Annual Report of the Division of Slavic Literature for 1937
(From the report of the Chief, Mr. N. R. Rodionoff)
Exhibition of Pushkiniana
As a tribute to Alexander Sergieevich PUSHKIN, the great Russian poet (1799-1837), the following brief review of the Library's Exhibition in memory of him precedes this year the usual subjects of the Division's annual reports, its development and its routine work.
The approaching of the 10th day of February, 1937, the date of the centenary of the death of the poet, and the fact that he had almost been unknown to the general American public prompted the Division to arrange an exhibition of the most interesting publications from about 750 items of the Library's Pushkiniana.
The show cases assigned for that purpose on the 2d floor of the Main Lobby gave room to 106 books, 83 prints, and 2 musical scores of well known Russian operas based on, and inspired by, Pushkin's works. All the exhibits were supplied with captions in the English, and the plots of the most important works of the poet were outlined in the captions.
Most of the exhibited material has long been in the possession of the Library and in the care of the Division of Slavic Literature. To this material, however, many new acquisitions in the Russian were added, with several publications from the Library's non-Slavic Pushkiniana belonging to the other Divisions.
The Exhibition has been arranged chronologically, by the four periods of the poet's life, namely: 1) Childhood and Youth (1799-1820), 2) Banishment: a) to Southern Russia (1820-1824) and b) to his mother's estate Mikhaylovskoye (1824-1826), 3) Years of wandering (1826-1836), and 4) Domestic troubles, duel, and death (1836-1837), - with three additional sections: 5) the most important editions of Pushkin's collected works, 6) the most interesting books on, and the prints pertaining to, his life and works, and 7) translations of his works into foreign languages.
A brief sketch of Pushkin's life and works was especially compiled in four sections (corresponding to the periods of his life named above), printed in large type, and exhibited by the sections, thus supplying each of them with an explanatory and introductory text. The sketch, however brief, has been of considerable assistance to those numerous visitors, who had known little, if anything, about Pushkin. For, the great Russian poet is not well-known in the English-speaking countries, on account of the difficulties of translation of his poetical works into English.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, for example, devotes but not over 1,000 words to Pushkin, and The Encyclopedia Americana contains [an] even much shorter sketch of him.
Considerable assistance in preparation of the captions and the sketch had been rendered to the Division of Slavic Literature by Mr. Carl Ginsburg, of the Catalog Division, who had devoted many hours, of his own time exclusively, to this exacting work and thus had shown his splendid spirit of cooperation.
It would also be only fair to state that about 150 hours of the uncompensated overtime work connected with the Exhibition constitute a personal tribute of the Chief of the Division of Slavic Literature to the great Russian poet.
Some of the major items of the Exhibition deserve special mention as follows:
- Pushkin, A. S. Ruslan i Liudmila (Ruslan and Ludmila), poem (written in 1817-1820), in its first and second editions, of 1820 and 1828, respectively, both published in St. Petersburg by the author himself. It is his first long poem, in six cantos, and its first edition is also his first published book. For, prior to 1820, his short works appeared in magazines only. At the time of the publication of the book the author was 21 years old.
The immediate and great success of the poem made its author famous all over Russia. The same year he wrote a few additional lines to the Sixth Canto and a magnificent Epilogue, and they were published in a magazine. In 1828 he included them in the second edition of the poem and also added the Prologue, in which he exquisitely depicts the Russian Fairy-Land.
The Library's copies of both editions of the poem were acquired in 1907 from Mr. G. V. Yudin, of Krasnoyarsk, Siberia. They are bound in contemporary leather bindings and ornated with very rare frontispieces, namely: in the first edition - an engraving by M. Ivanov, which reproduces a few illustrations to the poem made by I. Ivanov, and in the second edition - an engraving by Professor N. I. Utkin (1780-1868), which reproduces the portrait of Pushkin made from life in 1827 by the famous Russian artist O. A. Kiprenskii (1782-1836).
- Pushkin, A.S. Evgenii Oniegin (Eugene Oniegin), novel in verse (written in 1823-1831), in its early editions, all published by the author himself in St. Petersburg and Moscow, namely: a) the first edition, of 1825-1832, which appeared serially in seven consecutive books, comprising all the eight chapters (cantos) of the novel and having individual pagination; the author made seven books of eight cantos by publishing the Cantos 4th and 5th in one book; b) the reprints of the Cantos 1st and 2d, of 1829 and 1830, respectively, also in separate books; c) the first edition of the novel in one book, of 1833, with continuous pagination; and d) the second edition in one (miniature) book, published in 1837, a few days before the poet's death.
