Mongolian Cyrillic

The Languages of Berkeley: An Online Exhibition

Mongolian Cyrillic
From first page of Isaak J. Schmidt’s polyglot dictionary in Mongolian, German and Russian

The expansion of the Russian Empire’s frontiers toward Manchu China meant interactions with several different Mongolic language groups that inhabit Siberia and the Far East, including Buryat and Oirat variants. The official Khalka dialect is prominent in the Republic of Mongolia. The 19th-century digitized book presented here is one of the earliest dictionaries of Mongolian language that was published by the Imperial Academy of Sciences in Saint Petersburg. We are highlighting this specific dictionary in consultation with the faculty members that teach and conduct their research in Mongolian. The scripts of Mongolian language has evolved over the long history of the Mongols. Due to the Sovietization of Outer Mongolia, the alphabet was changed to Cyrillic characters while the Inner Mongolia of the People’s Republic of China continued to use a variant of the traditional Mongol script.

As a librarian for East European and Central Asian Studies, I focused initially on collecting materials related to Buryat Mongols of Siberia. With a generous gift from the government of Mongolia, UC Berkeley and the Institute of East Asian Studies were delighted to announce the establishment of the Mongolia Initiative. This initiative led to the beginning of the teaching of Mongolian on campus for the first time in many years. Thus, the need for the collections of materials in Mongolian from the Republic of Mongolia became an ever-pressing reality. Since 2015, UC Berkeley has also received funding from the U.S. Department of Education to begin teaching elementary Mongolian. This National Resource Center grant recognizes UC Berkeley as a national leader for teaching and research on East Asia, including Mongolia.[1] It funds the education of lesser-taught world languages, in particular Mongolian, which is one of the critical languages for the national security of the United States government.[2]

Several faculty members on the campus focus their research on Mongolia. Among them is Professor Emerita Patricia Berger, an art historian, and Professor Jacob Dalton, who is a world known specialist on Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism’s history and practice are syncretic to both past and present practice to the Buddhism of Mongolia. Brian Baumann is a lecturer of Mongolian language in East Asian Languages and Cultures and is instrumental in teaching language courses. Professor Sanjyot Mehendale, who teaches courses on Central Asia and the Silk Roads in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, is an archaeologist specializing in Eurasian trade and cultural exchange of the early Common Era. She has worked on several archaeology sites and projects in Central Asia, including Samarkand and Afghanistan.

The Mongolia collection has been developed to reconnect students with the history of Mongolia and the surrounding region. Besides students, the collection development revolves around the needs of faculty members and other scholars at UC Berkeley. Mongolia’s ethnic composition represents a unique tapestry of the Central Asian nationalities living within the geographic boundaries of the region along with the Mongols. The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures offers courses related to Mongolia which vary from elementary Mongolian to Mongolian Buddhist Ritual (Buddhist Studies 190).[3] While the collection of Mongolian language books from the Republic of Mongolia printed in Cyrillic is approximately 1800 titles, Doe Library acquired nearly 800 new titles from 2009 through 2019. Besides, Mongolian language materials, we also have an extensive collection of books in Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Tajik, Turkmen and Uzbek languages.

Contribution by Liladhar Pendse
Librarian for the Mongolian Collections, Doe Library

Sources consulted:

