THE BRITISH LIBRARY

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98 posts categorized "Publishing and printing"

02 February 2018

Arians in the age of the Polish Reformation

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In the 16th century the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-lingual country and was renowned for its religious tolerance. It provided safety for religious refugees fleeing from prosecution in their own countries. Although Poland was predominantly a Roman Catholic country it quickly absorbed the new religious ideas and a Protestant movement was steadily growing. German citizens were followers of Lutheranism while native Poles adopted Calvinism.

Calvinism resonated well with the Polish nobility because of the egalitarian structure of the Calvinist Church. Furthermore, Jan 艁aski, the leading Polish reformer, significantly contributed to the spread of Calvinism in Poland, which reached its zenith in the middle of the 16th century. However, 1562 marked the division of the Calvinist Church with the formation of the most radical group called Polish Brethren, also known as Christians, Arians, Antitrinitarians or Socinians. As a result of the split the Minor Reformed Church was created attracting the most outstanding theologians. 

Arians Portrait Socinus
Faustus Socinus, reproduced in David Munroe Cory, Faustus Socinus (Boston, 1932) 4868.f.14 

Among them was Faustus Socinus, an Italian refugee who arrived in Poland in 1579. He united the group ideologically but never formally belonged to the Church for his objection to water baptism. However, under his influence the Arians rejected the doctrine of the Trinity, infant baptism, the divinity of Christ and the doctrine of original sin.

Arians Vita Socinus
Title page of Samuel Przypkowski鈥檚 biography of Socinus, Vita Favsti Socini Senensis (Rak贸w, 1636) 4887.aa.60 

The Warsaw Confederation of 1573 granted religious freedom to Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Calvinists and Bohemian Brethren, but not to the Arians. In addition, the latter were strongly opposed by both Catholic and Calvinist clergy. In Cracow the Arians were prone to attacks by Catholic mobs at the instigation of the clergy. Taking advantage of the tolerance promoted by the Polish kings the Arians left the unfriendly city and moved to the provincial town of  Rak贸w, some 100 km away from Cracow.  The town became a religious and intellectual centre of the dissidents. The famous Racovian Academy, established in 1602, provided excellent education not only for fellow believers but also for Catholics and Protestants. Religion along with other subjects such as foreign languages, history, law, economics, mathematics, medicine and gymnastics were on the curriculum.

Arians Catechesis
Title page of Catechesis ecclesiarum (Rak贸w, 1609) 3506.a.2 Known as the Racovian catechism, it includes the Socinian doctrine and is dedicated to King James I.

Arian publishing became to flourish when two printing presses transferred from Cracow to Rak贸w. Numerous works in Latin, Polish and German were issued in the presses of Aleksy Rodecki and his son-in-law Sebastian Sternacki. The publications included Arian religious books and lay literature as well as some Calvinist prints. Soon Rak贸w was well known in Western Europe as a printing centre and books with the Latinised form of imprint 鈥楻acoviae鈥 were in high demand. Arian religious literature was mainly of polemical character and consisted of theological tracts, catechisms and disputes with their antagonists. The most prolific authors, in addition to Socinus, were Hieronim Moskorzewski, Johannes Crellius, and Valentin Schmalz.

Arians De Vera Religione
Title page of Joannes Volkelius, De vera religione (Rak贸w, 1630) 4225.cc.31 A full account of the Arian doctrine, and the most important Arianwork alongside the catechism 

A period of prosperity for the Polish Brethren ended in 1638 with the closure of the Academy and the confiscation of the printing press. Subsequently, the Arians were expelled from Poland by order of the Sejm (Polish Parliament) in 1658. They moved to the Netherlands and established their publishing centre in Amsterdam with the prominent series Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum, the collection of works of the Polish Brethren. Although small in numbers the Arians made a significant impact on political thought in Poland as well as philosophical thought in Western Europe.

Over 240 works are recorded with the Racoviae/Rak贸w imprint of which the British Library holds 72 titles.

Magda Szkuta, Curator of East European Collections

References/Further reading:

Faustus Socinus and his heritage, edited by Lech Szczucki (Krakow, 2005) YF.2007.a.15720

Alodia Kawecka-Gryczowa, Aria艅skie oficyny wydawnicze Rodeckiego i Sternackiego (Wroc艂aw, 1974) X.100/12928

Stanis艂aw Kot, Socinianism in Poland: the social and political ideas of the Polish Antitrinitarians in the sixteenth and seventeen centuries (Boston, 1957) 4696.de.23

 Thomas Rees, The Racovian Cathechism (London, 1818) 3554.a18

22 January 2018

Three Alphabets of the Belarusian Language

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The written culture of Belarus is over 11 centuries old. Many of us correctly associate the Belarusian language with the Cyrillic alphabet. However, many texts, in both Old Belarusian and the modern literary language (1850s onwards) were originally written and published in Latin characters. The existence of these two graphic systems in the Belarusian written tradition reflects the rich and complex cultural influences the country experienced at different periods. Many people may be surprised to learn that the Arabic alphabet was also used for writing in Belarusian. For that we should be grateful to the Tatars of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

For centuries, Cyrillic script (kirylica) was the most commonly used graphic system of the Old Belarusian language both for religious and secular literature. The oldest Belarusian book known to us is the Tura怒 [Turov] Gospel. Its only fragment, consisting of ten sheets, was discovered in 1865 in Tura怒, a town in the south of contemporary Belarus. It is preserved in the Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences  in Vilnius. The manuscript is written in the Church Slavonic language, in uncial script (ustav) - the oldest type of Cyrillic writing.

Starting from the 14th century, a more economical half-uncial script was widely used in East Slavonic manuscripts. When the first Belarusian printer, Francysk Skaryna, established his press in the early 16th century, he chose a font based on handwritten half-uncial Cyrillic script.

All three versions (1529, 1566 and 1588) of the Statutes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were written in Cyrillic too. There is no academic consensus regarding their language. Most Belarusian scholars call it Old Belarusian, but others refer to it as Ruthenian or Chancery Slavonic. In any case, the texts of the Statutes became important precursors of the modern Belarusian language. Unlike the first two Statutes, the version of 1588 was printed; a Cyrillic font imitating an italic script (skoropis) of that time was used. This script was used for civil publications, while religious books continued to be printed in a more elaborate half-uncial script.

BelarusianAlphabetsStatute1588(2)
Title-page of the facsimile edition of the Statute of 1588 in : Statuty Velykoho Kniazivstva Lytovs'koho (Odessa, 2002-2004), Vol. 3, book 1,  ZF.9.a.951

The organic development of the Cyrillic form of the Belarusian language was interrupted by the increased use of the Polish language in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 17th-18th centuries. Polish was replaced by Russian in official use after the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Kingdom of Poland were partitioned by their stronger neighbours at the end of the 18th century.

A civil script, grazhdanka, developed for the Russian alphabet under Tsar Peter the Great鈥檚 supervision, was adopted by newspaper and book publishers after publishing in Belarusian became legal in the Russian Empire at the beginning of the 20th century. After a short period of experimentation, the Belarusian alphabet settled into its current form. It is very close to the Russian and Ukrainian alphabets, but has its own particularities, e.g. the letter (怒) which recently acquired a mascot status for the whole Belarusian language.

BelarusianAlphabets袩芯屑薪褨泻_谢褨褌邪褉褘__袔_

A monument celebrating the character in Polack, the oldest Belarusian city and the birthplace of the first Belarusian printer, Francysk Skaryna. (Photo by Pasacern7 CC BY-SA 4.0  from Wikimedia Commons)

The Latin script (lacinka) was used widely in Belarus for writing in Latin and Polish. From the 16th century, we also have examples of Belarusian texts, usually written in Latin script using the Polish alphabet.

19th-century publications in Belarusian are dominated by lacinka: the folklorist Jan 膶a膷ot, the author Jan Bar拧膷e怒ski, the poet and publisher Alexander Rypinski, the first major Belarusian playwright Vincent Dunin-Marcinkievi膷, and the first major national poet, Franci拧ak Bahu拧evi膷 鈥 all wrote and published their works in the Latin script. In 1862-63, the first 鈥 illegal then 鈥 Belarusian newspaper, Mu啪yckaja pra怒da, was published by Kastu艣 Kalino怒ski, also using Latin script.