Complete sets of all the eight cantos of Eugene Oniegin in their first editions of seven books are very rare. The Library's set had lacked but Canto 1st published in 1825. Fortunately, Mr. Simeon J. Bolan, of New York City, donated a copy of this canto to the Library on August 9, 1937, and thus completed its set. Although the copy donated by him has no covers, his gift should be considered as a very generous one and well fitting. For, the Library's set of Cantos 2-8, acquired in 1907 from Mr. G. V. Yudin, has no covers also. Therefore, the Library now has a complete and uniform set of the first editions of all the eight cantos (in seven books) of Eugene Oniegin, one of Pushkin's major masterpieces.
- Pushkin, A. S., editor and publisher. Sovremennik (The Contemporary). A quarterly magazine. Complete set of four volumes, for 1836, containing several contributions by Pushkin himself. On the day of his fatal duel Pushkin worked hard selecting material for the next volumes of the magazine, and his literary friends published its volumes 5-8 after his death, during 1837. The Library has a set of these volumes also, but it has not been exhibited, on account of the limited space in the show cases. The Library's set of all the eight volumes of the "Sovremennik." for 1836-1837, was acquired in 1907 from Mr. G. V. Yudin.
There were also on the Exhibition the best of the posthumous and modern editions of Pushkin's works and many outstanding items of the pictorial Pushkiniana, as illustrations to his masterpieces in poetry and prose; various reproductions of his most famous portraits both made from life and executed as historical paintings; pictures of the numerous places connected with his life, work, and death, etc. Since the many of the exhibited pictorial reproductions had been done in the exquisite colors of their originals, a play of those colors, effected from the changing light of the Exhibition during the day and from the varying distances and angles of observation, considerably stimulated the interest of visitors to the great Russian genius, his works, and his tragical fate.
The most important, old and new, literature on Pushkin, in the Russian, English, and French, was also exhibited in the substantial number of items, as well as translations of his works into several foreign languages, with a group of the best English translations prevailing in this section.
The two following publications, displayed in the section, are especially interesting as containing the earliest English translations of Pushkin's works:
- Shaw, Thomas Budge (1811-1863). "Pushkin the Russian Poet." In Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, London, 1845. Volumes 57 and 58. Besides a sketch of Pushkin's life and works, the article contains the earliest and best metrical translations of his several short poems. By following the meter of Pushkin's verse, the translator succeeded in closely approaching the originals.
- The Captain's Daughter; or The Generosity of the Russian usurper Pugatscheff. From the Russian of A. Pushkin. . . by G. C. Hebbe. New York: C. Müller, 1846.
This is the first American book devoted to Pushkin, and, being also the first English translation of one of his major prose works, the historical novel "Kapitanskaia Dochka," it preceded the first German version of the novel by two years and the first French version - by seven years.
Although the Division of Slavic Literature intended to keep the Exhibition of Pushkiniana open for a few weeks only, at the present writing (August, 1937) it still lasts and will probably last a few months more because of the evident interest of the general public to it.
Development of the Division's collections
During the fiscal year 1936-37 the collections of the Division were increased through exchange, purchase, transfers, and gifts by 1,953 books, 2,636 issues of periodicals, and 534 pamphlets, a total of 5,123 pieces of printed Slavic material. The greater part of these accessions are new Russian publications received from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics through the International Exchange. With 149,500 pieces collected prior to July 1, 1936, the Division, therefore, had 154,623 pieces on June 30, 1937, in which number the technical loss through the binding (i.e. the condensation of unbound books in bound volumes) has been estimated at about 30,000 books, thus making 124,623 as the total amount of separate pieces visible on the shelves of the Division by the end of the fiscal year.
However, for estimating the development of the Division's collections from the original deposit of about 68,000 Russian publications, which were turned over to the Librarian of Congress in 1907 by Mr. G. V. Yudin, of Krasnoyarsk, Siberia (see Annual Report, 1907, page 20), the said deposit should be compared with the figure of 154,623, computed without the calculation of the binding technical loss, and then 154,623 - 68,000 or 86,623 pieces, would represent the amount of publications acquired by the Division during the 30 years of its existence as a separate unit of the Library.
With the several thousand of Slavic publications administered by the other Divisions of the Library the total extent of the Library's Slavica should be considered as one of the largest outside Russia.
