Guide to the Research Collections

- Section -- II: -- THE HUMANITIES


The Slavonic Division attempts to obtain the best available edition of the collected literary works of major and minor authors. This may be the most recent edition, but early editions of authors published before 1917 or editions published outside Russia are often found to be more textually accurate. Fiction is collected on a selective basis in all Balto-Slavic languages except Russian, Polish, and Czech and Slovak, discussed in the following sections. Poetry and drama collections are strong. Juvenile literature is acquired selectively in all languages.

The Slavonic Division regularly acquires translations, usually into Russian, of classic authors such as Homer and Dante. It maintains extensive English translations from the Balto-Slavic languages.10 As the division's collecting responsibility extends to minor languages, there are a number of translations from lesser languages into those more widely used, as in the case of translations from Bulgarian or Lithuanian into Russian. There are also a number of translations of Russian classics into the minor languages. The Jewish Division collects and retains the works of Russian authors translated into Yiddish.

Russian Literature

Russian fiction is collected on a representative basis; poetry and drama are acquired comprehensively. Collected editions in belles-lettres are a feature of the Russian-language holdings of some 21,000 volumes; all collected editions of Russian authors published by learned institutions are acquired as a matter of policy. In certain cases major authors have not been published in collected editions (the Symbolists are an example); the division attempts to obtain works in any form, either as separate book publications, in photocopy, or on microfilm. Individual editions of an author's work are ordinarily purchased as they are needed, rather than as the result of a specific policy. Literary criticism and bibliography for Russian authors are well represented in all languages. The division also collects a sampling of current Russian science fiction.


Literary translations into Russian are acquired selectively, with the exception of world classics, all of which are available. Translations into Russian of texts in other Balto-Slavic languages are often purchased. The Slavonic Division collects translations of poetry into Russian on the theory that these translations have been made by poets and are themselves works of literary merit. In addition, translations from Russian into other languages are well represented. Also included are a number of first editions of translations into English of Turgenev, Chekhov, and Lermontov.

Periodical and Society Publications

The collecting policy for periodicals in Russian literature is representative; the policy for the journals of learned societies is comprehensive. Both categories form an outstanding feature of the resources.

The Yezhemesyachnyye sochineniya (1755-64), and the Drevnyaya ross[utilde]skaya vivliofika (1783-84) come from the eighteenth century. But the holdings reach their greatest strength with the golden age of Russian literature in the nineteenth century. Representative titles include Sovremennik (1848-65; incomplete), Vestnik yevropy (1803-26; 1866-1917), Biblioteka dlya chteniya (1834-65; incomplete), and Otechestvennyya zapiski (1839-84). Twentieth-century holdings include the periodicals Apollon, Vesy, and Shipovnik from the early years of the century, and the current Oktyabr', Zvezda, Novy&icaron; mir and Yunost'. Also of interest are the Russian-language periodicals published in other nations: from the United States come Novy&icaron; zhurnal and Vozdushnyye puti, from France Sovremennyye zapiski and Vozrozhdeniye,

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and from Germany Grani and Mosty. The division currently receives 25 literary periodicals in Russian.

Individual Authors

A discussion of the holdings for several individual authors will afford an impression of the content and depth of the Russian literary resources. In each case a large number of the catalog card entries refer to original or critical material published in journals.

Fiodor M. Dostoyevski is represented by 300 titles, for the most part later editions. Featured are collected works and numerous translations into English. Hebrew, Italian, German, Latvian, Hungarian, and other languages. Another feature of the Dostoyevski holdings is the presence of periodicals containing the first appearances of many of his works, including Epokha and Vremya (of which Dostoyevski was joint editor). Critical works number 800 titles, more than half of which are in languages other than Russian.

Translations compose the greater part of the 260 items by Nikolai V. Gogol. The larger number are works published after the author's death. A further 470 titles represent critical, bibliographical, and biographical works. The Theatre Collection holds typescripts for American performances of Gogol plays and a great amount of material relating to international productions of his plays dating from the late nineteenth century to the present.