  1. About the Mongolia Initiative, UC Berkeley (accessed 6/24/19)
  2. Languages of Interest, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (accessed 6/24/19)
  3. Mongolian (MONGLN) Berkeley Academic Guide – UCB (accessed 6/24/19)

~~~~~~~~~~
Title:
Mongolisch-deutsch-russisches Wörterbuch : Nebst Einem Deutschen Und Einem Russischen Wortregister =: Mongolʹsko-ni︠e︡met︠s︡ko-rossīĭskīĭ Slovar : S Prisovokuplenīem Ni︠e︡met︠s︡kago I Russkago Alfavitnykh Spiskov.
Title in English: Mongolian-German-Russian Dictionary: In addition to a German and a Russian word index.
Author: Schmidt, Isaak Jakob, 1779-1847.
Imprint: Sanktpeterburg: Kaiserliche Akademie der Wissenschaften, 1835.
Edition:  1st.
Language: Mongolian
Language Family:  Mongolic
Source: The HathiTrust Digital Library (UCLA)
URL: https://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc1.d0006851489

Other online editions:

Print editions at Berkeley:

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Mongolian

Mongolian
Cover of 1907 edition in Chinese and Mongolian script

The Thousand Character Classic (Chinese: 千字文), also known as the Thousand Character Text, is one of the earliest and most widespread basic literacy texts for the study of classical Chinese. The rhyming text was composed by learned and talented scholar Zhou Xingsi of the Southern Liang dynasty (502-557) and has been used ever since as a primer for teaching Chinese characters to children. It contains exactly one thousand non-redundant characters arranged into 250 four-character couplets. Not only is the form succinct and poetic, but the text also imparts traditional Chinese knowledge and wisdom. It was widely circulated in ancient Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. It has also been translated into several western languages, including English, Latin, German, Italian, and French. The New Mongolian Translation of the Thousand Character Classic contains Mongolian and Chinese text, as well as Manchu phonetic transcription. It is valuable for the study of Mongolian and Manchu phonology. The C.V. Starr East Asian Library owns a facsimile of the 1907 stone print edition. The original edition is held by the Harvard-Yenching Library and was recently digitized.

The  course description for Mongolian 1A follows: “Mongolian is the language of a people who politically have emerged on the world stage after verily hundreds of years of imposed isolation, who geographically live on the vast open steppe that ranges from the Gobi to Siberia, who economically juggle an ancient tradition of pastoral nomadism with the development of national and private industry, who culturally know an eclectic, vibrant cosmopolitanism belied by their rugged open spaces, and who long ago established the largest contiguous empire the world has ever known.”[1] UC Berkeley has a long tradition of Mongolian Studies reaching back to the early 20th century. In 1935, Ferdinand Lessing, a German scholar of Central Asia, was named the fourth Agassiz Professor of East Asian Studies and established this country’s first course in the Mongolian language, as well as courses on Mongolia’s Buddhist tradition. He also published the first scholarly Mongolian-English dictionary in 1960.[2] Mongolian studies continued to advance under the direction of Professor James Bosson, who taught at Berkeley from 1964 through 1996. He was also a renowned scholar for the Manchu and Tibetan languages. Students at Berkeley begin with Khalkha Mongolian, the standard language of Mongolia, in its context as a dialect of Mongolian language proper using Cyrillic script and introducing traditional script. They then advance to Literary Mongolian, its phonetics, grammar, vertical writing system and its relation to living spoken language.

With a generous gift from the government of Mongolia, UC Berkeley and the Institute of East Asian Studies launched the Mongolia Initiative in 2016. Mongolian is now being taught on campus for the first time in many years by Professor Brian Baumann who concentrates on Mongolian texts on Buddhism, history and culture. Funding from the U.S. Department of Education has also supported the language program and other research activities on Mongoliat as well as for enrichment of the Mongolian collection in the Library.

Contribution by Jianye He
Librarian for the Chinese Collections, C.V. Starr East Asian Library

Sources consulted

  1. Buddhist Studies Courses, UC Berkeley
  2. History of Mongolian Studies at UC Berkeley

~~~~~~~~~~
Title:
新譯蒙漢千字文 = Sin-e orčiγuluγsan mongγol irgen mingγan üsüg bui
Title in English: The New Mongolian Translation of the Thousand Character Classic
Author: Zhou, Xingsi, d. 521.
Imprint: Beijing : Zhen bei shi yin guan, Guangxu ding wei, 1907.
Edition:  n/a
Language: Mongolian
Language Family:  Mongolic
Source: Harvard College Library Harvard-Yenching Library
URL: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:10443432

Print editions at Berkeley:

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Czech

The Languages of Berkeley: An Online Exhibition

R.U.R. : Rossum's Universal Robots
Karel Čapek (9 January 1890 – 25 December 1938) was a Czech writer of the early 20th century. He had multiple roles throughout his career, including playwright, dramatist, essayist, publisher, literary reviewer, photographer and art critic. Nonetheless, he is best known for his science fiction including his novel War with the Newts and the play R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots), which introduced the word “robot” for the first time in the English language.[1] He also wrote many politically charged works dealing with the social turmoil of his time. Largely influenced by American pragmatic liberalism, he campaigned in favor of free expression and utterly despised the rise of both fascism and communism in Europe.

