New CAIRN Francophone ebooks available through Cambridge University Library

CAIRN is a Francophone online platform originally founded by four French and Belgian publishers: Belin, De Boeck, La Découverte and Erès, focusing on social sciences and humanities periodicals. More recent partners include the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the University of Liège and the Centre National du Livre. In the past few years, especially since COVID (when the platform offered the library free access to all their ebooks for the month of May 2020), we started acquiring CAIRN ebooks, as well as receiving statistics about our readers’ attempts to access ebook titles on the platform.

CAIRN ebooks

Based on these information, and in order to continue diversifying the range of French and Francophone material available to our readers, while also taking into account the pricing of the ebooks, we recently made a bulk purchase of more than 200 titles selected from the Cairn catalogue, including both new and older publications that we did not already have in print. Members of Cambridge University Library now have access to about 450 CAIRN ebooks titles, available through Raven, either on iDiscover, or directly on the CAIRN platform and other websites, if you use the Lean library plugin. We are now in the process of upgrading online catalogue records for the newly acquired ebooks, which includes adding subject headings.  Continue reading

Alchemical Connections in the UL: Jung and Eastern Alchemy

In my previous blog post, I examined a selection of the texts in the Bibliotheca Hermetica series, a recent addition to our catalogue. In this post, I wish to take a wider view of alchemy, and how the material connects people of different time periods. History is inherent to each manuscript, not only detailing the provenance and creation of each work, but also how the content shaped the lives of the people who read it. In this way, the collection of alchemical texts in the UL is a rich fabric of interwoven connections and textual interpretations, which spans centuries of academic understanding, creating almost a visual mind-map of human curiosity and giving the impetus to discover and learn more.

Carl Jung, circa 1935.

Carl Jung, circa 1935.

One particular example of how ideas interconnect across time, is Carl Jung, the Swiss 20th century psychiatrist, and The Secret of the Golden Flower (9840.b.17). Although psychology and alchemy may appear to be vastly different fields of enquiry, Jung’s approach to his specialism had a lot in common with the historical alchemists he researched. Like them, he was concerned with the unification of opposites, focusing primarily on the conscious and the unconscious, a theme he noted in a variety of Eastern archetypical images. Jung’s concept of individuation is also reminiscent of Western alchemical practices. In differentiating the self into conscious and unconscious elements, Jung was applying to psychology techniques which alchemists had applied to early approaches to natural science. Continue reading

The newly donated Bibliotheca Hermetica series: Alchemical Texts in the University Library

As part of a large donation from emeritus Art History Professor Jean Michel Massing, Cambridge University Library now possesses 13 works from the collection Bibliotheca Hermetica, an illustrated, encyclopedic collection of works on alchemy, astrology, and magic, dating across the Medieval to the late Renaissance period. Directed by René Alleau, with translations into Modern French, this collection, published in the 1970s, hoped to contribute to a greater understanding of traditional hermetic teachings.

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French-speaking literary prizewinners 2020-2021

The importance of literary prizes in the French cultural landscape can be measured by  the sheer number of them. There are many mainland prizes, which tend to concentrate on books written by French authors, but also many prizes issued in French overseas regions; these often widen the field by considering French-speaking writers of different nationalities. We acquire a wide selection of these prizes every year. Beyond France, mainland and overseas, we also keep up-to-date with the latest winners of the Tunisian prize Comar d’Or and of the international Prix des 5 continents de la Francophonie.

Below is a list of the prizewinning books we acquired in the past two years. For a presentation of some of the prizes, see this blog post.   

Comar d’Or: 2020: Merminus infinitif : roman by Samir Makhlouf C216.c.9081; 2021: Le chat et le scalpel by Soufiane Ben Farhat (on order)

Grand prix du roman de l’Académie française: 2020: La grande épreuve : roman by Étienne de Montety C216.c.8723; 2021: Mon maître et mon vainqueur : roman by François-Henri Désérable C206.d.9685

Grand Prix du Roman Métis: 2020: Un monstre est là, derrière la porte : roman by Gaëlle Bélem C206.d.5375; 2021: D’amour et de guerre by Akli Tadjer C218.c.3277

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Japanese history, arts and literature: cultural encounters in Cambridge University Library’s Francophone collections

Cambridge University Library is holding until the end of May Samurai, History & Legend, a fascinating and beautiful exhibition of Japanese manuscripts and (illustrated) printed texts and images. Cambridge UL holds one of the most important historic Japanese book collections in the UK. Although Japan is not at the core of the University Library French language collections, and we are constrained by budget limitations, over the years we have collected many Francophone publications on different aspects of Japanese history and culture. Here is a glimpse of some of the titles we have acquired.

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