Polish Christmas Carols

Pastorałki by Tytus Czyżewski and Tadeusz Makowski

The images below depict Christmas celebrations by Gorals, the indigenous highlanders from the Carpathian Mountains in southern Poland. Dressed in traditional leather shoes with lacing, tight trousers with ornamented belts, and mountaineer hats with feathers, they gather joyfully to dance and sing.

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This charming livre d’artiste is comprised of six Christmas poems (pastorałki) written by Polish Futurist poet Tytus Czyżewski (1880-1945) between 1919 and 1922. Tadeusz Makowski (1882-1932), a leading Polish artist of his time, designed the cover and produced six full-page woodcuts to accompany each poem. Both artists were living in Paris when this book was commissioned and published in 1925 as an inaugural edition by the Polskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Książki (Polish Society of Book Lovers). Czyżewski’s expressive verse and Makowski’s “primitive” woodcuts capture whimsical images from folk tradition and rituals of their native land. Rustic and textured hand-made paper with rough and even edges on which the book was printed also conveys a sense of folksiness.

The present copy is a special issue printed for Staniława Piotra, who was the first president of the Polskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Książki. It was acquired by the library in 2013.

 

This is the last post for 2015. Happy holidays to you and yours from Notre Dame’s Rare Books and Special Collections!

 


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Who’s Who in RBSC: Natasha Lyandres

nlyandresLetters written by and to Lady Byron—these are among the many rich surprises Natasha Lyandres has found in Rare Books and Special Collections (RBSC) since she joined the department in Fall 2013 as Head of Special Collections.

Before joining RBSC, Natasha studied Art History at Moscow State University and then earned a Master of Library and Information Science degree from San Jose State University. She has held positions as Special Projects Librarian for the Hoover Institution Library and Archives at Stanford University, Reference Librarian for the Joyner Library at East Carolina University, and Head of Acquisition Resources and Discovery Services at Notre Dame.

The main focus for her, according to Natasha, is working with her staff to make RBSC collections more visible and accessible to students, faculty, and researchers. This involves processing collections and making them discoverable in the library’s online catalog and on the department’s website. She and her staff also make the intellectual content of their collections understandable to specialists and non-specialists alike by providing descriptions on the RBSC website, talking to individuals, teaching classes in RBSC, and co-teaching courses with campus faculty.

Natasha is also curator of Russian and Eastern European collections. She continually searches for rare and unique materials that support the existing collection strengths and the research interests of Notre Dame teaching faculty. Among her recent acquisitions are avant-garde Russian and Polish rare books, materials by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and Joseph Brodsky, both recipients of the Nobel Prize for Literature, as well as documents about extraordinary lives of their interesting but less well-known contemporaries. Currently, she is working with the department’s manuscript processor, Ken Kinslow, to finalize the processing of and finding aid for the Elizabeth Markstein papers she acquired.

When asked if there is an item she dreams about acquiring for RBSC, Natasha replied without hesitating, “Kazimir Malevich’s On New Systems in Art: Statics and Speed—this is a phenomenal work by one of the most important artists of the twentieth century!” Natasha’s interests extend beyond art and manuscripts. She is currently immersed in The Millionaire and the Bard: Henry Folger’s Obsessive Hunt for Shakespeare’s First Folio by Andrea Mays. This page-turning read is setting the stage for the upcoming exhibit RBSC is hosting, First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare, January 6-30, 2016. Notre Dame is the sole Indiana site to host the Folger Shakespeare Library’s national traveling exhibition of Shakespeare’s First Folio.

Natasha’s parting words returned us to the department and its staff. Admitting that she really enjoys working with the breadth of RBSC’s collections, she said in no uncertain terms that the highlight for her is “working with the people first and foremost because of the knowledge they possess about so many different things and because they are all so enthusiastic about what they do.”

 


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Spotlight Exhibit: The Evgeniia Ginzburg and Antonina Axenova Collection

November 2015

This month’s spotlight exhibit features materials from the recently acquired archive of Evgeniia Ginzburg, the most famous woman prisoner of Stalin’s GULAG, and Antonina Axenova (Ginzburg’s adopted daughter).

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Evgeniia Ginzburg in her Moscow apartment, 1968.

Evgeniia Solomonovna Ginzburg (1904-1977) was a journalist and teacher who wrote an acclaimed autobiographical account of her 18-year journey through the Stalin GULAG. Ginzbrug’s epic story, which has been translated into many languages, was published in English in two volumes: Journey into the Whirlwind (1967) and Within the Whirlwind (1981). To this day her work remains one of the most significant and widely-read women’s memoirs about life and death in the Stalin camps.

Born in the Kolyma camps in 1946, Antonina Pavlovna Axenova was adopted by Ginzburg in 1949. Axenova later became a theater and movie actress. She has also worked tirelessly collecting materials to preserve the memory and legacy of her mother.

The exhibit is timed to coincide with a visit to Notre Dame by Antonina Axenova and the filmmaker, Mario Damolin, who premiered his new documentary film about Evgeniia Ginzburg entitled Tightrope Walk on November 5 at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.

More than 7 boxes constitute the archive which consists of documents, letters, photographs, and some manuscripts relating to Ginzburg’s arrest and her life in the camps as well as materials about Axenova’s professional life. The finding aid is near completion and will be accessible to researchers in the near future.

The exhibit is curated by Ken Kinslow, Manuscripts Processing Librarian, and is open to the public 9:00am to 5:00pm, Monday through Friday, through December 11, 2015.