A funny and surreal story of servitude and technology, R.U.R. was Čapek’s first major work for the stage. The play is a gloriously dystopic science-fiction fantasy about robots and the brave new world of the men who mass-produce them. Robots multiply, are bought and sold and gradually take over every aspect of human existence. As people grow idle and stop procreating, the robots rebel and destroy almost the entire human race. The play was first performed in Prague in 1921.

UC Berkeley professor Ellen Langer describes the novel and the title as follows, “The word robot was derived from the Czech robota, which means “forced labor” like the French word corvée. The play was an instant hit in Europe and was acclaimed in the United States, perhaps because it captured the terror of those times. World War I had barely ended when the Bolshevik Revolution made Europeans fear an uprising by factory workers. To Čapek, an impassioned democrat, the dictatorship of the proletariat seemed as abhorrent as the recently overthrown Austro-Hungarian autocracy. R.U.R. expressed an idealistic yearning that mass production would free people from want, but realism cautioned that industrialization could also usher in an even more powerful tyranny.

The play seems preachy by current standards, but, as Langer says, “this was an era of polemical plays.” It caused such an intellectual stir in London that Čapek sought to explain its message in an essay published in 1923: “We are in the grip of industrialism; this terrible machinery must not stop, for if it does it would destroy the lives of thousands. It must, on the contrary, go on faster and faster, even though in the process it destroys thousands and thousands of other lives . . .  A product of the human brain has at last escaped from the control of human hands. This is the comedy of science.” Thus was born a term that promised either service or subjugation, and, over time, robots migrated from fictional characters to functional creations.[2]

The history of teaching Czech at UC Berkeley is closely tied to the history of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures. Currently, each year, Dr. Langer offers courses in Basic and Continuing Czech. Besides, the language teaching Professor John Connelly of the Department of History specializes in the Modern East and Central European Political and Social History and History of Catholicism. His groundbreaking research on the history of education came to fruition in his critically acclaimed book Captive University: The Sovietization of East German, Czech, and Polish Higher Education, 1945-1956.

Contribution by Liladhar Pendse
Librarian for East European and Central Asian Studies, Doe Library

Sources consulted:

  1. Čapek, Karel, Peter Majer, and Cathy Porter. R.U.R. [London] : Bloomsbury, [2015], 2015. .
  2. Abate, Tom. “The Robots Among Us.”  SFGate, 9 Dec. 2007.

~~~~~~~~~~
Title:
R.U.R (Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti)
Title in English: R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots)
Author: Čapek, Karel, 1890-1938.
Imprint: V Praze: Vydalo Aventinum, 1920.
Edition: unknown
Language: Czech
Language Family: Indo-European, Slavic
Source: The Internet Archive (University of Toronto)
URL: https://archive.org/stream/rurrossumsuniver00apekuoft#page/n0/mode/2up

Other digital editions:

Print editions at Berkeley:

  • There many original Czech editions and English translations in OskiCat.

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Korean

The Languages of Berkeley: An Online Exhibition

 First volume of  Lady Heygyŏng’s Handyung mannok (Asami Collection, UC Berkeley Library)

This manuscript consists of four autobiographical narratives written by Lady Hyegyŏnggung Hong Ssi, an 18th-century Korean noblewoman. Considered both a literary masterpiece and an invaluable historical document, the memoirs were translated into English by JaHyun Kim Haboush with the title The Memoirs of Lady Heygyŏng (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996).

A story is told through personal anecdotes, written between 1795 and 1805, of Lady Heygyŏng’s life in the palace and about tragic happenings to members of her family. She was married to the crown prince of King Yŏngjo (1694-1776; reigned in 1744-1776). In the summer of 1762, her husband and apparent heir to the throne was falsely accused of plotting against Lady Heygyŏng’s father, and was placed in a sealed rice chest in which he suffocated. Soon after this tragedy, King Yŏngjo regretted his harshness and gave his daughter Hong Ssi the title of Royal Consort Hyegyŏnggung.

Historical and modern linguists classify Korean as a language isolate with linguistic roots in Manchuria. Prior to 1433/34 when King Sejon of the Chŏsun Dynasty invented the remarkable alphabet known to southerners as hangŭl and to northerners as chŏsongŭl, all writing in Korea was done in the Chinese script.[1] In the 17th century, it evolved into modern Korean, with considerable phonological differences from Middle Korean.[2] Rather than being composed in literary Chinese as were most writings by men before the modern era, Lady Heygyŏng’s memoirs were composed in Korean, in han’gŭl script, making them accessible to the modern reader.

As the official language of both South and North Korea, Korean is the native language of more than 77 million people worldwide.[3] The Library’s Korean holdings exceed 102,000 volumes. Outstanding among these are the 4,000+ volumes of the Asami library, assembled by Asami Rintarō in the early decades of the 20th century and purchased by the Library thirty years later.[4] In 1942, UC Berkeley became the first university in the country to offer instruction in Korean, which continues to be taught for all academic levels in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures.

Contribution by Jaeyong Chang
Librarian for the Korean Collections, C.V. Starr East Asian Library

Sources consulted:

  1. Garry, Jane, and Carl R. G. Rubino. Facts About the World’s Languages: An Encyclopedia of the World’s Major Languages, Past and Present. New York: H.W. Wilson, 2001.
  2. Dalby, Andrew. Dictionary of Languages: The Definitive Reference to More Than 400 Languages. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.
  3. Ethnologue, https://www.ethnologue.com/language/kor
  4. UC Berkeley Center for Korean Studies