Anton P. Chekhov holdings number some 330 entries for original titles and approximately the same number for critical material. Typescripts, acting versions, and production material for Chekhov plays are found in the Theatre Collection.

Rare Books

First and early editions of literary works are not a feature of the collections, with the exception of certain collected editions. Lermontov's Geroi nashevo vremeni (A Hero of Our Time) dated 1840, some first and early editions of Gogol and Pushkin, and seventeen plays by Catherine II which appear in Rossi&icaron;ski teatr (1786-87) are among noteworthy items.

Belorussian Literature

Belorussian literary periodical and society publications are collected comprehensively; fiction is collected selectively; and other materials are collected representatively. The holdings of belles-lettres number approximately 500 volumes.

Several rare volumes in the Slavonic Division represent the beginning of printing in Belorussia. Notable among them is a copy of Chetveroyevangeliye (The New Testament), dated 1575.

The nineteenth century is represented by several pamphlets published in Cracow and London around 1870. The holdings from 1905 to 1920 are uneven; when possible, gaps are filled with photocopies. From 1920 to the early 1930s the holdings are fairly strong in belles-lettres. Representation is very uneven in all fields for the period from 1935 to 1955. After 1960 the collections are good for publications from both the BSSR and western (Polish) Belorussia.

As is the case with most of the national republics of the Soviet Union, the Slavonic Division has received all of the publications of the various academies of science in the BSSR. As the division has been largely unable to obtain national catalogs or bibliographies, it has been difficult to determine what other materials have been published. The library receives émigré material published in the United States, Germany, France, and Great Britain, including the important émigré literary periodical Polymya.

Bulgarian Literature

A holding of approximately 1,200 volumes emphasizes Bulgarian publications of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Currently both monograph and serial publications are acquired on a representative basis. Serial files include Ezik (1946-, incomplete) and the lzvestiya (1961-) of the B&ucaron;lgarska Akademiya Na Naukite. The division currently receives 5 literary publications in Bulgarian.

Collected works and the history and criticism of literature are the strongest aspects of the collection. Ivan Vazov is the Bulgarian author best represented, with approximately 40 entries for works by him; included are 2 translations into English and an opera score based on his works, along with some 20 entries for works about him. There are 12 titles by Pencho Slaveykov and a similar number about him. The humorous novel Bay-Ganyu by Aleko Konstantinov is present in 5 editions, the earliest dated 1895.

Church Slavonic

Because of its close relationship with Old Church Slavonic, the oldest known form of the Slavic language, Church Slavonic is of great interest to the Slavonic Division. The division catalog holds approximately 200 entries for dictionaries, grammars, and other philological works, and about 250 entries representing texts and translations. Although the language is no longer written, the division acquires all new editions of standard texts when they are published. The collecting policy is comprehensive.

One of the library's treasures is the Triod' tzvetnaya (1491), a printed liturgical work in Church Slavonic. The Manuscripts and Archives Division has an illuminated lectionary of the Acts of the Apostles on vellum from the late fourteenth century. In the Spencer Collection is a group of manuscripts in the language, on paper and illustrated, dating from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries and including the Four Gospels, Canticles, a "Ladder" of St. John Climachus, and other works.

Czech and Slovak Literatures

History, criticism, and bibliography of Czechoslovakian literature are collected comprehensively; literary works are collected on a representative basis. The collection of 2,800 volumes is strong in all aspects for the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the division acquires all contemporary literary material, both original and critical.

Collected works of authors are well represented; editions of individual works are acquired only if they are not found in collected works, or if they contain important critical or textual material. Translations into Czech are seldom purchased except for major authors; in accordance with a standard library policy, however, translations into English or other languages more widely known than the original are acquired.

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Literary periodicals and society publications are collected on a representative basis. Among the nineteenth-century titles are Wlastimi (1840-42) and Kv&ebreve;ty (1879-1915); twentieth-century titles include Plamen (1959-) and Ceská literatura (1953-). The Slavonic Division currently receives ten literary periodicals from Czechoslovakia.

