Guide to the Research Collections

- Section -- II: -- THE HUMANITIES


Altaic Literatures

The collection policy is representative for literatures in the Altaic languages. Materials received before 1940 are maintained in the Slavonic Division, for the most part designated by the "n.c." classmark (materials preserved but not separately cataloged); materials received since that time are administered by the Oriental Division.

In 1965 it was estimated that the library held 810 books and pamphlets and 24 magazines published before 1946 in Kazakh, Uzbek, Kirghiz, Turkoman, Karakalpak, and Uigur.1 These rare publications range from Uzbek Muslim poetry to Kazakh Communist Party reports, and from material on education among the Kirghiz to the planning and utilization of the Turkistanian cotton crop. The larger part of the material in the collection is printed in the simplified Arabic script, although material currently received is in modified Cyrillic scripts.

Armenian Literature

This is considered one of the best collections of Armenian literature in the United States, and

-------------------------------------------- page 119
contains some 720 volumes. Material is acquired on a representative basis. The periodical holdings are strong; there are runs of Gotchnag (New York, 1910- ) and Hayrenik (Boston, 1901- ), and literary and popular journals from Armenia as well as the daily newspaper, Sovetakar Hayasdan. Some 100 items by Armenians in the United States represent the remarkable literary production of a small ethnic group; other holdings emphasize Bibles and saints' lives.

Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Literatures

The library's collection of the literatures of China, Japan, and Korea are not exceptionally strong. The literature of each nation is acquired on a representative basis. Material published before 1912 has generally not been acquired, and a great percentage of the material published since 1912, especially in Japan, is scientific and technical.

Two literary periodicals are currently received from the People's Republic of China, Renmin wenxue and Ju ben; from Nationalist China comes Sinica. Approximately 900 books in Chinese literature include 250 volumes of poetry and some 640 volumes of fiction, drama, and essays. There are editions of major works in Chinese, with many translations into English and other European languages. Collected works and standard texts are not a feature of the holdings.

Japanese literature is represented by some 200 volumes of poetry and 760 of fiction, drama, and essays. Among Japanese literary periodicals currently received is Ashibi. Editions of individual works are more often found than collected editions; there are a great number of translations into English and other European languages. Drama, and especially the Noh drama, is well represented.

The extensive collection of manuscripts and printed books from Japan in the Spencer Collection adds strength in this area. Some 350 printed books range from the Ise monogatari of 1608, considered the earliest Japanese story book printed from movable wooden type, to early nineteenth-century first editions of the novels of Bakin. There are a number of editions of the Genji monogatari emaki by Lady Murasaki (the earliest dated 1650) as well as novels, plays, and ghost stories. There is an equally rich collection of some 235 Japanese manuscripts, a large number of which are literary. Of great interest is the Matsukase murasame emaki (Love-drama of Matsukase and Murasame), one of the earliest Noh scrolls in existence, dated 1520, a 1554 manuscript of Genji monogatari emaki, and the original manuscript of Bakin's Mukashi gatari shichiya no kura, which was published in 1810.

The collection of Korean literature is currently growing at a rapid pace. Modern collected editions of both classic and modern authors are a feature of this group of approximately 260 volumes.

Manchu Literature

The collecting policy in this instance is exhaustive. As little material is available, the holdings are small but adequate, and predominantly historical. Included are editions of the Manchu Shih and the regulations for the Eight Banners or divisions of the Imperial Army. The Oriental Division holds 52 reels of microfilm from the Tenri collection of the Manchu books in Manchu characters, consisting of dictionaries, grammars, and readers, in all numbering some 43,000 pages. A small group of manuscripts are in the Manuscripts and Archives Division; these are official texts and decrees of the Ch'ing dynasty, the oldest dated 1661.2

Georgian Literature

Although the collecting policy is representative in the Georgian language, the holdings were minimal before 1950. The collection has since grown to some 300 volumes, with particular strength in the fields of linguistics and belles-lettres, although scientific material is also collected. Georgian émigré literature is acquired when available. Editions of Shot'ha Rusthaveli's epic The Knight in the Tiger Skin, both in the original and in translation, are a feature of the resources. Additional materials in Georgian received in the 1920s and 1930s are found in the "n.c." classmark (material preserved but not separately cataloged) in the Slavonic Division.

Persian Literature

Three aspects of Persian literature are collected comprehensively: Avestan and Pahlevi works (which are predominantly liturgical rather than literary); Persian poetry, from the time of Firdaus[imacr ]; and works relating to the Rubaíyát of Omar Khayy[amacr ]m. Other literary works are acquired on a representative basis. There is an approximate total of 840 volumes in the collection.

Persian poetry in the Oriental Division commences with the classical writers such as Firdaus[imacr ], Rum[imacr ], Sa'di, and H[amacr ]fiz. In the Oriental Division catalog there are some 50 entries devoted to Firdaus[imacr ]; 50 for H[amacr ]fiz; 25 for Rum[imacr ]; and 70 for Sa'di. These entries represent the collected and individual works of the poets in Persian, numerous translations into European languages, critical works, and articles in periodicals. Thirteen manuscripts of the works of these poets in the Manuscripts and Archives Division date from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. A group of 24 illustrated manuscripts in the Spencer Collection includes a 1614 copy of the Sh[amacr ]hn[amacr ]m[amacr ]h (Book of Kings); another Sh[amacr ]hn[amacr ]m[amacr ]h is a 1550 translation into Turkish with more than 100 miniatures.3

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayy[amacr ]m is present in some 150 volumes, for the most part translations into English and other European languages. In the Berg Collection are copies of the first 4 editions of the Edward Fitzgerald translation, and also copies of his earlier translation of J[amacr ]m[imacr ]'s Salámán and Absál (1856).

Southeast Asian Literatures

The resources in the literatures of various southeast Asian nations are not strong. Such materials

-------------------------------------------- page 120
are acquired on a representative basis. Participation in the PL-480 Program since 1964 brought Indonesian materials to the library for several years. Critical materials in the Western languages are relatively abundant, particularly in periodical format.

Six Burmese, forty-nine Thai, and three Indonesian manuscripts in the Spencer Collection are for the most part religious in nature.

Spanish and English are represented in the collection of Philippine literature, in addition to works in the native languages. Works by and about José Rizal y Alonso include Noli me tángere (Berlin, 1887) and Mi último pensamiento (Hong Kong, 1897).

Turkish Literature

Turkish literature is acquired on a representative basis. General literature, including translations of the Bible, is perhaps the strongest category with some 200 volumes; poetry and drama are represented by 120 volumes; there are 120 volumes of fables, among which editions of the fables of Nasr-al-Din are the most numerous. Translations of Turkish literature into the Western European languages are not plentiful in the collections. The shortage of qualified catalogers has produced a backlog of Turkish literature not presently available to the public.