~~~~~~~~~~
Title:
한중만록 (Handyung mannok)  
Title in English: Memoirs Written in Silence
Author: Hyegyŏnggung Hong Ssi (1735-1815)
Imprint:  Korea : [s.n., 18–?]
Edition: 1st
Language: Korean
Language Family: Koreanic
Source: The Internet Archive (UC Berkeley)
URL: https://archive.org/details/handyungmannokkw01asam

Print editions at Berkeley:

Handyung Mannok: Kwŏn 1-6. Korea: publisher not identified, 1800. East Asian Rare ASAMI 22.29 1-6

The Memoirs of Lady Hyegyŏng: The Autobiographical Writings of a Crown Princess of Eighteenth-Century Korea. Translated into English by JaHyun K. Haboush. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996. Also available as an ebook.

 

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Icelandic

The Languages of Berkeley: An Online Exhibition

Icelandic literature after the Reformation was primarily the domain of poetry until the mid-19th century. Following a small number of unpublished collections of short stories and folk tales and several published prose translations into Icelandic in the 18th century, currents of European influence encouraged the sustained development of literary prose, at first short stories, which in some cases also drew upon local saga and folkloric traditions. Credit for the first Icelandic novel is generally given to Jón Thóroddsen (1818-1868) for his 1850 work Piltur og Stúlka (Lad and Lass). As scholar and statesman Jón Sigurðsson would write in his introduction to a posthumous edition (1876) of Thóroddsen’s second, unfinished novel Maður og Kona (Man and Woman), “Various attempts have been made in our country before this to compose works of fiction similar to those which had appeared in foreign lands in modern times, which are called in English ‘novels,’ because they draw their material from modern everyday life, and not from ancient events or historical writings, as do the knightly romances; but this story of Thóroddsen’s [Piltur og Stúlka] is the most important of all these tales, and is hence universally conceded to be the first Icelandic novel [translation from Reeves’ 1890 edition of Lad and Lass].”

Born in western Iceland, Thóroddsen traveled to Copenhagen to study law, where he also pursued literary interests as co-creator and editor of a liberal arts annual to which he contributed his own poetry and several short texts (in addition to briefly joining the Danish army in its fight against rebellious Germans). During the winter of 1848-9 he wrote Piltur og Stúlka, which was published in Copenhagen in 1850 (a second edition was published in Reykjavik in 1867). Although indebted to the English romantic love story, this tale of the complicated love between Indriði and Sigríður, which begins and ends in the countryside and includes a journey to Reykjavik at its middle, is highly localized in its descriptions of contemporary Icelandic society. Thóroddsen was a keen observer of character, and his readers were especially drawn to the comic traits with which he endowed some of them.  Other aspects of description as well as narrative reveal the influence of the Icelandic sagas. In 1850 Thóroddsen returned to Iceland, where he worked as a bailiff, and nearly completed his second novel before his death in 1868. Piltur og Stúlka has been published in a number of subsequent editions, translated into four languages, and was adapted for the stage in Iceland in 1933. The UC Berkeley Library owns the 1973 reprint of the 1948 edition, which was published in Reykjavik.