BelarusianAlphabetsRypinskiTitlepageCover of Alexander Rypinski, Niaczys虂cik, Ballada Bia艂oruska ... Wydanie trzecie Akcentowane ([Tottenham, 1856?]). 11585.a.56.(7)


BelarusianAlphabetsDudka Cover of the facsimile edition of Frantsishak Bahushe虈vich, Dudka bia艂aruskaja (Minsk, 1990). YA.1999.a.4633

The earliest Belarusian newspapers and books published legally under the Russian Empire used both Cyrillic and Latin scripts, which they referred to as 鈥淩ussian and Polish characters鈥. Cyrillic was used to address the Orthodox Christian population and the Latin alphabet 鈥 for Roman Catholics. The Na拧a Niva weekly, the main voice of the Belarusian national revival, dropped its lacinka version for the kirylica one due to costs.

BelarusianAlphabetsNashaNivaPage from a facsimile edition of Nasha Niva (Minsk, 1992). ZA.9.d.379

The Latin script continued to be widely used in the western part of Belarus, which from 1919-1939 was under Polish rule. Here, the outstanding linguist Branisla怒 Tara拧kievi膷 proposed a version of the Belarusian Latin alphabet which broke away from the earlier conventions; for example, instead of digraphs common in Polish (cz, sz), letters with diacritics (膷, 拧) were introduced. This version was quickly and widely adopted by publishers in western Belarus.

In Soviet Belarus, the possibility of adopting the Latin script was discussed only once, during the Academic Conference for Reform of the Belarusian Grammar and Alphabet in 1926. The conference agreed that such a change would be the best solution, but premature at that time. Three years later, the Bolsheviks described such views as sabotage and tearing Belarusian culture away from that of Russia. Mass purges of the Belarusian intelligentsia followed soon after.

A slightly modified version of Branisla怒 Tara拧kievi膷鈥檚 lacinka has recently been adopted by the Belarusian government for transliterating Belarusian geographic names into Latin script and recommended for use by the United Nations.

From the 14th century, Tatars from Crimea, the Volga region and the Caucasus settled in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania 鈥 some were invited to join the Duchy鈥檚 army, while others were refugees or prisoners of war. Many of their settlements survived until very recently in contemporary Belarus, and even now the small town of I怒je is primarily known for its Tatar community. In literature, they are referred to as Lipka Tatars.

 The Tatars adopted the vernaculars of the peoples they lived among, and used them in their own manuscripts 鈥 translations of and commentaries on the Quran, prayer books and books of religious instruction. Belarusian dialects predominate in Lipka Tatar manuscripts, particularly in the oldest known to us, dating from the 17th-18th centuries. The Tatars preserved the Arabic script for writing and recorded phonetics of the language they 鈥 and people among whom they lived 鈥 spoke. These manuscripts are an important source about the development of the Belarusian language: many characteristics of the contemporary Belarusian language can be seen in Lipka Tatar writings from centuries ago.

Ihar Ivanou, Head of Learning Resources, QA Higher Education, London.

References / Further reading:

Peter J. Mayo, 鈥The Alphabet and Orthography of Byelorussian in the 20th Century鈥, The Journal of Byelorussian Studies, 4/1 (1977), pp. 28-47. ZC.9.a.9127 .

George Meredith Owens/Alexander Nadson, 鈥The Byelorussian Tartars and their Writings鈥, The Journal of Byelorussian Studies, 2/2 (1970), pp. 141-176.

Paul Wexler, 鈥Jewish, Tatar and Karaite Communal Dialects and their Importance for Byelorussian Historical Linguistics鈥, The Journal of Byelorussian Studies, 3/1 (1973), pp. 41-54.

Shirin Akiner, 鈥The Vocabulary of a Byelorussian Tatar Kitab in the British Museum鈥, The Journal of Byelorussian Studies, 3/1 (1973), pp. 55-84.

Shirin Akiner, Religious language of a Belarusian Tatar Kitab: a cultural monument of Islam in Europe (Wiesbaden, 2009). EDM.2009.a.41

Barys Sachanka, Belaruskaia mova: 臈ntsyklapedyia (Minsk, 1994). YA.1999.b.2123

A. Susha, 鈥楾urauskae Evanhelle 鈥 samaia starazhytnaia kniha Belarusi鈥, Belaruski histarychny chasopis, no. 8 (2015), pp. 22鈥32. ZF.9.b.69

 

30 November 2017

鈥楾he Gospels are as good in Danish or German as in Latin鈥︹: the earliest Nordic vernacular Bibles

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Many factors contributed to the spread of the Reformation in the Nordic region from the 16th century onwards. The developing 鈥榥ational鈥 monarchies, with ever more centralized rule, gradually saw the Catholic Church as the main obstacle to the consolidation of wealth and power. This disillusionment with the Catholic Church was also of course a result of the dissemination of new Lutheran teachings, by German preachers who had moved north, by Scandinavian preachers who had been taught in Lutheran contexts, or often by Hansa merchants spreading the faith.

In the process of reforming the North, as elsewhere, vernacular translations of scripture were significant. As Bent Noack writes, 鈥榠t is not sufficiently emphasized that the printing of vernacular texts long preceded the Reformation in many countries鈥 (The Cambridge History of the Bible, p. 423): there are mediaeval Danish and Swedish biblical manuscripts based on the Vulgate and, as early as 1514, Christiern Pedersen (c.1480-1554) had translated parts of the New Testament. In a preface to his 1515 translated Book of Homilies, Pedersen makes plain the richness of vernacular translations: 鈥楴obody ought to think that the Gospels are more sacred in one tongue than in another: they are as good in Danish or in German as they are in Latin, if only they are rightly interpreted鈥. Soon after Luther鈥檚 1522 translation of the New Testament there followed Danish (1524) and Swedish (1526) versions. So, Noack writes, these New Testaments 鈥榳ere called forth by the Reformation in Germany and served to prepare the soil for it in Scandinavia鈥, showing how vernacular translations preceded and then pushed forward the Reformation in the North, which was only made official by the establishment of a Lutheran State Church from 1536 (in Denmark and Sweden).

With state-sponsored Lutheranism came the means for producing complete Bible translations. The British Library holds examples of most of the earliest printed Bibles from the Nordic region. The earliest complete one was produced in Sweden. The 鈥楪ustav Vasa Bible鈥 (1541), named after the king who commissioned it, was translated by the brothers Laurentius and Olaus Petri and was heavily based on Luther鈥檚 translations. The German influence spread to the book鈥檚 production, style and typography, as the printer Georg Richolff of L眉beck was invited to Uppsala to print it. Richolff brought with him new type material and a range of woodblocks, including some by Lucas Cranach. In the image below, we see an elaborate architectural title frame for the New Testament and the German Fraktur type used for the title itself.

Swedish Bible title page
Title-page for the New Testament from Biblia, thet a虉r, All then Helgha Scrifft, pa虋 Swensko (Uppsala, 1541) 1109.kk.5, the 鈥楪ustav Vasa Bible鈥

The British Library has another copy of this 1541 New Testament (1.b.3.), bound separately, which contains copious  manuscript annotations, some dated 1639, about which we know very little (below).

Swedish Bible annotated Epistles

What scholars consistently emphasise with this, and every other, early vernacular Bible is how the language and style of the translation influenced the standard modern languages and, in the case of Swedish, 鈥榯he orthography and use of accents made its difference from Danish more distinctive鈥 (A History of the Book in 100 Books, p. 125). The first complete Danish Bible, known as the 鈥楥hristian III Bible鈥, after the King of Denmark-Norway, was printed in 1550. The publisher of the Low German Luther edition, Ludwig Dietz, printed it in Copenhagen and the translation is generally ascribed to Christiern Pedersen, though it remains uncertain.  

