Daily Archives: 22 December 2009

Bibliofilia in Rusia

Fragmente din articolul: M. Friedberg, Soviet Russia’s Bibliophiles and Their Foes: A Review Article, in Slavic Review, Vol. 35, Nr. 4 (Dec., 1976), pp. 699-714. Lectura placuta.

In the XVIIIth c., the library of Prince D.M. Golitsyn numbered about 6000 volumes: we have this information because when the prince fell into disfavor with the monarch, the library was confiscated by the police. The holdings of the library of N.P. Rumiantsev, probably the largest in the XIXth c. Russia, included 28.000 books, 710 mss., and 1500 maps. At the turn of the century, in the distant reaches of Siberia, Gennadii Vasil’evich Iudin amassed a library of 80000 volumes. Iudin was a jealous guardian of his possession, but he would on occasion relent. Thus, he allowed the use of his library to a political exile then in Siberia who, like so many others, used the period of his banishment to catch up on research and writing. The exile was Vladimir Ul’ianov, who later became Lenin. It should perhaps be noted that the Iudin collection was purchased in 1906 with American taxpayers’ money and now reposes in the Library of Congress – where it is used, among others, by more recent Russian political exiles.

In 1888, A.S. Suvorin, Chekhov’s longtime friend and publisher, needed a rare book. The work in question was Alexander Radischev’s Journey from St. Patersburg to Moscow, a fictionalized eighteenth-century tract that was banned by the censors because of its attack on the institution of serfdom. Suvorin finally prevailed on P.V. Shchapov, described by a historian as a “book fanatic” to lend him a copy so that it could be reprinted (the ban had by then been lifted). The copy was sent to the typesetters who, unaware of the book’s rarity, tore it up into individual pages, losing a few in the process. And even though Suvorin bought (at enormous expense) an exact replica of the destroyed copy, Shchapov “soon died in a state o complete insanity caused, in the opinion of his doctors by mental suffering that was triggered by the loss of a beloved book.” That bibliophiles are erratic, capable of extremes of greed as well as selfless concern for the happiness of fellow collectors, is attested by the biography of P.A. Efremov (1830 – 1907). His passion for collecting rare books led him to “manufacture” rarities, which he did by reproducing articled from journals and having them bound into covers and jackets printed privately for him alone.On the other hand, in his last will and testament he actually requested that his impressive collection not be preserved intact. Rather, he wrote, it should be broken up by having the books scattered as widely as possible. In this manner, Efremov thought, he would bring much joy to many collectors who would have as much fun hunting for these books as he did in his lifetime. Then there is also the documented story of a Russian aristocrat who, eager to impress friends and acquaintances with his erudition, created what may be called a Potemkin library. He borrowed overnight a large collection of impressive books  and had the displayed conspicuously in his house, where he was giving a large party. The following morning all the books were returned to the dealer

The swan song of old Russia’s bibliophilia was a magnificent volume entitled Pokhvala knige (In Praise of Books) that appeared in 1917, only a few months before the Revolution. Six hundred fifty copies were printed on rag paper and 400 more on ordinary paper. Superbly illustrated, the collection attests to the great interest in book collecting and in the graphic arts in Russia at the turn of the century.

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Sperand ca v-am starnit curiozitatea prin randurile de mai sus, intregul articol poate fi DL de aici.

Un excelent site, in rusa: Antiquarian Book (link-ul este pe Google Translate).

Fiinta

Sa vedeti ce istorie. Asta noapte a fost o noapte din acelea in care Dormicum-ul se afla peste mari si tari. Adica oriunde, numai unde trebuie nu. Adevarul este ca a trebuit sa lucrez la proiectul meu. La un moment dat – pe la 5 fara ceva dimineata – a trebuit sa caut ceva legat de Fiinta (einai). Chestii abstracte rau… Ce credeti insa ca am descoperit cautand ceea ce nu prea ma interesa sa gasesc, si gasind ceea ce nu cautasem niciodata?