peter the Great in 1703.  Bergholz spent several years in the 1720s visiting Russia from the Duchy of Holstein, and the drawings of the new city he later commissioned and which are reprinted in this new set will be of particular interest to those looking at the early history of St Petersburg.  The commentary volume gives the following English summary on its cover:

Drawings and blueprints of buildings, panoramas of streets and embankments of St. Petersburg and its suburbs from 1730s -1740s come from the collection of F.W. Bergholtz that was kept in the Swedish National Museum of Fine Arts, Stockholm. The blueprints (253 originals on 369 tablets) are mostly reproduced to scale, faithfully representing the color as well as notes made by Bergholtz himself. Almost all of them were not previously published.

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The Soviet Union through the pages of a children’s journal : the July 2015 Slavonic item of the month


Cover of the Oct. 1947 Murzilka, celebrating the Revolution’s 30th anniversary.  From S950:01.a.122.1

The Russian-language monthly children’s journal Murzilka was launched in 1924 and enjoyed huge popularity throughout the Soviet Union.   In 2014, the publisher TriMag started to produce Arkhiv Murzilki (Archive of Murzilka), and the University Library has recently received the first four books in the set.  Arkhiv Murzilki provides a selected anthology of material from the journal.  While texts are largely reproduced in modern typography, the high level of illustrative matter included is reprinted without changes.  It is a very interesting addition to our Slavonic collections, providing a fascinating and beautiful snapshot of Soviet life as it was portrayed to young children.  Although the readership was juvenile, the journal covered all kinds of areas of Soviet experience, including World War 2 (Murzilka was, amazing, printed throughout the war) and achievements in industry and architecture.  The image below shows the wherewithal for building a paper model of the Palace of the Soviets (never completed in real life), complete with a banner-bearing march at its front.


The build-your-own version of Boris Iofan’s Palace of the Soviets. From S950:01.a.122.1

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The cahiers of Marcel Proust

In 2008 Brepols began to publish the 75 notebooks used by Marcel Proust between 1908 and his death in 1922 – Marcel Proust : cahiers 1 à 75 de la Bibliothèque nationale de France. The notebooks consist of some 8,000 handwritten pages, which are of fundamental importance for any study of the genesis of À la recherche du temps perdu. Barely a quarter had been published previously.

Proust cahiers - Covers

Proust cahiers – Covers

The cahiers are not being published sequentially. First to appear was cahier 54, which dates for the most part from 1914, approximately halfway through the composition of À la recherche du temps perdu. It deals almost entirely with the disappearance of Albertine and its aftermath. Three more cahiers have been published subsequently, numbers 26, 53 and 71.

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Montaigne – Somme, c’est César

Facsimile page

Facsimile page from “Somme, c’est César–”

The University Library has a remarkable collection of books connected with Michel de Montaigne’s life (1533-1592) and times, including ten volumes from Montaigne’s own library. This collection was assembled by the Montaigne scholar and financier Gilbert de Botton (1935–2000) and came to Cambridge University Library in 2008. An exhibition of books from the Montaigne Library of Gilbert de Botton was held in that same year, and a description of the collection is available through the Rare Books department webpage. A catalogue is available as an appendix to the monograph on the Montaigne Library by Philip Ford (B151.MON.3 and Cam.b.2008.30).

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