Danish Bible title page

Danish Bible Christian III portrait

Danish Bible armourial bearings

Top to bottom: title page, King Christian III鈥檚 portrait and armorial bearings, from the 鈥楥hristian III Bible鈥, Biblia, Det er den gantske Hellige Scrifft, vds忙t paa Danske (Copenhagen, 1550) 2.e.11

In Iceland, under the rule of Denmark at the time, book production begun with a press established by the last Roman Catholic bishop, J贸n Arason, at H贸lar. Noack describes the Reformation Bible as 鈥榠ts most outstanding specimen鈥 (Cambridge History, p. 140). It is known as the Gu冒brandsbibl铆a (Gudbrand鈥檚 Bible), after Gu冒brandur 脼orl谩ksson, the Bishop of H贸lar at the time of its publication in 1584, who executed the translation and designed and engraved most of the woodcuts. A laborious project, it took 2 years to print 500 copies. Our copy is one of the 121 printed books donated to the British Museum by Joseph Banks in 1773, following an exploratory trip to south-eastern Iceland in the previous September.

Icelandic Bible title page
Titlepage (above) and note of  presentation by Joseph Banks (below) from the 鈥楪u冒brandsbibl铆a鈥, Biblia, 镁ad er, 脴ll Heilo虉g Ritning, vtlo虉gd a Norr忙nu (H贸lar, 1584), 692.i.1

Icelandic Bible presentation note Joseph Banks

Like the Swedish and Danish translations before it, the Icelandic Bible is said to have contributed enormously to the development of the modern standard language. Yet, even more emphatic is the influence of the vernacular Bible translation on the Finnish language, as it represents the first ever appearance of the language in print. Mikael Agricola (c.1510-1557) began translating Scripture following a period of study in Wittenberg and we hold a 1931 facsimile edition of his 1548 New Testament (Se Wsi Testamenti, Helsinki, 1931; 3706.cc.10). The first complete Finnish Bible dates back to 1642 and was printed in Stockholm in an edition of 1200 copies. The task of the printer, Henrik Keyser, was made more difficult by the fact that none of the compositors knew any Finnish! The BL also holds the first Finnish Bible printed in Finland itself (Turku, 1685, BL 219.h.13).

Finnish Bible Genesis
Genesis, chapter 1 (above) and an illustration of David and Goliath (below) from the first complete Bible in Finnish, Biblia, se on: Coco Pyha虉 Ramattu, Suomexi (Stockholm, 1642), C.108.aaa.12

Finnish Bible David and Goliath

The first New Testaments in the Greenlandic Inuit language, Testamente Nutak, (Copenhagen, 1766; 217.e.23) and in Saami , 脜dde Testament, (Stockholm, 1755; 3040.a.29) can also be found in our collections.

To bring this brief survey of the earliest vernacular Bibles to a close, then, we should emphasize that these Bibles are not only the literary foundations of the Reformation but also the foundations of standard modern languages in the Nordic region. Thanks in part to the (mostly) consistent presence of a Lutheran State Church over the last four centuries, in the words of T.K. Derry, 鈥榯he view of religion which was shaped in Germany still receives an ampler recognition in Scandinavia than in its homeland鈥 (A History of Scandinavia, p. 95).

Pardaad Chamsaz, Curator Germanic Collections

References/Further Reading

T.K. Derry, A History of Scandinavia (London, 1979), X.800/29298

S.L. Greenslade (ed.), The Cambridge History of the Bible. The West from the Reformation to the Present Day (Cambridge, 1963/1987), YC.1988.a.9888

James L. Larson, Reforming the North: the Kingdoms and Churches of Scandinavia, 1520-1545 (Cambridge, 2010), YC.2011.a.5047

Ole Peter Grell (ed.), The Scandinavian Reformation: from evangelical movement to institutionalisation of reform (Cambridge, 1995), YC.1995.b.214

Charlotte Appel & Morten Fink-Jensen (eds.), Religious Reading in the Lutheran North: Studies in Early Modern Scandinavian Book Culture (Cambridge, 2011), YC.2011.a.14186

Roderick Cave & Sara Ayad, A History of the Book in 100 Books (London, 2014),  YC.2016.b.1783

 

25 November 2017

New Sources for Book History Conference.

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On 28 November 2017, the British Library is hosting a conference on Combined Methodological Approaches for Manuscripts and Printed Books (text and images; material evidence; historical bibliographical and documentary sources; sale and auction catalogues; etc.). The conference will be held in the Eliot and Dickens rooms of the British Library鈥檚 Knowledge Centre and is organised by Laura Carnelos (Marie Curie Fellow at CERL), Stephen Parkin (Curator, Printed Heritage, British Library), and Cristina Dondi (Lincoln College Oxford, CERL, Material Evidence in Incunabula (MEI).

New sources book history ConferencePostcard4

When Lucien Febvre and Henri-Jean Martin鈥檚 L鈥檃pparition du livre (Paris, 1958; 9010.a.1/49) was first published, a new research field was opened up, launching an innovative approach to book history. Studies started to appear not only on the production, distribution and reading of books, but also more widely on the materiality, multiple uses, forms, meanings and influences of the book within a given society. Decades of systematic cataloguing, the integration of records into large databases, the development of digital tools and resources which can handle huge quantities of high-quality bibliographical data now make it possible to undertake new kinds of research.

The main question this one-day conference will try to address is: what sources and methodologies are now used by librarians, historians and other such users and what are the possible outcomes?

The day will consist of four main sessions will follow up during the day, dedicated respectively to manuscripts, blockbooks and 15th-century books, and early modern printed books (16th-19th centuries). The papers for each session are listed below (a copy of the full programme with timings can be found here).

Session 1 (9.15-10.45):
Ivan Boserup (The Royal Library, Copenhagen), Strategies for Separating Authentic and Forged Colonial Manuscripts of the Private Collezione Miccinelli in Naples.
Ang茅line Rais (University of Oxford), Sir Thomas Phillipps鈥檚 purchases of manuscripts in Switzerland: an analysis of sources.
Cristina Dondi (University of Oxford, CERL), From liturgical data to historical evidence in the study of books of hours.

Session 2 (11.15-13.00):
Bettina Wagner (Staatsbibliothek, Bamberg), Methodological approaches to 15th-century blockbooks.
Claire Bolton (Oxford), Measuring skeletons - discovering the printer.
Sabrina Minuzzi (University of Oxford), New tricks for provenance lost in miscellanies: documentary evidence, coloured edges and historical catalogues in MEI.

Blockbook IA.11
A calendar page for November from a 15th-century blockbook ([Leipzig, ca 1490?]) IA.11

Session 3:
Paolo Sachet (Universit脿 della Svizzera Italiana), Exploiting Antiquarian Sale Catalogues: Blueprint for the Study of Sixteenth-Century Books on Blue Paper.
Francesca Tancini (University of Bologna), New sources for dating illustrated Victorian popular books: illustrators鈥 diaries, printers鈥 ledgers, woodblocks and drawings.
Laura Carnelos (CERL), The study of rare popular books through PATRIMONiT: a combined methodological approach.
Richard Sharpe (University of Oxford), A hidden collection of Irish manuscripts.

In the fourth and last session posters relating to six international projects will be presented by Toby Burrows (University of Western Australia and of Oxford); Ilaria Andreoli (CNRS-ITEM, Paris; Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice) and Ilenia Maschietto (Giorgio Cini Foundation, Venice); Veronika Girininkait臈 (University Library of Vilnius); William Stoneman (Houghton Library, Harvard); Helwi Blom, Rindert Jagersma, Juliette Reboul (Radboud University, The Netherlands); and Sofie Arneberg (National Library of Norway).

Other posters will be presented in the Dickens room by Ir猫ne Fabry-Tehranchi (British Library), Simona Inserra, Marco Palma and their group (Catania City Library), Cristiana Iommi (Biblioteca civica Romolo Spezioli di Fermo); Rosa Parlavecchia (Catania and Salerno Universities); Christian Scheidegger (Zentralbibliothek Z眉rich); Sonja Svolj拧ak and Ur拧a Kocjan (National and University Library鈥檚 Early Prints Collection, Ljubljana).

The conference has been organized in collaboration with the Consortium of European Research Libraries (CERL) and the British Library. A live streaming of the conference will be available on the day in the Dickens Room to a limited number of participants and then on the CERL website to a wider audience.

With the aim of producing a coherent and methodologically innovative volume, subject to peer review, the proceedings will be published on open access and available via the CERL website by March 2018.