There are sixty cards for works by the Czech author Karel Capek in the Slavonic Division catalog, and a similar number for works about him. Prompt-books and typescripts of his plays, particularly R.U.R. and The Robber are held by the Theatre Collection. The Czech poet Karel Mácha is represented by nine catalog entries for works by him, and fifteen for works about him. There are five entries for Slovak author L'udovit Stúr and eight entries for works about him.

Latvian Literature

Literature forms a strong part of the Latvian holdings, constituting some two-thirds of the total 3,500 volumes. Other strong subjects are linguistics, archaeology, history, political science, economics, and ethnography, with folklore, and particularly folk songs, an important feature of the latter. The Latvian collection is substantially complete for items published in Latvia itself; there is a fair collection of material published outside the country. The Slavonic Division endeavors to develop the resources in the latter category.

Bibliographical control of the literature is provided from 1587 to the present by copies of the bibliographies of Karl Napiersky and Janis Misins, the Latvijas Valsts bibliotekas biletens, and the Latvijas PSR preses hronika. Outside Latvia, the exile bibliographies of Benjamin Jegers and Janis Velde give similar coverage. Dictionaries of the language in the library include G.F. Stender's Lettisches lexicon (1789-91) in a first edition, and a copy of the monumental publication of Karlis Muelenbachs and J. Endzel[imacr ]ns entitled Latvie[sacute]u valodas v[amacr ]rdn[imacr ]ca (1923-56). Folk song holdings center around the exhaustive K. Barons Latwju dainas (first edition 1915; second edition 1922) which lists 35,789 basic songs and 182,000 variations.

Collected works of major authors are a feature of the literature collections, together with all standard works in literary criticism. Rudolfs Blaumanis is represented by approximately 50 titles, and there are 3 critical works about him. The division holds first editions of his novels Andriksons, Naves ena, and Salna pavasari, all published in 1899. J[amacr ]nis Pliek[scaron]ans (known as J. Rainis) is represented by approximately 50 titles including collected works and 12 translations into Esperanto, English, Russian, and other languages. The author himself translated the works of Dumas, Goethe, and Schiller into Latvian; all are in the Slavonic Division collections. There are some 6 books of criticism on Rainis.

Of the exiled writers the Research Libraries have a good collection of the works of Zenta Maurina in both Lettish and German, as well as her translations from the English, French, and Swedish. There are complete holdings of the poetry of Veronika Str[emacr ]lerte, Zina[imacr ]da Lazda, and Kl[amacr ]ra Z[amacr ]le; and of the fiction and drama of An[scaron]lavs Eglitis.

Latvian journals received include Karogs (1946-), perhaps the outstanding literary periodical; among the literary periodicals published outside Latvia are Akademiska dzive (Indianapolis), Jaun[amacr ] gaita (Ann Arbor), and Universitas (Stuttgart).

Lithuanian Literature

The collecting policy in this area is representative for both monographs and periodical and society publications. Most Soviet Lithuanian academic publications are received on exchange, but little else in received. Only a small proportion of the substantial number of books in Lithuanian published outside the Soviet Union comes to the division. Although the library endeavors to acquire these materials they remain very difficult to obtain. A number of pamphlets in Lithuanian are in the "n.c." classmark (materials not separately cataloged). The library currently receives three Lithuanian literary periodical and society publications.

Macedonian Literature

The Macedonian literature holdings of approximately 50 volumes compose a substantial representation of a new literary language; the entire resources in Macedonian are limited to 100 volumes. The division's collecting policy is representative for this literature. The establishment of exchange relationships with other libraries and the purchase of material from dealers continues to build the collection.

Polish Literature

The history, criticism, and bibliography of Polish literature are collected comprehensively, while poetry, fiction, and drama are collected on a representative basis. Fiction is the genre held most extensively, with an approximate total of 4,700 volumes.

The library currently receives 10 periodical titles related to the literature of Poland. Included are Wiadomo[sacute]ci literackie both in the original Polish publication and the London continuation, and Kultura.

