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Indiana University Bloomington

The Collections: Guide to the Collections: Slavic and Central Eurasian

Lilly Library collections related to Central Europe and Eurasia include eighteenth- and nineteenth-century descriptions of the region; modern travel accounts; an extensive collection of twentieth-century Czech literature; major books on the history of Russia, the Caucasus region, Georgia, and Turkey; important manuscripts of Alice Garrigue Masaryk and Aleksandr Amfiteatrov; and a complete collection of books produced by Ibrahim Mteferrika, Turkey's first printer.

Czech literature (20th century)

The Lilly Library holds one of the largest, if not the largest, collections of twentieth-century Czech literature in North America. Among the authors represented are Petr Bezruč, Josef Čapek, Vclav Havel, Bohumil Hrabal, Karel Mcha, Jaroslav Seifert, and Vladimir Vasek.

Masaryk collection

The Masaryk collection includes the correspondence and papers of Alice Garrigue Masaryk (1879-1966), daughter of Toms Garrigue Masaryk, president of the Czechoslovak Republic from 1918 to 1935, and contains approximately forty-two hundred manuscripts and fifty printed pieces concerning the Masaryk family. It covers the period from 1898 to 1966 and includes correspondence between Alice Masaryk and her mother during Alice's imprisonment in 1915-16 and numerous other items, including radio scripts, photographs, and tape recordings. In addition, the correspondence and other materials gathered by Ruth Crawford Mitchell while compiling her biography, Alice Garrigue Masaryk, 1879-1966 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1980) is in the Library.

Russian history (late 17th through mid-19th centuries)

In the mid-1970's the library acquired the collection of materials related to Russia and the Near East formed by the British businessman and scholar W. E. D. Allen (1901-1973), the author of numerous works on the history of the Caucasus region, Georgia, and Turkey. The Allen collection contains a number of books held by very few other American libraries, making the Lilly an important resource for Georgian and Caucasian studies. The library holds three separate versions of the important Russian Atlas of 1745, considered to be the high point of Russian cartography in the first half of the eighteenth century.

Historical sources in the collection include the Biblioteka rossijskaja istoricheskaja (St. Petersburg, 1767; Lilly Library DK70 .B58), which contains the first published edition of the Radziwill or Knigsberg manuscript of the Russian Primary Chronicle, and the Drevnjaja rossijskaja vivliofika [The Library of Ancient Russia) (Moscow , 1788-1791; Lilly Library DK3 .D775 1788), an extensive collection of documents concerning early Russian history and culture. The collection also contains a number of travel narratives, chronicles, and works on linguistics, mainly concerning the Georgian language. One of the most striking of the Georgian pieces is a manuscript of the first dictionary of the Georgian language (Allen mss. 22), compiled by Prince Orbeliani (1658-1725). Written by a cousin of the Prince, this early eighteenth-century manuscript contains a beautiful color illustration of each of the thirty-seven letters in the Georgian alphabet made up of human and animal forms. This dictionary was not published until 1884.

Amfiteatrov collection

The papers of writer Aleksandr Amfiteatrov (1862- 1938) include his surviving manuscripts and some six thousand letters. Amfiteatrov was exiled to Siberia in 1902 for publishing "Gospoda Obmanovy," a satirical sketch featuring the Russian Imperial Family, and soon after returning was obliged by the events of the suppressed insurrection of 1905 to immigrate to Western Europe. He returned to Russia at the time of the First World War, only to leave again in the wake of the October Revolution. He settled in the Italian seacoast town of Lvanto, where his home offered hospitality and temporary asylum to a number of Russian writers, poets, musicians, and intellectuals. The collection includes letters from such writers as Ivan Bunin, Valery Bryusov, Sholem Aleichem, and Aleksandr Kuprin; poets Konstantin Balmont, Dmitry Merezhkovsky, and Vyacheslav Ivanov; theatrical celebrities, including Moscow Art Theatre director Konstantin Stanislavski and the celebrated basso Feodor Chaliapin; prominent political and social activists including Vladimir Burtsev, Petr Krasnov, and several members of the Suvorin publishing family.

Turkish printing by Ibrahim Mteferrika

Allen's interest in Turkish studies accounts for the presence in the collection of all seventeen books produced by Ibrahim Mteferrika, the first printer in Turkey, who operated his press in Istanbul between 1729 and 1742.

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Last updated: 14 July 2017

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