The conference and the publication are sponsored by the European Union鈥檚 Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skolodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 659625. The main conference is already fully booked, but a few places are available in the Dickens room. If you are interested please contact Laura Carnelos: laura.carnelos@cerl.org

Print workshop
A printing workshop, from the title page of Bernardus Mallinckrodt, De ortu ac progressu artis typographic忙 dissertatio historica ... (Cologne, 1640) 274.d.12.

21 November 2017

Orwell in Translation

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George Orwell鈥檚 Animal Farm was first published on 17 August 1945 and on 28 August the Russian scholar and critic Gleb Struve wrote to Orwell to say that he found the book 鈥渄elightful鈥 and would like to translate it for the benefit of Russians, 鈥渨ho could read the truth about their country only when outside it鈥. Replying to this letter on 1 September, Orwell wondered 鈥渨hat the procedure is. Are books in Russian published in this country, i.e. from non-official sources?鈥 He told Struve that, at about the same time, he had received a letter from a Pole who wanted to translate the book into Polish. Orwell鈥檚 main worry was how to pay his translators, but he said he was 鈥渁nxious that the book should find its way into other languages. If translations into the Slav languages were made, I shouldn鈥檛 want any money out of them myself (The Complete Works of George Orwell (CWGO), vol. 17, pp. 274-5). 

Animal Farm Polish

Cover page of Polish translation: Zwierze台cy folwark ....(London,1947). 012642.pp.100.

The first translation of Animal Farm into a Slavic language 鈥 in fact, into any language! 鈥 was into Polish. It was made by Teresa Jelenska, the wife of a Polish diplomat, and published at the turn of 1946 and 1947 in London by the League of Poles Abroad.

Teresa Jelenska was also instrumental in putting her son鈥檚 friend, a young Polish-born Ukrainian Ihor Szewczenko  in touch with Orwell. Szewczenko, then aged 25, wrote to Orwell in April 1946 immediately after he had read Animal Farm and saw at once, as he put it, 鈥渢hat a translation of the tale into Ukrainian would be of great value to my countrymen鈥 (CWGO, vol. 19, p. 72). Szewczenko (who later changed the spelling of his name to S虒evc虒enko, the heading under which his works can be found in the British Library鈥檚 catalogue), translated Animal Farm while commuting between Munich, where he lived with his wife and mother-in-law, both Soviet-Ukrainian refugees, and Quackenbr眉ck in the British zone of Germany, where he worked for a Polish newspaper.

A year later, when the translation was ready for publication by the Munich publisher Prometheus, Szewczenko wrote to Orwell again asking him for a preface for the book and Orwell, although he was 鈥渇rightfully busy鈥, did indeed write the preface to the Ukrainian edition, which remains his most detailed explanation of his motives for writing the 鈥渇airy story鈥. He was particularly glad to find out from Szewczenko, who published his translation under the pseudonym of Ivan Cherniatynskyi, that his publishers in Munich were the Soviet Ukrainians, who defended the 鈥渁cquisitions of the October revolution鈥, but turned against the 鈥渃ounter-revolutionary Bonapartism鈥 of Stalin and the Russian nationalistic exploitation of the Ukrainian people. Orwell was 鈥渆ncouraged to learn that that kind of opposition exists in the USSR鈥 (CWGO, vol. 19, p. 73).

Animal Farm Ukrainian

Cover of  the Ukrainian translation. Kolhosp tvaryn: kazka. Translated by 鈥業van Cherniatynskyi鈥 with an introduction by George Orwell. ([Munich, 1947?]) 12593.f.40.

The first Ukrainian edition was not very lucky. Orwell informed his friend, writer Arthur Koestler on 20 September 1947 (CWGO, vol. 19, pp. 206-7), that 鈥渢he American authorities in Munich have seized 1500 copies of it and handed them over to the Soviet repatriation people, but it appears 2000 copies got distributed among the DPs (Displaced Persons) first鈥. In the same letter Orwell told Koestler that he had given Szewczenko his address and added: 鈥淚 have been saying ever since 1945 that the DPs were a godsent opportunity for breaking down the wall between Russia and the West鈥. Shortly before that, in his review of James Burnham鈥檚 book The Struggle for the World (London, 1947; 8011.ee.32.), he expressed a similar thought even more directly: 鈥渙ne of the most important problems at this moment is to find a way of speaking to the Russian people over the heads of their rulers鈥 (CWGO, vol. 19, p. 105).

It was precisely the plan to send Animal Farm into the Soviet Union that made Orwell agree to fund the publication of Gleb Struve鈥檚 translation into Russian by the DP publisher Possev. Approached by Possev six months before his death, Orwell immediately supported the idea of publishing the translation in a book form (it had already been serialized in the publisher鈥檚 weekly magazine of the same name (no. 7-32, 1949) and smuggling it into the USSR, but he still wanted to know for sure who he was dealing with. 鈥淚 suppose the editors of this paper are bona fide people and also not Whites?鈥 鈥 he asked his recent acquaintance, a German communist Ruth Fischer in a letter of 15 July 1949 (CWGO, vol. 20, p.146). The first part of his question could easily be confirmed, but it was more complicated with the second. As Orwell had feared Possev, unlike the Ukrainian publishers of Animal Farm, were indeed 鈥淲hites鈥. They enjoyed Orwell鈥檚 satire of the Soviet regime, but could not stomach him satirising the church and religion and the role they played in society. That is why 鈥 as it became known much later, in the 1980s 鈥 they censored Orwell and cut out from Animal Farm two paragraphs describing the role of Moses, the tame raven, who tells the animals about 鈥淪ugarcandy Mountain, to which all animals went when they died.鈥

Animal Farm Russian

Title-page of the  Russian translation. Skotskii khutor. ([Frankfurt am Main], 1950). 12654.de.12.

This was of course only the beginning. Eventually Animal Farm was translated into at least 70 languages, including Esperanto, but it is worth stressing that the Slavic languages (Polish, Ukrainian, Russian) were among the first. The French publication appeared later than expected, only in October 1947, because, as Orwell wrote to Koestler in January 1946, 鈥淭he French publisher, who had signed a contract to translate Animal Farm, has got cold feet and says it is impossible 芦for political reasons禄鈥 (CWGO, vol. 18. p.28) 鈥 this no doubt was the result of the 1945 elections in France, when the Communists became the largest party in the French National Assembly. But those whose countries were directly under the Communist rule continued publishing the book abroad 鈥 in 1952 Animal Farm came out in Lithuanian and in 1955 in Serbian.

Animal Farm Lithuanian

Cover of the  Lithuanian translation. Gyvuli懦 奴kis. Fantastin臎 apysaka. (London, 1952). X.950/31145

Masha Karp, editor of The Orwell Society Journal and author of a forthcoming  Russian biography of George Orwell

References/Further reading

The Complete Works of George Orwell edited by Peter Davison (London, 2000-2002). Vols. 17 (YC.2001.a.13719), 18 (YC.2001.a.16202), 19 (YC.2002.a.23095) and 20 (YC.2002.a.23177)

Masha Karp. 鈥楾he Raven Vanishes鈥. The Orwell Society Journal. No. 9, December 2016, pp. 16-19

Ksenya Kiebuzinski. 鈥Not Lost in Translation: Orwell鈥檚 Animal Farm Among Refugees and Beyond the Iron Curtain鈥, The Halcyon: Newsletter of the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library, no. 59, June 2017.  

17 October 2017

Tolstoy鈥檚 Kreutzer Sonata

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In the 1880s Leo Tolstoy mainly focused on writing non-fiction; his novella The Kreutzer Sonata is one of the few exceptions. In February 1876 a woman calling herself 鈥楽lavyanka鈥 had written to Tolstoy her thoughts on the appalling situation of women in contemporary Russian society. This was one source of inspiration for the novella. Another was a story told to Tolstoy by a friend who had heard a fellow train traveller talking about his wife鈥檚 infidelity.

When the first draft had been written, a family friend performed Beethoven鈥檚 Kreutzer Sonata (Sonata No. 9 in A Major for piano and violin, Op. 47) at Tolstoy鈥檚 house in Moscow. Immediately afterwards, Tolstoy suggested that the actor Andreev-Burlak and the artist Ilya Repin, who were present, could help him express the feelings evoked by this music. Tolstoy鈥檚 original plan was to have his story read in public with Repin鈥檚 visual response to the music in the background, although this performance never took place. It occurs to me that had such a recital happened, we could have think of Tolstoy as one of the founding fathers of conceptual performance art.

