Last autumn, the University Library exhibited several books signed by major Russian authors such as Ivan Bunin. Vera Tsareva-Brauner, of the University’s Slavonic Section, who found the autographs, will talk about her extraordinary discoveries on 28 May at 5pm in the Library. The talk is open to all.
A new exhibition of Russian literary publications featuring handwritten dedications has opened today in the Library’s entrance hall and online. Out of the shadows : post-1917 Russian emigration rediscovered has been curated by Vera Tsareva-Brauner of the University’s Slavonic Studies Section. Vera found the first of the dedications while researching Nobel laureate Ivan Bunin, an unearthing which led to the five other inscriptions being brought to light again. It is wonderful to be able to celebrate these re-discovered treasures.
The six dedications (three by Bunin, one by Teffi, two by Tolstoi)
The exhibition marks the centenary of the start of the Russian Exodus. Following the revolutions of 1917, as many as three million people fled their native land, among them many of the best representatives of early 20th-century Russian culture. Most of the émigrés, including the writers Ivan Bunin, Aleksei Tolstoi and Nadezhda Teffi fled to Western Europe, where their determination to preserve their cultural heritage saw the effective creation of a Russia Abroad. The books which feature in the physical and online exhibition and which have never been shown before have original autographs by Bunin, Teffi, and Tolstoi.
The books will be on display in the Entrance Hall until 30 November 2018. The permanent online exhibition can be accessed here: https://exhibitions.lib.cam.ac.uk/outoftheshadows/
Vera Tsareva-Brauner and Mel Bach
The final items have recently been added to the Revolution : The First Bolshevik Year online exhibition. I am extremely grateful to the students and librarians who provided many of the captions. Amongst the latest additions is a book which contains a written dedication by the White commander Petr Vrangel’ (commonly Wrangel) – a fascinating re-discovery.
Глубокоуважаемому Николаю Николаевичу Шебеко – повесть о крестном пути тех, кто вынес на чужбину и верно хранит национальное русское знамя. Ген. Врангель
To the esteemed Nikolai Nikolaevich Shebeko – a tale about the via dolorosa of those who brought out to a foreign land and faithfully preserve the national Russian flag. Gen. Wrangel
Shebeko had served as a diplomat under the tsar and fought with the Whites. By the time this book, on the Russians in Gallipoli, had been published in Berlin in 1923, Shebeko had settled in France. Wrangel had led the southern White forces and remained a hugely significant figure in emigration. He eventually moved to Belgium, via Yugoslavia where he founded ROVS, the Russian All-Military Union which served to unite émigré officers and soldiers and which attracted a great deal of Soviet state interest. Soviet involvement was certainly suspected in Wrangel’s death in Belgium in 1928 at the age of 49.
Wrangel’s writing proved quite a challenge to decipher, certainly for me. Sincere thanks go to Richard Davies of the Leeds Russian Archive who provided a transcription with little apparent effort and much-appreciated speed.
A higher-resolution image of the dedication can be found here: https://exhibitions.lib.cam.ac.uk/revolutionthefirstbolshevikyear/artifacts/a-trace-of-wrangel/
This month, we were delighted to welcome our new French specialist, Dr Irène Fabry-Tehranchi. Irène will focus on current Francophone collection development but will also work with French special collections, chief among them the Chadwyck-Healey Liberation Collection. This post looks at the latest Liberation addition: a book signed by Tristan Tzara and Henri Matisse. Le signe de vie, which featured in Sir Charles Chadwyck Healey’s talk ‘The power of the image in liberated France, 1944-46’ earlier this year, was printed in Paris in 1946 and contains poems by Tzara with illustrations by Matisse.
Matisse’s signature; Tzara’s signature below the tirage description; dedication to Rita Kernn-Larsen by Tzara
Bell, Book and Candle are symbolic objects in the term that describes an archaic form of excommunication, as well as being the title of a 1950s Broadway comedy, the book representing faith and learning. But I suggest that another term ‘precious object’ can be applied to individual copies of books which memorialize important relationships usually through inscription. Newton’s own annotated copy of his Principia in Cambridge University Library is an example of a precious object because of the intimate relation that particular copy has with the author through his annotations. But the precious object is the physical book itself not its printed text. Three examples of books that are ‘precious objects’ are in the Liberation Collection 1944-1946 in Cambridge University Library, a collection of books, still being added to, published mainly in France after the Liberation of Paris and before the end of 1946 on the subjects of the war, the occupation and the liberation. Two books are by collaborators and one is by a member of the resistance. The two collaborators, who were actively sympathetic to the Nazi cause and all that it stood for, were both killed before the war had ended for what they believed in while the resistance fighter survived the war and lived on into old age.