In the past few years, the University Library has been very fortunate in receiving the private libraries of two late British Ukrainians – Peter Yakimiuk and Teodor Kolassa. Together, these donations have added hundreds of chiefly diaspora publications to the Library’s 20th-century Ukrainian collection. This blog post celebrates a few of the many eye-catching book covers to be found amongst them. All but the last of the six items detailed here were produced in Europe within a few years of the end of World War 2. Please click on each image to see a larger version.
The University Library’s Ukrainian-language holdings have nearly doubled in recent years, from 2,500 or so titles when I first arrived in 2010 to about 4,500 now. We buy books mainly on history and culture, with literature and philology among our main accession areas. Selecting new literary titles, however, is often rather a challenge.
Selecting books on literature is one thing. It is easy enough to spot, where offered, good academic titles produced by respectable presses. A recent (and ongoing) stand-out example is the Istoriia ukrains’koi literatury (History of Ukrainian literature; 758:65.c.201.5(1-4)) set produced by the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, of whose 12 projected volumes we have the four already published. These – shown in the photo – cover the 10th century to 1830 (v. 1-3) and the work of Taras Shevchenko (v. 4).
Selecting literary titles of past authors is usually also straightforward because the value of their literary contribution is normally known. Similarly, buying new titles by established current writers (Zabuzhko, Zhadan, Matios, Andrukhovych, to name a few) is also easy. Determining which books to buy by modern writers less firmly established, however, is something I always find rather tricky.
This post combines the bibliographical notes for the final CamCREES seminar of the term (which saw Peter Fedynsky talk about his English translation of Kobzar, Taras Shevchenko’s collected poems) with the March Slavonic item of the month – the University Library’s earliest set of the Kobzar. It then looks at old and misleading catalogue records…
The CamCREES seminar series for the Lent term ended on a cultural high, with the journalist and translator Peter Fedynsky talking about his translation of the Ukrainian poet Taras Shevchenko’s celebrated Kobzar. 2014 marks the bicentenary of the birth of Shevchenko, the giant of Ukrainian artistic, literary, linguistic, and political culture born to a serf family in 1814. The CamCREES session was supported by Cambridge Ukrainian Studies as part of its Shevchenko 2014 celebrations.
The term Kobzar (the word for a player of the kobza, a traditional Ukrainian instrument) was the title of a collection of eight poems which Shevchenko published in 1840. Over time, the word came to be used as a collective term for Shevchenko’s entire poetic output. The poems contained in the comprehensive Kobzar were written over many years, during which Shevchenko’s star rose and fell – many of them were written, for example, during his exile. All but two (which are in Russian) are in Ukrainian.