1-Ilya Repin's picture of Tolstoy and his daughter Alexandra

Ilya Repin鈥檚 picture of Tolstoy and his daughter Alexandra at the piano

Tolstoy continuously reworked the plot of the story and it went through many transformations. In the final version, the protagonist tells his story as part of a conversation on a train concerning marriage, divorce and love. Although he loved his wife at first, he became unhappy with her when she was preoccupied by motherhood, but was also displeased when she started to prevent pregnancies. Nonetheless, having noticed his wife鈥檚 admiration for a violinist, he became consumed with jealousy which led him to kill her. Beethoven鈥檚 Kreutzer Sonata triggers all the emotions in the story, as this is what unites the protagonist鈥檚 wife with the violinist when they play it together, filling him with rage and misery. He blames the conventions which force people to stay together even after love has turned into hatred, and believes that women and men will never enjoy equal rights as long as men view women as objects of desire. Yet he also claims that women have a form of power over men, since much of society is geared towards women鈥檚 pleasure and wellbeing. Tolstoy鈥檚 message is confusing, but is usually interpreted as questioning the institution of marriage and celebrating the ideals of chastity and sexual abstinence.

Zweig MS 19 f1r

 Draft page of The Kreutzer Sonata, Zweig MS 191

In November 1889, the story was read in public at the publishing house owned by Tolstoy鈥檚 friend Chertkov. It made such an impression that, against Tolstoy鈥檚 will, the manuscript was copied on the same night. Three days later 300 lithograph copies were already in private circulation in St. Petersburg and many more were created on hectograph machines. In December 1889, rumours that the censors would ban publication were confirmed. Tolstoy had decided in 1879 to renounce his copyright and potential royalties for anything written thereafter, so was relieved that he did not have to deal with a moral dilemma: to allow his wife to support the family by publishing his work commercially or to publish it gratis according to his own principles.

2-KreutzerSonataClandestineEditionBeginning large

Opening (above) and last two page (below) of a clandestine edition of The Kreutzer Sonata ([St Petersburg?, 1889]) RB.23.b.6954.

3-KreutzerSonataClandestineEditionEnd large

In 1890, when it became obvious that The Kreutzer Sonata would not be published in Russia, the Bibliographic Office in Berlin published the story in four languages 鈥 Russian, German, French and English 鈥 simultaneously. At least two other different English translations, by H. Sutherland Edwards and by Beni R. Tucker, were published in 1890 in England and America respectively.

4-KreutzerSonataBerlin large

Above: The Berlin edition of The Kreutzer Sonata  (1890) 1608/5228. Below: English translation of The Kreutzer Sonata. (London, 1890) 012589.e.34.

5-KreutzerSonataEnglish large

In 1891, Tolstoy鈥檚 wife Sofia Andreevna was granted personal permission by Tsar Alexander III to publish the novella in Russia. She did so to prove to herself and others that she had not been hurt by the story, although she admitted in her diaries that it was aimed at her life with Tolstoy, which certainly made her feel uneasy about it. She even wrote a 鈥渞eply鈥 to Tolstoy, a novella Ch鈥檌a vina? (鈥榃hose was the blame?鈥), not published until 1994.

An almost immediate response to Tolstoy鈥檚 ideas on marriage and sexuality came from the German author Dagobert von Gerhardt, known under his pen-name Gerhardt von Amyntor. In 1891 he published his story Die Cis-moll-Sonate in which travellers on a train discuss Tolstoy and his Kreutzer Sonata, and one describes how Tolstoy鈥檚 ideas influenced his life in a negative way.

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Against The Kreutzer Sonata, by G. von Amyntor in Russian translation: Za pravdu i za chest鈥 zhenshchiny [For the truth and women鈥檚 honour]  (St Petersburg, 1898) 8410.ff.18.

Tolstoy鈥檚 son, Lev L鈥檝ovich, also argued with his father in his novella Preliudiia Shopena (鈥楥hopin 鈥檚 Prelude鈥). In 1890 Leonard Terry, writing as 鈥楳argrave Kenyon鈥 published a play entitled Madansema, Slave of Love; re Tolstoi, a counter-song to anti-marriage (London, 1890). On the inside cover of the British Library copy there is an inscription: 鈥淭olstoi thinks 鈥 marriage is a sin (essay in 鈥淯niversal Review鈥, 1890)鈥. Apart from the title, the play has only a loose connection with Tolstoy鈥檚 story. Mrs James Gregor鈥檚 novella, like Sofia Andreevna鈥檚 entitled Whose was the blame?, was published in London in 1894 and is subtitled A woman鈥檚 version of the Kreutzer Sonata. These are just some examples of contemporary responses to The Kreutzer Sonata.

The Czech composer Leo Jana膷ek鈥檚 String quartet No. 1, 鈥淜reutzer Sonata鈥 was also inspired by Tolstoy鈥檚 story. When he wrote it in 1923, the composer鈥檚 own private life was tense and difficult: he had informally divorced his wife, and was passionately in love with Kamila St枚sslov谩, who neither sought nor rejected his devotion. An image of a 鈥渢ormented and run down鈥 poor young woman from Tolstoy鈥檚 novel was very close to Jan谩膷ek鈥檚 heart at that time.

The Kreutzer Sonata remains one of the most popular of Tolstoy鈥檚 works and continues to attract new translations and adaptations.

Katya Rogatchevskaia, Lead Curator East European Collections

References / Further reading:

Lawrence Kramer, 鈥淭olstoy鈥檚 Beethoven, Beethoven鈥檚 Tolstoy : the Kreutzer Sonata鈥 in his collection of essays Critical musicology and the responsibility of response : selected essays (Aldershot, 2006) YC.2008.a.856

Europ盲isches Ereignis "Kreutzersonate" : Beethoven - Tolstoj 鈥 Jan谩膷ek, Ulrich Steltner 鈥 et al. (Jena, 2004) YF.2006.a.12001

Dawn B. Sova, Literature suppressed on sexual grounds (New York, 2006) YC.2007.a.2777.

Alexandra Popoff, Sophia Tolstoy: a biography. (New York, 2010) m10/.18612

The Diaries of Sofia Tolstoy, translated by Cathy Porter. (London, 2010) YC.2011.a.630

 

02 October 2017

Luther the translator

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In 1521, having been excommunicated by the Pope and declared an outlaw by the Holy Roman Emperor, Martin Luther was given refuge at the Wartburg Castle near Eisenach by Elector Friedrich III of Saxony, one of the first German princes to support the ideas of the Protestant Reformation. While in hiding there Luther set about translating the New Testament into German, as first part of a proposed translation of the whole Bible.

Luther Junker J枚rg 4888.bb.8.
Luther disguised as 鈥楯unker J枚rg鈥 while in hiding at the Wartburg. Engraving by Lucas Cranach, reproduced in Alfred von Sallet, Luther als Junker Georg ... Separatabdruch aus dem 52 Bande des 鈥淣euen Lausitzischen Magazins.鈥 (Berlin, 1883) 4888.bb.8.

Luther chose to tackle the New Testament first as it was the less difficult task. He was not the first to translate the Bible into German: 18 translations had appeared in print between 1466 and the early 1520s. But unlike these, which were based heavily on the Latin 鈥Vulgate鈥, the canonical Bible text for the Catholic Church of the day, Luther went back to the original Biblical languages of Greek and Hebrew. For the New Testament he worked mainly from Erasmus鈥檚 Greek edition.

Bible IC.506
The first Bible printed in German (Strasbourg, 1466) IC.506

The work was finished in 11 months and the first edition of Luther鈥檚 New Testament appeared in September 1522. It was a great success: the first edition of 3,000 copies sold out within 3 months, and a new edition appeared in December, by which time Luther had already made many changes and corrections to his translation (he would continue to revise and amend his translations throughout his life).

Luther Septembertestament C36g7
Title-page of the 鈥楽eptember Testament鈥, the first edition of Luther鈥檚 New Testament translation (Wittenberg, 1522)  C.36.g.7.