At the present stage, the publications shelved in the Division of Slavic Literature are chiefly in the Russian language, but they pertain to many fields. For, the development of its collections in other Slavic languages is prevented by both the limited shelving space and the lack of appropriations for a larger and more diversified staff. The existing staff of the Division is hardly adequate even for an elementary technical handling of current acquisitions in the Russian language alone, while the growing demand for the Division's reference service requires of its force a more than superficial acquaintance with the character and contents of the incoming material.
However significant the development of the Russian collections of the Library has been during the last thirty years, it has hardly kept pace with the constant growth of American interest in Russian affairs since the year of 1905, when President Theodore Roosevelt arranged the meetings of the Russo-Japanese Peace Conference st Portsmouth, N. H., which ended the war between those powers.
The acquisition of both new and out of print Russian books, of considerable reference value, became more difficult in 1936-1937 than it had been before. For, budgetary considerations compelled Russian publishers to limit their editions to comparatively small printings, and it is hard for an American library to cope with the speedy absorption of new Russian publications by European buyers. As to the Russian books which have long been out of print, a considerable decrease of their imports into this country and the growing demand for them by the other large American libraries (as the New York Public Library and the Libraries of Columbia, Harvard, and Yale Universities) substantially reduce the supply of them to the Library of Congress.
Nevertheless, the Division succeeded in acquiring some Russian publications during the year, which deserve special mention as follows:
- Pribavleniia 1-4 k Sistematicheskomu Katalogu Russkago Otdieleniia Vilenskoi Publichnoi Biblioteki (The Supplements 1-4 to the Systematic Catalog of the Russian Section of the Public Library of the City of Wilno). Wilno, 1888-1907.
The set which lists about 19,000 Russian publications is, of course, of the high reference value, being also very appropriate for the Division of Slavic Literature because its copy of the Catalog was lacking the Supplements.
- Opisanie Rukopisnago Otdieleniia Vilenskoi Publichnoi Biblioteki (Description of the Manuscript Section of the Public Library of the City of Wilno). Issues 1-5. Wilno, 1895-1906.
The five huge quarto volumes of the set contain extensive records of many valuable historical manuscripts collected in the said library.
History and Auxiliary Sciences
- Bozhovskii, V., editor, Vystavka 1812 goda (The Exhibition in memory of the year of 1812). Moscow, 1913. Folio, with numerous mounted plates of which many are in colors.
Complete Catalog of the Exhibition, arranged in Moscow in 1912, in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Russia's successful war with Napoleon I, Emperor of the French.
- Istoriko-IUridicheskie Materialy, izvlechennye iz Aktovykh Knig gubernii Vitebskoi i Mogilevskoi, khraniashchikhsia v Tsentral'nom Arkhivie v Vitebskie. . . (Legal historical material from the official Registers of Deeds of the governments of Vitebsk and Moghilef, which are kept in the Central Archives at Vitebsk. . . ). Volumes 1-32. Vitebsk, 1871-1906.
Complete set of huge folio volumes containing primary sources, invaluable to students of the legal and economic history of the governments of Vitebsk and Moghilef.
- Kondaraki, V. KH. V pamiat' stolietiia Kryma (In memory of the 100 years of the Crimea). 10 volumes, bound in full morocco, with gilded tooling. Moscow, 1883.
Collected monographs and articles (historical, archeological, ethnographical, topographical, etc.) on the Crimea, published on the 100th anniversary of the annexation of that peninsula by Russia.
- Miechowita, M. Traktat o dvukh Sarmatiiakh (Treatise on the two Sarmatias) - "Tractatus de duabus Sarmatiis, Asiana et Europeana et de contentis in eis." Moscow, Academy of Sciences, 1936.
Introduction, translation, and commentaries by S. A. Anninskii. This edition contains the first full Russian translation and the original Latin text. The first edition of the treatise in the original appeared in Cracow, Poland, in 1517 and was soon followed by several reprints and translations into the German, Polish, and Italian; thus, the work containing one of the earliest printed descriptions of Russia gained a wide circulation in Western Europe during the 16th century. For, Russia at that period aroused considerable alarm of her western neighbors by the persistent consolidation of the political power of her Moscow Government and by her unremitting territorial expansion.
Although the author, who was a famous Professor of Medicine at, and the Rector of, the University of Cracow, had never been in Russia, he succeeded in obtaining, from various very scanty sources, and giving in his book many new, for his time, and interesting historical, geographical, topographical, and ethnographical data on that country.