Translations of works of Polish literature into English are acquired as a matter of policy. Other translations are purchased sparingly, as in the case of translations from Polish into more widely used languages. More than 25 works of Henryk Sienkiewicz are present in languages other than Polish, including Quo Vadis, which is held in 6 separate English translations, and also as a play and a libretto.

First or early editions are not a strong feature of the holdings; a notable exception is Adam Mickiewicz's epic Pan Tadeusz (1834). When possible the division obtains collected editions of major authors; if a collected edition is available, editions of individual works are not acquired unless they contain new critical material. An author of the stature of Mickiewicz is represented by some 150 entries in the Public Catalog, and by some 290 additional entries for works concerning him, including the Mickiewicz-Blätter (1956-).

The Slavonic Division adds to its holdings of Polish imprints before 1600 and other rare materials as funds become available.

Serbo-Croatian Literature

Serbian (which employs the Cyrillic alphabet) and Croatian (which employs the Roman alphabet) literatures are acquired on a representative basis. Fiction is acquired selectively. Of the larger

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language units of the Slavonic Division, the Serbo-Croatian with its 1,800 volumes has shown the greatest growth: 400 percent from 1945 to 1966. Literary holdings commence with the second half of the nineteenth century, and include the major works of Borisav Stankovi[cacute], Steven Sremac, August [Scaron]enoa, Ivo Vojnovi[cacute], Vladimir Nazor, and Ivo Andrié. Each author is generally represented by a collected edition and several separate editions of individual works; there are few translations, with the exception of the works of Ivo Vojnovi[cacute] and Ivo Andri[cacute]. First or early editions are generally limited to authors of the nineteenth century. Literary journals include the publications of the Matica Srpska, and the periodical [Zcaron]ivot issued by the Jugoslovenska Akademja.

Slovenian Literature

Although this is a small collection of some 100 volumes, it is considered to be strong in the field, and is growing rapidly. The collecting policy is representative except for fiction, which is acquired selectively. The classic writers Ivan Cankar and France Pre[scaron]eran are held in twentieth-century editions.

Sorbian (Lusatian) Literature

The division seeks to build up its holdings of some 120 volumes by acquiring all available items published in Sorbian, the language of the 500,000 Slavs remaining in Germany. Most of the material obtained is in the fields of literature and philology, with scientific material confined for the most part to folklore and ethnology. Literary material is largely of the twentieth century, although there are dictionaries and works of individual authors from the nineteenth century in the collection.11 Perhaps the most significant item is the first grammar of the language, Georg Matthaei's Wendische Grammatica (1721). The Institut za Serbski Ludospyt's Spisy has been received by the library since 1954.

Ukrainian Literature

Although periodical and society publications in Ukrainian are collected comprehensively, other literature is acquired on a representative basis. This means that periodicals are perhaps the strongest feature of the holdings of some 2,000 volumes. The most important pre-Revolutionary periodical, Kiyevskaya starina, is held in a nearly complete run. A rare group of periodicals published during the politically turbulent 1920s, among them Zhytta i revolyutziya, Chervony[imacr ] shlyakh, and Visti, has been preserved. Works of individual authors of the same period are equally rare, as in the case of Mykola Khvyl'ovyi. The library currently receives 7 periodicals in Ukrainian literature, one of the most important being Zapysky naukovoho tovarystva.

Fiction and poetry are a stronger aspect of this literature than drama. The division obtains a good selection of the émigré publications from areas in the United States, Canada, and Germany, as well as the publications of the USSR. Taras Shevchenko is the most fully represented Ukrainian author with 90 titles, including collected works and individual editions, the larger part twentieth-century printings. Critical works about Shevchenko are more numerous, totaling more than 300 entries. A second great Ukrainian author, Ivan Franko, is represented by 80 original titles (including the 20-volume jubilee edition of 1956), and a similar number of critical works and bibliographies. The Slavonic Division has a first edition of his work on Ukrainian proverbs (1901-10).