The first part of Luther鈥檚 Old Testament translation appeared in 1523. Over the next 12 years, working with a group of associates, he completed the translation of the whole Bible, which was published in 1534. In that time at least 22 new editions of the already-published translations had appeared, and it is reckoned that around a third of all literate Germans would have owned a copy of one or more parts.

Luther Bible 1534 tp
Title-page of the first complete edition of Luther鈥檚 Bible (Wittenberg, 1534) 1.b.9.

An important aspect of Luther鈥檚 translation was that he wanted it to reflect the cadences not of Latin, or of Greek and Hebrew, but of contemporary spoken German. He set out  this idea in the Sendbrief vom Dolmetschen, published in 1530 in response to critics such as Hieronymus Emser, who in 1523 had produced a book arguing that Luther鈥檚 Bible should be 鈥榝orbidden to the common man鈥 and identifying 1400 alleged errors and heresies in Luther鈥檚 text.

Luther Sendbrieff 3905.cc.61.
Martin Luther, Ein Sendbrieff. Von Dolmetschen... (Wittenberg, 1530)

A particular target of Luther鈥檚 critics was his use of the term 鈥榓llein durch Glauben鈥 鈥 鈥榦nly by faith鈥 鈥 to translate Romans 3.28 in which neither the Vulgate nor the Greek text has any equivalent of the word 鈥榦nly鈥. Although the concept of justification by faith alone was in fact of great theological importance for Luther, here he defended his use of 鈥榓llein鈥 on purely linguisitic grounds, claiming that it was so natural in the context of a spoken German sentence that not to use it would sound foolish. He famously stated that:

We do not have to ask the literal Latin how we are to speak German, as these donkeys do. Rather we must ask the mother in the home, the children on the street, the common man in the marketplace. We must be guided by their language, by the way they speak, and do our translating accordingly. Then they will understand it and recognise that we are speaking German to them.

Luther also points out in the Sendbrief that Emser himself made heavy use of Luther鈥檚 German New Testament when commissioned by the Catholic Duke Georg of Saxony to provide a heresy-free Catholic alternative to Luther鈥檚 translation. Emser鈥檚 reliance on Luther鈥檚 text meant that Luther鈥檚 Biblical language became familiar and popular among Catholic as well as Protestant Germans.

As the Sendbrief suggested, Luther had found a way to make the Bible speak to ordinary Germans. His translation would greatly influence the German language 鈥 as the King James Bible later would English 鈥 so that today鈥檚 German speakers of all confessions and religions, and those of none, owe a debt going back to the fugitive monk who devoted his days in hiding to translation.

 Susan Reed, Lead Curator Germanic Collections

11 September 2017

International Collaboration: a Dutch Polymath and a Czech Printer in 17th-Century Rome

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We do not often realise just how much collaboration took place between foreigners working abroad rather than in their native countries in 17th-century Europe. One interesting example of such a collaboration is that between a Dutchman, Cornelius Meyer, and a Czech printer, Jan Jakub (or Giovanni Giacomo) Kom谩rek, who worked and collaborated in Rome, a veritable hive of intellectual activity at that time.

Meyer Arte de restituire tp
Title-page of Meyer鈥檚 L鈥檃rte di restituire a Roma la tralasciata navigatione del suo Tevere (Rome, 1685), 49.h.10 (1).

Little is known of Cornelius Meyer except that he was born in Holland in 1629, was generally accepted to be a polymath and trained as an architect, civil engineer and an engraver. He moved to Rome, one of the most vibrant and active capitals in Europe, in the 1680s and died there in 1701. He is principally remembered for his studies on technology, particularly his masterminding improvements to the navigability of the River Tiber in his L鈥檃rte di restituire a Roma la tralasciata navigatione del suo Tevere.

Meyer Nuovi ritrovamenti Dragon
Title-page of Meyer鈥檚 Nuovi ritrovamenti, divisi in due parti (Rome, 1689-96) 49.h.10 (2), showing the alleged dragon seen near the Tiber

He is also remembered for his description and detailed account of the sighting of a dragon 鈥榥elle paludi fuori di Roma鈥, in December 1691. Despite his detailed and beautiful engravings of the beast鈥檚 skeletal remains, Meyer鈥檚 account of the dragon was an elaborate hoax not unlike 鈥Piltdown man鈥 but was so skilfully produced and illustrated that he duped many learned men and scientific experts.

Meyer Occhiali
Engraving of three wearers of different kinds of spectacles, from Nuovi ritrovamenti

Meyer鈥檚 engraving of spectacles and their wearers for his work on various technologies, Nuovi ritrovamenti, divisi in due parti, printed by Komarek on behalf of the Accademia Fisico-matematica, one of the most important scientific academies in Rome, is extremely finely detailed, recalling similar images by Holbein. It imparts a very human perspective on what could have been a dryish discussion of the important science of optics, which had made very considerable advances since Galileo first used the telescope to study the heavens systematically. Moreover, by depicting the wearers of the spectacles in fine detail, two with fulsome beards, all three wearing caps or bonnets, and two wearing beautifully detailed ruffs, thereby modelling their visual aids, Meyer imparts a sense of scale and proportion to his illustration and is able to show the size of the pince-nez spectacles and their respective lenses he has designed (one set of which is even tinted) to their best advantage and how well they would look and fit on the noses of prospective clients.

Meyer Nuovi Ritrovamenti 1689
Title-page of the 1689 volume of Nuovi ritrovamenti, with Komarek鈥檚 imprint 鈥榓ll鈥橝ngelo custode鈥.

Despite the Italianization of his forenames to Giovanni Giacomo, the printer Jan Jakub Kom谩rek was born in Hradec Kr谩lov茅, in Bohemia, in 1648. He moved to Rome between 1669 and 1672 and was originally employed as a technician in the papal print works of the Congregazione della Propaganda della Fede, founded in 1622. He set up his own printing press at 鈥榓ll鈥橝ngelo custode鈥 and later, 鈥榓lla fontana di Trevi鈥 and was active until 1700, publishing several liturgical works by Giovanni Giustino Ciampini, Andrea Pozzo鈥檚 celebrated Prospettiva, and works for the Accademia of the Collegio Clementino. The work is an excellent example of very effective networking and of the creation of considerable synergy between author and publisher and of truly international co-operation: a Dutchman having his work printed by a Czech printer in Italy.

This co-operation is also a very timely reminder of the very great debt that the whole continent of Europe, and Italy in particular, owes to Germany. It was a German, Johannes Gutenberg, who invented printing with moveable type in the 1450s, something which played such an important role in disseminating new texts and ideas, and created an ever-increasing demand for the printed word. But we should also not forget the debt owed by Italy to German printers and engravers, from Albrecht D眉rer to Lucas Cranach. From the first introduction of printing to Italy in 1465 by Konrad Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz, who worked in partnership at Subiaco, printing was firmly established in Italy by German printers.

Denis Reidy, former Curator Italian and Modern Greek Collections 

06 August 2017

Belarus Celebrates 500 Years of Printing

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On 6 August, Belarus will celebrate 500 years of printing, and also 500 years of East Slavonic printing. On that day in 1517 Francysk Skaryna (in various traditions his name has also been spelt as Francis Skaryna, Frantsisk Skorina, Franciscus Scorina and more) published the Psalter, one of the books of the Bible.

Skaryna C.36.f.4 f242r Portrait of Skaryna from his translation of the Old Testament Books of Samuel and Kings, Bivliia ruska: Knigi tsarstv (Prague, 1518). C.36.f.4

Skaryna was born in the oldest Belarusian city, Polatsk. He was educated in universities in Krak贸w and Padua, and started his publishing endeavours in Prague 鈥 then one of the main centres of printing 鈥 and continued in Vilnius, which remained the most important centre of Belarusian culture and history from medieval times until the 1920s.

In the Belarusian cultural pantheon, Francysk Skaryna has a very special place. He was the most outstanding figure of the Renaissance and its humanist tradition in Belarus. He is also the most important Belarusian writer and translator of the period; an educator, philosopher and theologian, a fascinating entrepreneur and innovator, and an example of passionate patriotism.

