Gorbachev’s collected works : the August 2016 Slavonic item of the month

201608_Ports_long

The portraits from v. 1 and 26 of the newly acquired set

This month, we look at a recent political addition to the collections – the works of Mikhail Gorbachev – and examine the publications of his Soviet leader predecessors.

The University Library already holds dozens of titles by Gorbachev, chiefly from his 1985-1991 time in office.  The earliest is the 383-page ‘Izbrannye rechi i stat’i’ (Selected speeches and articles; 231.c.98.626) which is followed by a mixture of very short printings of speeches and much longer books.  The majority of our Gorbachev material is in English.  Russian comes a fairly distant second, and Chinese, German, and Belarusian account for the remainder.  Among our stock are biographies (Russian at 586:95.c.95.297-298; English at 586:95.c.95.315) as well as Soviet and post-Soviet political writings.

By the time Gorbachev’s works started to be published as a collected corpus, Politizdat (short for Izdatel’stvo politicheskoi literatury) – the official Soviet political publishing house – had long ceased to exist.  The set is instead being published by the private Ves’ Mir publishers in Moscow in conjunction with the Gorbachev Foundation.  Between 2008 and 2015, 26 volumes were published, covering the period of November 1961 (starting with a speech by the 22-year-old Gorbachev to the Stavropol’ Komsomol committee) to July 1991, with the Foundation’s preface to volume 1 stating clearly the intention for the set to cover the post-1991 period too.  The Library has managed to pick up 24 of the 26 volumes this summer, with volumes 22 and 25 lacking at the time of writing.  We intend to fill these gaps and order future volumes as and when they are published.  The volumes we have already can be ordered through the Reading Room from C211.c.5890- .

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General elections in Latin America

A major focus of the University Library’s collection development policy for material in Spanish and Portuguese is the history of Central and South America, as explained on the Latin American & Iberian Collection webpages on the UL website. Coverage of specific periods in history varies from country to country. Contemporary history and in particular politics and government, however, are areas where our collections are particularly strong. Continue reading

‘Krokodil’ and ‘Literaturnaia gazeta’ electronic backfiles

Front cover of the 1/1946 issue of 'Krokodil', showing the eponymous crocodile.

Front cover of the 1/1946 issue of ‘Krokodil’, showing the eponymous crocodile.

Thanks to vocal support from researchers across the University following trial access earlier this year, the Library has now purchased permanent access to the electronic backfiles of Krokodil and Literaturnaia gazeta.  These purchases provide our readers with full accessibility to these very important titles for the first time. Continue reading

Will Catalonia follow in the steps of Scotland?

on Catalan independence

A selection of the books on the topic we have recently received.

In light of the Scottish referendum on independence next week, it is worth remembering that other parts of Europe are currently faced with a similar dilemma. Catalans have long been agitating for the right to have their say in regard to independence and are observing the Scottish vote with much expectation and perhaps a little envy – considering their central government’s blocking of a discussion on the topic, let alone grant permission to the consultations scheduled for November this year.

In the last few years the Catalan publishing market has of course abounded with publications on the matter and we have recently ordered many of the most relevant ones. At the time of writing, Cambridge University Library is the only UK institution (soon to be) holding many of these titles. These books deal with various aspects of Catalan independence: to name just a few, they include titles concerning the Church’s view on the matter (Ser independentista no és cap pecat: l’Església i el nacionalisme català, 2014.8.5092), the potential economic consequences of independence (Economia de Catalunya: preguntes i respostes sobre l’impacte econòmic de la independència, 2014.9.3489) and the positions held by prominent Catalan intellectuals (¿Per què volem un estat propi? : seixanta intel·lectuals parlen de la independència de Catalunya), as well as Albert Pont’s acclaimed Delenda est Hispania : tot allò que Espanya ens amaga sobre la independència de Catalunya (584:33.c.201.13). If you are interested in any of these titles or wish to have a full list, please contact the Hispanic Specialist.

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Slavonic item of the month : June 2014

The subject for June 2014 is Iurii Andropov, the Soviet head of state in the wake of Brezhnev’s death, who was born 100 years ago in June 1914.  When Andropov died nearly 70 years later, in February 1984, he had been in power for only 15 months. We look at two fictional works about him.

Cover of Iurii Teshkin's /Andropov i drugie/(Andropov and others; 9003.d.1849 )

Cover of Iurii Teshkin’s Andropov i drugie (Andropov and others; 9003.d.1849

Although Iurii Vladimirovich Andropov led the Soviet Union for only a short time, his was already a well-known name when he took power in late 1982.  He had been linked to the repression of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 (Andropov was the Soviet ambassador to Hungary from 1953 to 1956) and to other international military interventions such as the putting down of the Prague Spring in February 1968.  By 1968, Andropov had become the head of the KGB, a position he was to hold for 15 years.

On the basis of Andropov’s pre-leadership career, then, he was seen as a Soviet hawk – and one with a KGB background to boot.  Stories from his leadership, though, suggest a possibly more liberal side.  A search for Andropov Gorbachev on our LibrarySearch+ catalogue of electronic resources, for example, comes up with a hit for a Guardian article from 1991 which reports a revelation by a government aide that Andropov saw the progressive Gorbachev as his successor and not the conservative Chernenko.

The uncertainty of what Andropov might have achieved had he not died so quickly after coming to power might, then, explain why two of the University Library’s holdings about Andropov are works of fiction.

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