Completing Miłosz, and other new Polish books : the August 2021 Slavonic items of the month

Our long-suffering Polish suppliers took a rush of orders in late June with their usual good grace, despite the need to supply them before the end of our financial year little more than a month later.  Among the resulting new arrivals is a particularly exciting addition – the two-volume Wygnanie i powroty : publicystyka rozproszona z lat 1951-2004, a collection of Nobel laureate Czesław Miłosz’ articles in the press, one of whose editors and contributors is Dr Stanley Bill of MMLL’s Slavonic Studies.  The publication was many years in the making, as Miłosz pieces published all over the world were carefully brought together.  The significance of the nearly 2,000-page-long set means it has been granted what is still a pretty rare post-lockdown open-shelf classmark.  The vast majority of our new arrivals continue to go into the closed but borrowable C200s class, to help us deal promptly with incoming books while still having our numbers in the physical office significantly capped .

Stan has also co-edited Światowa historia literatury polskiej  (A world history of Polish literature), published at the end of 2020, which I am hoping to get as an ebook but will buy in print if an electronic version suitable for institutional purchase doesn’t appear soon enough.

Wyganie i powroty appeared on a trolley full to bursting of Polish arrivals.  Among them were the following (pictures of front covers are provided at the end). Continue reading

Adam Zagajewski : the March 2021 Slavonic items of the month

Last month’s Slavonic blog post looked at recently received new Polish publications, including a book of poems by Adam Zagajewski.  Little did I think then that a month later I would be writing about the poet in the light of his sad death at the age of 75.

Adam Zagajewski spent most of his life in Kraków but was born in what is now Ukraine.  He was born in June 1945 in a Lwów that was still chiefly Polish, but he and his family were caught up in the enormous WW2 population transfers as national borders shifted.  Polish Lwów became Ukrainian L’viv –  just as German Gleiwitz reverted to Polish Gliwice, where Zagajewski’s family moved to and where he grew up.  One of the volumes of poetry we hold in the UL by Zagajewski is called Jechać do Lwowa (To travel to Lwów), and one of our books of essays by him is called Dwa miasta (Two cities; the English translation is also in Cambridge).  The fate of his family and their home and the fate of millions of other similarly displaced families cast a long and complex shadow. Continue reading

New Polish arrivals : the February 2021 Slavonic items of the month

Polish books have been in the press this month – for cheering reasons (the announcement that Olga Tokarczuk’s >1000-page The books of Jacob will published in translation later this year) and for very worrying reasons (the ruling against the writers of Dalej jest noc, a two-volume work about the fate of Polish Jews during the war: a ruling that threatens further Holocaust research).  The UL’s copy of Dalej jest noc is at C214.c.8947-8948 and our copy of the Polish original of Tokarczuk’s epic is at C210.c.2501.

A swathe of Polish books were ordered in late 2019 and the twelve books featured here are among the resulting arrivals. Continue reading

Bolesław Prus : the September 2020 Slavonic item of the month

It is easy to tell that a cataloguer has struggled with a set when its classmark sequence comes out as 758:53.c.201.33(1a-1c,2a-2h,4c-4d,5a-5b,5e-5f,5i,6a-6b,7a-7c).  This was one of the last things I catalogued before lockdown, and provides the beginnings (and hopefully more!) of the Library’s fine new set of Bolesław Prus.

Buying a major new set of collected works has always been a big step, and that is of course even more the case now.  Significant new academic editions often come with a similarly significant price tag, and our budgets are under pressure as never before.  Added to this is the very topical question of whether an electronic copy (if available) should be preferred (to which the answer, no matter how much readers might prefer a physical book, generally needs to be yes at the moment, price differences permitting (ebooks are largely more expensive, sometimes unbelievably so)).

Bolesław Prus (the nom de plume of Aleksander Głowacki), 1847-1912, was a major and significant writer of prose, yet the UL had relatively scant holdings.  This new set is Pisma wszystkie (Complete works), which will run to dozens of volumes.  Until this acquisition, we had only a 6-volume Pisma wybrane (Selected works) from the early 1980s and an incomplete set of a 1940s Pisma (Works; we hold v. 1, 2, 4-9, 22, 23, 25…), alongside fewer than 30 publications of individual works in Prus’ original Polish or in English translation.  The new set, providing not only Prus’ complete works but also major academic commentaries, was too good an opportunity to miss – particularly with the ever-growing success of the Cambridge Polish Studies programme, which attracts more and more undergraduates and postgraduates.

Continue reading

Reymont, recognition, and relegation : the November 2014 Slavonic item of the month


Front cover of v. 1 of a 1931 edition of Chłopi, Uc.8.6564

In November 1924, the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to the Polish prose writer Władysław Reymont, the second of four Polish-language literature laureates to date. To mark the award’s anniversary, we look at the University Library’s Reymont holdings, consider our scant acquisitions in recent decades, and search for Reymont in the card catalogue.

Ninety years ago this month, Władysław Reymont was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.  The Swedish Academy always explains its choice.  In Reymont’s case, this was given in some brevity: Reymont was recognised “for his great national epic, The peasants“.  He is one of nine laureates, so far, for whom the Academy has “singled out a specific work for particular recognition” (see the Nobel literature fact page and Reymont’s Nobel page), and the second Polish-language literature laureate, following Henryk Sienkiewicz’s award in 1905. Continue reading