Skaryna intended to publish the whole Bible. Between 1517 and 1519/20 he managed to produce more than half of the Old Testament 鈥 23 books. These were translated into the Belarusian version of the Church Slavonic language then widely used in the Orthodox Church. Skaryna鈥檚 translation is close to the 鈥楤enatska Bible鈥 published in the Czech language in Venice in 1506 (C.18.b.2.); however, he consulted texts in ancient Biblical languages, as well as Church Slavonic manuscripts. The text of his Ruthenian Bible (Bivliia ruska) was supplemented by the translator鈥檚 prologues and commentaries in the Old Belarusian language.

Skaryna C.36.f.4 f001rBeginning of Bivliia ruska: Knigi tsarstv

In the prologue to the Psalter Skaryna explained his motives: 鈥淪eeing the usefulness of this small book, I decided to print the Psalter in Ruthenian words in Slavonic language for the glory of God in the first place [...] and for the good of everyone, because the merciful God sent me to the world from this people.鈥 Skaryna intended his books for distribution among the common people (pospolityj lud) and other classes of his compatriots, the people of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (contemporary Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine). Interestingly, in virtually all prologues to his books, the printer mentioned his birthplace, the glorious city of Polack.

In 1520, Skaryna left Prague for Vilnius, the capital city of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, to open his own printing house. Printed Cyrillic books were still a novelty there, and the underdeveloped market dictated a different kind of literature. In Vilnius, Skaryna published The Small Travel Book (1522) and Apostol (1525) intended for daily prayer use by the largest possible audience, both clerics and lay people, as well as for use in primary schools.

Skaryna C.51.b.5 f001r

 Opening of  the Psalter (Vilna, 1522-1523). C.51.b.5

Scholars and churches in Belarus continue to debate Skaryna鈥檚 religious affiliation. It is likely that he was born into an Orthodox family but educated by Roman Catholics. He served as a secretary to Bishop Jan of Vilnius and may have converted to Roman Catholicism. In his own prayers (Orthodox in form), Skaryna referred to Catholic dogmas which allows us to assume that he might have been a convinced Uniate (or a Greek Catholic, in the contemporary terminology). Skaryna travelled widely throughout Protestant Europe and was at least once accused by a polemicist of being a 鈥渉eretic Hussite鈥, a follower of Jan Hus who was one of the forerunners of the Reformation. Church calendars in Skaryna鈥檚 books have some elements in common with the Protestant tradition.

After Belarus became part of the Russian Empire at the end of the 18th century, all Skaryna鈥檚 books were removed from Belarus. They ended up in state libraries in Moscow, St Petersburg, Vilnius and various private collections. Just over 500 books by the first Belarusian and East Slavonic printer are known to survive today, more than half of them in Russia. A significant number of Skaryna鈥檚 publications are found in Ukraine. Skaryna鈥檚 books were well known in Ukraine and influenced Ukrainian Biblical translation and printing traditions. In Britain, the British Library, Cambridge University Library  and Trinity College Cambridge have copies of Skaryna鈥檚 books. The Belarusian Library in London also has a small fragment of one of the Prague editions. Three digitised books printed by Skaryna from the British Library's collections  (Books of Samuel and Kings C.36.f.4; Psalter C.51.b.5; Acts and Epistles; C.51.b.6) will be donated to the National Library of Belarus in September 2017. 

Skaryna C.36.f.4 f065rOpening of part 2 of  Bivliia ruska: Knigi tsarstv

Skaryna C.36.f.4 f139vOpening of Book 3 of  Bivliia ruska: Knigi tsarstv

In 1925, both the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Belarusian community in the western part of the country 鈥 then controlled by Poland 鈥 celebrated 400 years of Belarusian printing. The date related to the first book Skaryna published in Vilnius. For the occasion, the Belarusian State University Library (now National Library of Belarus) purchased ten of Skaryna鈥檚 books from a private collector in Leningrad. Since then, no more of Skaryna鈥檚 works were acquired for Belarus until February 2017 when one of the Belarusian banks announced the purchase of a copy of The Small Travel Book for its corporate collection. Currently, this copy is on tour to Lithuania, Poland, the Czech Republic and Italy - countries where Skaryna lived - before returning in September 2017 to Minsk for a grand exhibition, 鈥楩rancis Skaryna and his epoch鈥.

DSCN5676

The first 17 volumes of the facsimile edition of Skaryna's books (Minsk, 2013- ) donated to the British Library by the National Library of Belarus.  Catalogued and photographed  by Rimma Lough. ZF.9.a.11377

The National Library of Belarus, meanwhile, is about to complete a multi-volume facsimile reproduction of all Skaryna鈥檚 books (picture above). Digital copies for this project were offered by many libraries and collections from around the world. The National Library is donating this publication to major libraries in Belarus and abroad, as well as to all institutions preserving Skaryna鈥檚 works. On February 27 this year a delegation from the National Library of Belarus presented a copy of the facsimile edition to the British Library in the special event held in the British Library. 

Skaryna Kristian Jensen

Kristian Jensen, Head of Collections and Curation, greeting the audience at the Belarusian event in the British Library. 

Alongside this project, the National Library of Belarus has been acquiring as many digital versions of all known copies of Skaryna鈥檚 publications as possible to create a comprehensive collection and make it accessible to researchers. The Library has truly been the driving force in celebrating 500 years of Belarusian and East Slavonic book printing. Hundreds of events have taken place in Belarus and abroad, and more are still ahead, among them an International Congress 鈥500 Years of Belarusian Printing鈥 and the most comprehensive exhibition of Skaryna鈥檚 works; both are taking place in Minsk in September 2017. 

Skaryna C.36.f.4 f241v

Colophon of Bivliia ruska: Knigi tsarstv with the imprint information: U虅 velikom Starom meste Prazskom, Tyseshta Pe獭tsot I Osm屎nadeset使 

Ihar Ivanou, Head of Learning Resources, QA Higher Education, London

Further reading:

Ebenezer Henderson, Biblical researches and Travels in Russia, including a tour in the Crimea; and the passage of the Caucasus: with observations on the state of the Rabbinical and Karaite Jews, and the Mohammedan and Pagan tribes, inhabiting the southern provinces of the Russian Empire (London, 1826).  1048.k.28.

Cyrillic books printed before 1701 in British and Irish collections :a union catalogue, compiled by Ralph Cleminson ... [et al.]. (London, 2000). 2708.h.903 and m01/33811

Alexander Nadson,  Skaryna's Prayer Book in: http://belarusjournal.com/article/skaryna%E2%80%99s-prayer-book-89

Arnold McMillin, Francis Skaryna鈥檚 Biblical Prefaces and their Place in Early Byelorussian Literature in: http://belarusjournal.com/article/francis-skaryna%E2%80%99s-biblical-prefaces-and-their-place-early-byelorussian-literature-27

P. V. Vladimirov, Doktor Francisk Skorina: ego perevody, pec虒atnyja izdanija i jazyk (Munich, 1989). X.0909/738(85)

Frantsisk Skorina i ego vremia : entsiklopedicheskii虇 spravochnik  (Minsk, 1990). YA.1994.b.231

V. F. Shmatau虇,  Iskusstvo knigi Frantsiska Skoriny (Moscow, 1990). 2708.h.486

 E. L. Nemirovskii虇, Frantsisk Skorina : zhizn使 i deiatel使nost使 belorusskogo prosvetitelia. (Minsk,1990). 2708.e.1972

H. IA. Halenchanka,   Frantsysk Skaryna--belaruski i u虇skhodneslavianski pershadrukar. (Minsk, 1993). YA.1996.a.12908

19 July 2017

A French Revolution Primer for Bastille Day!

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01 Order de Marche

Ordre de marche pour la Conf茅d茅ration. Qui aura lieu le 14 juillet, & dispositions dans le Champ-de-Mars. ([Paris], 1790). R.659.(32.)

Last Friday, 14 July, the Library鈥檚 French Collections curators attended the annual celebrations of the 鈥淔锚te nationale鈥 at the French Embassy in London. While a current exhibition at the British Library is commemorating the anniversary of the 1917 Russian Revolution the national celebration of 14 July in France gives us the opportunity to provide a sweeping summary of the events surrounding the 1789 French revolution, highlighting the presence of a major collection of c. 50,000 French revolutionary books, pamphlets and periodicals in the library collections, along with primary sources originating from the library of King George III, and a collection of items (manuscripts and prints, as well as engravings and paintings) relating to the doctor, journalist and revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat, donated by his bibliographer, Fran莽ois Ch猫vremont, at the end of the 19th century.