- Modzalevskii, B. L., editor. Arkhiv Raevskikh (The Archives of the Raevsky family). Volumes 1-5. St. Petersburg, 1908-1915.
The publication (limited to 600 copies of each volume) contains vast private correspondence in the Russian and the French, dated from 1791 to 1876; many letters have bearing upon important events of Russian history. The texts are very carefully edited and furnished with explanatory footnotes and indices. Several beautifully executed plates (some in colors) are inserted in each volume.
- Russkaia Byl' (The true facts of Russia's past). Volumes 1-8. Moscow, 1908-1911.
A series of historical monographs, by several authors, on Russia of the 18th and 19th centuries. Each volume contains several illustrations and plates.
- Horschelt, T. (1829-1871). Études militaires faites au Caucase. Édition du Grand-Duc Georges Mikhailovitch. St. PÉtersburg, 1896.
Large folio containing 60 plates of chromolithographs and phototypes, beautifully reproducing the best drawings made in 1858-1863 in the Caucasus where the author, a German painter of battle pieces, accompanied several Russian military expeditions against the mountainers. The publication is very rare.
- Muratov, P. P. Les Icones russes. Paris, 1927.
Monograph in the French by a prominent historian of the Russian icon painting, with many reproductions (some in colors) of icons.
- Pokrovskii, N. V. Tserkovno-Arkheologicheskii Muzei St. Peterburgskoi Dukhovnoi Akademii (The Church-Archeological Museum of the St. Petersburg Theological Academy). St. Petersburg, 1909. Folio.
The author was one of the leading Russian historians of the religious art; his text, accompanied with many reproductions of the icons and pictures of crosses, sacred vessels, plates, etc., gives an extensive description of the valuable church antiquities and objects of the religious art, collected in the Museum during the 30 years (1879-1909) of its existence, prior to publication of this book.
- Russkaia Akademicheskaia Khudozhestvennaia Shkola v XVIII veke (The Russian Academic School of Fine Arts in the 18th century). Moscow-Leningrad, 1934.
De luxe folio, made of rag paper, containing six new studies, by various specialists, on the history of the Imperial Academy of Fine Arts at St. Petersburg, Russia. Numerous mounted plates adorn the text.
Besides the publications just mentioned, the following Russian monographs on the lives and works of some famous artists should be considered as the Division's noteworthy acquisitions during the year in the class of fine arts: I. E. Bondarenko's Arkhitektor. . . Kazakov, 1733-1812 (The Architect. . . Kazakov, 1733-1812), Moscow, 1912; V. Snegirev's Aristotel' Fioravanti i perestroika Moskovskago Kremlia (Aristotele Fieravanti and the reconstruction of the Moscow Kremlin), Moscow, 1935 [Ed. corrected spelling of Fieravanti's name here and below] ; A. M. Mironov's "Albrecht Dürer. . ." Moscow, 1901; V.P. Polovtsev's Fedor Antonovich Bruni, St. Petersburg, 1907; and IA. V. Apushkin's Konstantin Fedorovich Iuon, Moscow, 1936.
The monographs on Bruni and Iuon are adorned with many fine reproductions of the works of these painters. Bondarenko's book on Kazakov contains many mounted plates reproducing pictures of the buildings either constructed, or designed by that celebrated Russian architect. The books on Albrecht Dürer and Aristotele Fieravanti are profusely illustrated.
The two books of collected essays and articles, each with many mounted plates, namely, Pamiati proshlago (To the memory of the Past), St. Petersburg, 1914, by V. A. Vereshchagin, and Vienok mertvym (The Wreath to the Dead), St. Petersburg, 1913, by Baron N. N. Wrangel, - also are noteworthy new acquisitions of the Division in the field of the history of Russian fine arts.
History of Literature, Belles-Lettres, and History of Theatre
In this field the special attention was given by the Division to securing the most important recent Russian publications on A. S. Pushkin as well as the best new editions of his works. As a result, several new items have been added to the Division's Pushkiniana, and for many more the Library's orders are pending.
Among the new acquisitions in this group the following books are representative of the recent serious and extensive studies on the great Russian poet, undertaken in connection with the centenary of his death:
- Pushkin v mirovoi literature (Pushkin in World Literature). Institute of Comparative Literature and Philology. . . at the Leningrad University, Leningrad, 1926.
This is a symposium on Pushkin's place in World Literature.
