I was recently delighted to catalogue and add to our collections a number of rare German philosophy and literature titles. These rather special books came from the library of the eminent literary scholar, the late Professor George Steiner who sadly died earlier this year. Numerous obituaries have been published outlining his career and achievements. George Steiner had finally settled in Cambridge after a long career which took him from the University of Chicago to Harvard, Oxford, Princeton and Geneva. Living in Cambridge he became a regular user of the University Library and it was his wish that some of the most precious volumes of his library should come eventually to the University Library.
Last Saturday Germany marked the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with numerous events. It was in the night of November 9, 1989 that the Berlin Wall was opened and East German citizens could freely visit the western part of Berlin. In the coming days, the whole border between East and West Germany would be opened. The fall of the Berlin Wall was the culmination of the dramatic events of autumn 1989 when the citizens of East Germany took to the streets to demand freedom of speech and the press and the freedom to travel. In October 1989 when the communist leadership wanted to celebrate 40 years of East Germany the citizens found their voice and made their demands heard. Within a year East Germany was unified with West Germany in a process of rapid democratization.
200 years ago, on December 30, 1819, Theodor Fontane, one of the best-known 19th century German authors, was born. He grew up in Neuruppin, a small town in the Mark Brandenburg north of Berlin. He trained and worked as a pharmacist before embarking on a literary career, starting as a journalist before becoming one of the most prolific novelists of the 19th century.
The 200th anniversary of his birth is being celebrated throughout this year with numerous exhibitions and events in the Brandenburg region (more details here). The main exhibition is being held in Neuruppin from March 30 to December 30 and aims to give an insight into Fontane’s authorial practice. This exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue which the library has acquired (C202.b.3557). Continue reading
In preparation for the pop-up exhibition “Queering the UL” in February this year, staff were asked to think of items that could feature in the event. This gave me a chance to take a closer look at some intriguing books that had passed through my hands, and which I was surprised to see among the very academic monographs I usually deal with. After a bit of research, I found out they were all in a series called “Bibliothek rosa Winkel,” which documents in fact an important part of German social history.
The publishing house Verlag rosa Winkel, the first dedicated to gay themes in Germany, was founded in 1975 by a group of friends in West Berlin who, wanting to set up a stand of books on homosexuality at their university, realised that they had almost nothing to sell. The expression “rosa Winkel” refers to the pink triangle that homosexuals were made to wear on their clothes in Nazi Germany. The aim of the founders was to give a chance to books dealing with LGBT themes that had been turned down by more mainstream publishers. In 1991 they started the series Bibliothek rosa Winkel, defined as being at the crossroads of history and literature, and whose focus is testimonies or other narratives documenting life as a homosexual at different points in history. As Verlag rosa Winkel went out of business in 2001, the series was taken over by the publisher Männerschwarm Verlag. Continue reading
The Prix Goncourt was awarded to L’ordre du jour by Éric Vuillard (C205.d.4186).
The Prix Interallié went to Jean-René Van der Plaetsen for Nostalgie de l’honneur (C205.d.4224).
Daniel Rondeau won the Grand prix du roman de l’Académie française for Mécaniques du chaos (C205.d.4223).