08 Te Deum

A political parody, Le nouveau Te Deum franc抬ais (Paris, 1790) F.R.82.(4.)

In May 1789, in the context of increasing financial difficulties in the kingdom of France, King Louis XVI summoned the Estates General (les 茅tats g茅n茅raux), who met according to their ancient structure of Clergy, Nobility and Commons. An immediate, defining and most contentious issue was how the voting system was to be decided 鈥 by head or by Estate. In June, fearing that military manoeuvres around Versailles were intended to disband the Estates General, the Third Estate, together with members of the other two Estates declared itself to be the Assembl茅e Nationale and vowed, by means of the Tennis Court Oath, not to separate until a constitution had been written for France. By this act, the Assembl茅e Nationale declared itself to be the supreme legislative authority for a unified Nation-State called France (instead of a collection of provinces with different laws and customs) owing loyalty to the same monarch.

03 Prospectus

 Prospectus d鈥檜ne souscription civique, propos茅e aux Amis de la Constitution, pour l鈥檈x茅cution d鈥檜n Tableau... repre虂sentant le serment fait 脿 Versailles dans un jeu de Paume, par les D茅put茅s des Communes, le 20 juin 1789 (Paris, 1790) R.68.(4.)

After the Paris insurrection, which involved the emblematic storming of the Bastille prison, on 14 July 1789, the National Constituent Assembly took a series of measures establishing major legal and administrative changes, promoting liberty, equality and fraternity, abolishing privileges and feudalism, and adopting the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. A first Constitution written by the National Assembly was accepted by the king in September 1791, sealing the end of the absolute monarchy; it was a period of governmental crisis and political discord and upheaval.

04 Adresse

 Pierre Athanase Nicolas P茅pin D茅grouhette, Adresse aux Franc抬ais de la Soci茅t茅 fraternelle des deux sexes, d茅fenseurs de la Constitution s茅ante aux Jacobins S. Honor茅 (Paris, 1791) F.R.82.(17.)

In the summer of 1792, after the invasion of the Tuileries Palace by the Parisian people, Louis XVI and his family were imprisoned in the Temple prison. The monarchy was overthrown and a new constitution and government were needed. Elections led to the creation of the National Convention, which declared France a republic on 22 September 1792. About a year later, a new revolutionary calendar, replacing religious references with seasonal one, was adopted, using this date as its starting point. While France was at war with Austria and Prussia, Louis XVI, who may have hoped a foreign victory against the French army would restore the absolute monarchy, was tried for high treason by the Convention and beheaded on 21 January 1793.

05 Sentinelle

 Revolutionary periodical: no. 73. 21 Novembre. L鈥橝n 1er de la R茅publique Franc抬aise. La Sentinelle, sur Louis le Dernier (Paris, 1792) F.902.(15.) 鈥楧ieu a calcul茅 ton reigne, et l鈥檃 mis a fin, tu as 茅t茅 mis dans la balance et tu as 茅t茅 trouv茅 trop leger鈥︹

A new Constitution was proclaimed on 24 June 1793, the Constitution of the Year I, but it was not enacted: while counter-revolutionary movements spread, especially in the West of France, Maximilien Robespierre and members of the radical Moutain (Montagnards) party, after having ousted the moderate 鈥楪irondin鈥 members of the Convention, started a dictatorial reign of Terror led through the Committee of Public Safety.

06 Constitution

Constitution de la R茅publique fran莽aise, starting with the D茅claration des droits et des devoirs de l鈥檋omme et du citoyen (Lons-Le-Saunier, [1795/96]). RB.23.a.37642

In autumn 1795, about a year after the fall and execution of Robespierre on 9 thermidor an II (26 July 1794), the new Constitution of the Year III established a new regime, the Directory. It was governed by five individuals, and established two chambers of Parliament (le Conseil des Cinq-Cents and le Conseil des Anciens). It dealt with wars inside and outside of France and lasted until Napol茅on Bonaparte鈥檚 coup d鈥橢tat in 1799, which was followed by the Consulate and Empire.

07 Robespierre

 L. Duperron, Vie secrette, politique et curieuse de M. I. M. Robespierre... (Paris [1793/94]) R.112.(17.)

The collection of French Revolutionary tracts now in the British Library, the second largest in the world after that of the Biblioth猫que Nationale de France, was acquired from the politician and writer John Wilson Croker in three stages in 1817, 1831 and 1856: each set starts with a different shelfmark F, FR and R, and is bound in a different colour, brown, red and blue. Croker was a devoted collector and bibliophile, who enabled the first large scale purchase of revolutionary tracts from a bookseller in Paris. The British Museum later acquired some of Croker鈥檚 own collection.


02 Basement

The world of print changed dramatically during and after the French Revolution: the intense political debates leading to the birth of the French republic, and the abolition of the ancien r茅gime corporations removed restrictions on setting up presses. Both in Paris and in different cities, towns and regions of France, small presses were used by groups and individuals eager to share their views in the increasingly public debate, thus contributing to the emergence of a public opinion.

09 Nous mourons

 Alphonse Louis Dieudonn茅 Martainville. Nous mourons de faim, le peuple est las, il faut que c抬a finisse (Paris, 1794) F.357.(1.)

Pamphlets of various sizes could be printed cheaply and quickly in a standard format and disseminated in relation with current concerns and events. The British Library鈥檚 French revolutionary tracts, usually short pieces but occasionally involving longer texts (including the first French translation of Edmund Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790, FR.327(5)), cover a variety of subjects, and in our collection are bound thematically, grouping political ideas and reports on the activities of public bodies such as the 茅tats g茅n茅raux or the Assembl茅e nationale, economic thought and discussion of financial issues, the death penalty, military events, religious matters, revolutionary festivals...

10 Discours

 Louis Claude de Cressy, Discours sur l鈥檃bolition de la peine de mort (Paris, 1791) F.R.223.(6.)

They bear witness to the development of new legislation, social change, power transfer and use of violence in this turbulent period. Under the Terror, many tracts were printed in defence of accused citizens trying to reach the committees in charge of their fate. The collection also includes many newspaper issues, such as L鈥橝mi du Peuple (1789-93), written by Jean-Paul Marat, or the Journal des Amis de la Constitution (1790-91).

The three series of Revolutionary tracts are currently undergoing conservation to repair volumes whose bindings have been damaged by time and use. These books, periodicals and pamphlets, which tell the history of French constitutional government at the time it was formed, are a printed testimony to the growth, evolution and activity of a newly created Nation-State which owes its existence to a seminal event of the modern world.

11 Chanson civique

 Derante, Chanson civique au sujet de la F茅d茅ration du 14 juillet... d茅di茅e 脿 tous les bons patriotes. [Paris, 1790]) F.296.(4.)

Ir猫ne Fabry-Tehranchi, Curator, Romance Collections

References/further reading:

British Library Collection guides, 鈥French Revolutionary Tracts鈥. 

Audrey C. Brodhurst 鈥The French Revolution Collections in the British Library鈥, Electronic British Library Journal (1976) 

Jacques de Cock, 鈥The 鈥榗ollection of Marat's bibliographer鈥 at the British Library鈥, Electronic British Library Journal (1993) 

French Revolution Digital Archive (Stanford University Libraries and the Biblioth猫que nationale de France) 

French Revolutionary Collections in the British Library: list of contents of the three special collections of pamphlets, journals and other works in the British Library, relating chiefly to the French Revolution. Compiled by G. K. Fortescue; revised and augmented by A. C. Brodhurst. (London, 1979) X.800/31072.

France Diplomatie, 鈥The 14th of July : Bastille Day鈥 (01/07/2017)

L鈥橢lys茅e, 鈥La f锚te nationale du 14-juillet鈥 (01/07/2017)

Des McTernan, 鈥楾he printed French Revolution collections in the British Library鈥, FSLG Annual Review, 6 (2009-10), 31-44 https://frenchstudieslibrarygroup.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/fslg-annual-review-2010.pdf

The Newberry Library's French Revolution Collection digitised on the Internet Archive 

The Oxford handbook of the French Revolution, ed. David Andress (Oxford, 2015) YC.2016.b.1415