In late 2017, we announced on this blog the start of Revolution : the First Bolshevik Year, a new online exhibition at the University Library tracking the dramatic events unfolding one hundred years ago. Since then, two new batches of items have been added. Most recently, six pieces have gone up which link to developments in December 1917 and January 1918 (this doubling up will cease with the next month’s batch, since the Soviet adoption of the Gregorian calendar took place in February 1918). Stamps, books, music, and a satirical cartoon, the new items relate to the formation of the Red Army and the increasing activity of the White movement, revolution and the arts, and the short-lived Constituent Assembly.
The Red Army
The Whites in Literature
Music and the Revolution
The Constituent Assembly
The preceding batch looked at the December 1917 armistice for the Eastern Front, the rapidly unravelling situation in Ukraine, and the introduction of revolutionary economy.
Ceasefire on the Eastern Front
Calm during the storm
The Ukrainian republics
The Sovznak Banknote
Full captions for all the items featured in this post can be found on the exhibition site.
Before long, the most exciting stage of work on the exhibition – the involvement of undergraduates as co-curators – is due to begin. A further report on progress will appear on this blog before long.
Niva, Jan. 1900
The University Library has arranged trial access to four new electronic resources on offer from East View. Please send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of Tuesday 7 February to meet Accessions Committee deadlines. Resources with clear academic and student support will then be recommended to the Committee for purchase.
Access (available through Raven or within the cam domain) will last until 21 February. Details about each backfile/database follow, with individual links. All resources on trial can also be accessed through the general East View entry on this page. Continue reading
In March 2014, a referendum was held in Crimea which saw its accession to the Russian Federation formalised a couple of days later, while Ukraine and most other countries continue to consider the vote (and annexation) illegal. Two years on, we look at the latest books to arrive from Ukraine and Russia on the topic.
Books on other aspects of recent Ukrainian political history have also, of course, been continuing to arrive. Among the most recent is the autobiography of Nadiia Savchenko, the Ukrainian military pilot recently given a long prison sentence for her alleged role in the murder of two Russian journalists (Sil’ne im’ia Nadiia (The strong name of Nadiia [note that “nadiia” is also the word for “hope”]; C210.c.9409)) and a couple of chronologies of the Euromaidan protests (Volodymyr Shcherbak’s Mii Maidan (My Maidan; C204.d.4618) and Sonia Koshkina’s Maidan (C210.c.9408) – the latter also contains interviews with politicians and political activists).
Savchenko’s book (left) and Koshkina’s (right)
The 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate Svetlana Aleksievich’s books bring together the narratives of witnesses to some of recent history’s most disturbing events. The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster was the subject of her book Chernobyl’skaia molitva (Chernobyl prayer; C203.d.7984 (in Russian) and 429:4.c.95.5 (in English). This post looks at Aleksievich’s book and others on Chernobyl.
Chernobyl, in capital letters (ЧЕРНОБЫЛЬ), shown in a 1969 map of Ukraine (Maps.276.96.23). The nuclear town of Pryp’iat’, famously evacuated after the 1986 disaster, would only be established in 1970.
Svetlana Aleksievich’s name had been discussed in terms of Nobel recognition for some time, and the 2015 prize was awarded to her “for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time”. In Chernobyl’skaia molitva, Aleksievich writes “this book is not about Chernobyl, but about the world of Chernobyl. Thousands of pages have already been written and hundreds of thousands of metres of film recorded about the event itself. What I am concerned with is what would be called “missed” history … I write and collect the feelings, thoughts, and words of everyday life … Chernobyl [for my subjects] is not a metaphor or a symbol: it is their home.” This is her approach to all her work; her documentary prose provides a stark and compelling picture of events through its use of the voices of the ordinary people caught up in them, the “polyphonic” quality which won her the Nobel prize. War has featured prominently in her writing so far, with women’s and children’s accounts of the Second World War and soldiers’ experiences of the Soviet-Afghan war accounting for three of her books. These are among the nine books the University Library currently has by her; these are mainly in Russian (Aleksievich is a Russophone Belarusian writer*), but the number in English will doubtless rise thanks to her Nobel fame. Continue reading
A selection of the books which have arrived so far.
Earlier this year, the University Library started to buy Ukrainian material by approval plan. This method involves the vendor helping with selection by providing a tailored shortlist of books based on an agreed profile. The first delivery of Ukrainian books selected in this way has recently arrived; this post examines some of the new arrivals.
Book selection is a major part of the work of the European Collections and Cataloguing department. Several language areas are partially served by approval plans (a 2013 blog post discussed the French fine art approval plan), but this method had not previously been employed by the Slavonic section. Small Ukrainian print runs, however, have often caused us to miss out on material we would like to have bought, and for this reason we decided this year to try out the use of an approval plan for material published in Ukraine. In our profile, we stated that our main interest is in recent academic books in Russian or Ukrainian about Ukrainian or East European culture and history. Continue reading