- Literaturnoe Nasledstvo (The Literary Inheritance). Issues 16-18, in one volume, Moscow, 1934.
This volume, of one of the outstanding current Russian serials on the history of World Literature (published since 1931), is entirely devoted to Pushkin and contains new studies on him.
- Letopisi Gosudarstvennogo Literaturnogo Muzeia. Tom I. Pushkin (Annals of the State Literary Museum. Volume 1st: Pushkin). Moscow, 1936.
This volume, edited by M. Tsiavlovskii, contains archive material on Pushkin and his wife's family, the Goncharovs.
- Pushkin. Vremennik Pushkinskoi Komissii. Tom I (Pushkin. Annals of the Pushkin Commission. Volume I). Institute of Literature, Academy of Sciences, U. S. S. R. Moscow-Leningrad, 1936.
- Rukoiu Pushkina (By the hand of Pushkin). Moscow, 1935. About 500 various texts (notes, outlines, sketches, etc.) by Pushkin, with several facsimiles, are collected and published in this volume for the first time.
- Vinogradov, V. V.
IAzyk Pushkina (The Language of Pushkin). Moscow, 1935.
Pushkin's place in the history of the Russian literary language.
Of the new acquisitions of the Division in the class of Russian Literature and Theatre, which do not belong to Pushkiniana, the following publications are probably the most significant:
- Bunin, I. A. Sobranie sochinenii (Collected Works). Volumes 1-11.
This is the first revised edition after the winning by the author of the Nobel prize for literature in 1933. The publication of volume 12th, which is supposed to be the last in this edition, is pending.
- Chulkov, M. D. (1741-1792). Sochineniia. Tom I. Sobranie raznykh piesen (Works. Volume I. Collection of various lyrics). St. Petersburg, Imperial Academy of Sciences, 1913.
A new, revised edition of the lyrics which had been very popular in Russia since the first publication of them in 1770-1774. Several portraits of the author and facsimiles of many pages of the first edition of the lyrics are inserted in this volume.
- Vsevolodskii, V. Teatr v Rossii v epokhu Otechestvennoi Voiny (The Theatre in Russia in the epoch of the War for the Fatherland). St. Petersburg, 1912.
Although the author, who was a prominent historian of the Russian theatre, modestly regards this work, in its preface, as ". . . a series of sketches devoted to various sides of the life of the theatre during the period of 1807-1814. . ," it should be acknowledged as a scholarly monograph for its many references to the important primary sources. The book is illustrated with 33 plates, reproducing rare portraits of the famous actors and actresses of that time.
The statistical summary of the routine work done by the Division during the year is as follows:
There were 2,713 readers and visitors in the Division, including those who were accommodated on Saturday afternoons, Sundays, and holidays, and the Division rendered its reference service orally to about 500 of them.
Moreover, about 1,000 written inquires, many of them calling for considerable bibliographical research, answered by official correspondence, which was, even technically, no mean task for the Division, because it has no expert typist on its staff.
As usual, there was considerable variety of the subjects which had attention of the Division in its reference service, and in many cases the inquirers expected of the Division that its research on their particular topics should be extended beyond the Slavic sources and even beyond the Library's holdings.
A few topics illustrative of the scope of the Division's reference service rendered during the year are as follows: Railway transportation in Russia since 1917; Russian literature on the philosophy of law; origin of some Alaskan geographic names; the main sources of Russia's history of the 19th century; the state and public protection of children and mothers in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; recent trends of agricultural development in that country and Far Eastern countries; Pushkin's life and works.
The Division lent 1,309 books out of the Library's premises during the year, either through the inter-library loan service, or on personal, duly authorized, borrowing privileges, and kept its own file of records for all the loans.
Although the reference service, with the functions of a reading room and circulating library, took a greater part of the Division's official working time than its technical work, the latter, however simplified, was by no means neglected. For, 1,202 new author entries were written in longhand during the year, about 1,700 titles were classified, over 4,400 books were plated, labeled, and marked with call numbers, 5,574 pieces of printed material, condensed into 1,392 volumes, were prepared for binding, and about 21,500 pieces (including over 5,000 pieces, newly acquired) were arranged on the shelves. In selecting new acquisitions, the Division checked over 2,000 items named in various bibliographies, booksellers' catalogs, price lists, lists of the books offered for exchange, etc.
The Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon and evening services were maintained to accommodate those readers who are unable to visit the Division during the regular hours.