Finding Balmont’s hand in a UL copy : the November 2021 Slavonic item of the month

This guest blog post is written by one of our UL Reading Room colleagues.  David, also a learner of Russian, came across a hidden treasure in our older collections – a book of poetry by the poet Bal’mont (normally Balmont in English, as below) with inscriptions by the author.

Konstantin Dmitriyevich Balmont was a well known poet of the Silver age of Russian Literature. The last book he completed, Свѣтослуженіе (Svi︠e︡tosluzhenīe; Liturgy of light), was published in Harbin, Manchuria in June 1937 to coincide with Balmont’s 70th anniversary. Continue reading

Annotations and Tate history in the Bowness Collection

In March 2021, I began a secondment in the Collections & Academic Liaison department. A major component of my job was to continue the work of cataloguing the exhibition catalogues that belonged to the late Professor Sir Alan Bowness (donation arranged by Sophie Bowness). Sir Alan was head of the Tate Gallery from 1980 to 1988, he was personally connected to Barbara Hepworth and other artists, and laid the foundation for the Tate St Ives, among many other accomplishments.

The Bowness Collection is not only important and interesting in terms of the individual items of the collection, but in the way it reflects the art market and the direction of the Tate Gallery’s acquisitions. The collection contains many smaller catalogues, view cards, exhibition posters, and other ephemera which are often inserted in accompanying catalogues. Going through these exhibition catalogues I have gained insights into the world of gallery openings, blockbuster exhibits, and contemporary art.

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Out of the shadows : a talk on the UL’s Bunin book dedications (5pm, 28 May : all welcome)

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.

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Russian émigrés on paper : a new exhibition online and in the Library’s Entrance Hall

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