The Modern Icelandic language has been taught at the introductory level in UC Berkeley’s Scandinavian Department since 2015, when a pilot program was launched with the assistance of the Institute of European Studies.

Contribution by Jeremy Ott
Classics and Germanic Studies Librarian, Doe Library

 

Title: Piltur og Stúlka : Dálítil Frásaga
Title in English: Lad and Lass
Author: Jón Thóroddsen, 1818-1868.
Imprint: Kaupmannahöfn : S.L. Möller, 1850.
Edition: 1st
Language: Icelandic
Language Family: Indo-European, Germanic
Source: The Internet Archive (National and University Library of Iceland)
URL: https://archive.org/details/Pilturogstulkada000209560v0JonReyk/page/n6

Other digital editions:

Print editions at Berkeley:

Piltur og stúlka: dálítil frásaga. Reykjavík: Helgafell, 1973. Reprint of the 1948 edition.

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Tibetan

The Languages of Berkeley: An Online Exhibition

Rgyal rabs gsal ba’i me long is a famous historical work by Sakyapa Sonam Gyaltsen (1312-1375). The text presents Tibetan history such as the origins of the Tibetans, how dharma arrived in Tibet, when Lhasa became the main capital and the Jokhang and Ramoche temples were built. Sakyapa Sonam Gyaltsen was a ruler of Sakya which had a preeminent position in Tibet under the Yuan dynasty. He is considered the greatest Sakya scholar of the 14th century and served as ruler for a short term from 1344 to 1347.

According to McComas Taylor who authored the English translation, “It ranks among the great works of early Tibetan historiographical writing, but outshines all others in both the depth and breadth of its coverage. . . The text is a rich blend of history, legend, poetry, adventure and romance. It may properly be regarded as a literary work, albeit a morally and spiritually uplifting one.”  He writes further: “This text has been known by several names. The original Tibetan title, and the one that is most widely recognized, is Clear Mirror on Royal Genealogy, although in the final paragraph the author himself calls the work Clear Mirror on the History of the Dharma. The first wood-block edition was printed at the Tsuglagkhang in 1478 and is therefore known as the Lhasa redaction.”

Ever since China annexed Tibet as a province in 1951, the Tibetan language has been proscribed in schools in favor of Mandarin.[1] Tibetan Buddhism and its literature are thus at present maintained by a worldwide diaspora, drawing some strength from Tibetan communities of the southern Himalaya beyond the Chinese border.[2] There are numerous (and mutually unintelligible dialects) of modern spoken Tibetan, and the study of these dialects — essential for the study of cultural practices such as pilgrimage — is becoming an area of research at several institutions, including UC Berkeley.[3] This historical text has been translated into Mongolian, German, and Chinese, and various sections have appeared in Italian and Russian.

Contribution by Susan Xue
Head, Information and Public Services &
Electronic Resources Librarian, C.V. Starr East Asian Library

Sources consulted:

  1. Garry, Jane, and Carl R. G. Rubino. Facts About the World’s Languages: An Encyclopedia of the World’s Major Languages, Past and Present. New York: H.W. Wilson, 2001.
  2. May, Stephen. Language and Minority Rights: Ethnicity, Nationalism and the Politics of Language. New York: Routledge, 2012.
  3. Institute for South Asia Studies, UC Berkeley

~~~~~~~~~~
Title:
Rgyal rabs gsal ba’i me long
Title in English: Clear Mirror on Royal Genealogy
Author: Bsod-nams-rgyal-mtshan, Sakyapa Sonan Gyaltsen, 1312-1375.
Imprint: Pe cin: mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2002.
Edition: Par gzhi 1
Language: Tibetan
Language Family: Sino-Tibetan
Source: Buddhist Digital Resource Center
URL: https://www.tbrc.org/#!rid=W00KG09730

Print editions at Berkeley:

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More French ebooks through OpenEdition

The Library has recently added 731 titles mostly in French but also Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and English to its ebook holdings through OpenEdition — an interdisciplinary open access initiative in France. Now, more than 4,700 academic ebooks in the humanities and social sciences are discoverable through the portal or through the Library’s catalogs permitting researchers to benefit from a range of DRM-free formats, some optimized specifically for e-readers, tablets, and smart phones (ePub, PDF, etc.). OpenEdition’s Freemium program makes it possible for UC Berkeley to participate in an acquisitions policy that supports openness and sustainable development of scholarly resources such as these.

Visit OpenEdition to read even more open access ebooks.


Catalan

The Languages of Berkeley: An Online Exhibition

“I don’t want you to confine my thinking to facts and agreed formulas; I do want, like birds, the liberated wings to fly at any time, now to the right, now to the left, through the space full of infinite and invisible routes; I do not want extraneous nuisances, harmful limits that impose me a path beforehand. I want to be entirely master of myself and not a slave of alien forces, insofar as human, are miserable and failing.” – Víctor Català (Caterina Albert), Insubmissió (1947)

(Trans. A. B. Redondo-Campillos)

Víctor Català was a Catalan modernist literature novelist, storyteller, playwright, and poet. But Víctor Català was also Caterina Albert i Paradís (L’Escala, Girona, 1869–1966), an extraordinary talented woman writer forced to write under a male pen name. Caterina Albert decided to make herself known as Víctor Català after the publication of the monologue La infanticida (The Infanticide), for which Albert not only received the first prize in the 1898 Jocs Florals literary contest, but also an enormous backlash after the jury knew that the author was a woman. Amid the Catalan intellectual and bourgeois society of the late 19th century, Caterina Albert questions maternity as the main purpose of womanhood in the most dramatic and violent way. Víctor Català/Caterina Albert was probably the first unconscious feminist of Catalan literature.

In her magnum opus, Solitut (1905) or Solitud, first a serialized novel in the literary magazine Joventut and published later as a book, the writer follows the spiritual and life journey of Mila, a woman that moves to a remote rural environment, with a practically absent husband. In an extremely rough landscape — where the mountain becomes another character in the novel and part of Mila herself — she encounters her own sensuality, the guilt provoked by her sexual desire towards a shepherd, the unspeakable brutality of the few people living around her, and the absolute solitude. Far from being weakened because of all of these factors, Mila finds the necessary strength to get by and, finally, makes a life-changing decision.

It is 1905 and Caterina Albert depicts through Mila in Solitud the overly harsh women’s situation in a male rural society. Its novelty lies in that the writer provides the main character with the determination to overcome her disgrace. Mila transgresses the patriarchy system and takes control of her own life, and Caterina Albert transgresses the rules of a male literary society and writes whatever she wants to write. With Solitud the recognition of Víctor Català as a brilliant writer was unanimous: “the most sensational event ever seen in modern Catalan literature” in the words of critic Manuel de Montoliu (introduction to Víctor Català’s Obres Completes, Barcelona: Selecta, 1951).

Despite her success, Caterina Albert was considered a threat to the Noucentisme literary movement, due to her opposition to the group’s ideological agenda. After the publication of Solitud, Víctor Català published her second and last novel, Un film (3.000 metres) in 1926 and rather sporadically, some collections of short stories up to 1944. The author retired from the literary activity and died in her hometown, L’Escala, after having decided to spend the last 10 years of her life in bed.

Contribution by Ana-Belén Redondo-Campillos
Lecturer, Department of Spanish & Portuguese

Title: Solitut
Title in English: Solitude
Author: Víctor Català (pseudonym for Caterina Albert i Paradís), 1869-1966
Imprint: Barcelona : Biblioteca Joventut, 1909.
Edition: 3rd edition
Language: Catalan
Language Family: Indo-European, Romance
Source: HathiTrust Digital Library (University of Michigan)
URL: https://hdl.handle.net/2027/mdp.39015029495648

Print editions at Berkeley: 

  • Serialized edition published across eight issues in April 2015 in Joventut: periódich catalanista: literatura, arts, ciencias. Barcelona : [publisher not identified], 1900-1906.
  • Solitud. Barcelona : Edicions 62, 1979.
  • Solitud. 1oth ed. Barcelona: Edicions de la Magrana, 1996.
  • Solitud. 20th ed. Barcelona : Selecta, 1980. valoració crítica per Manuel de Montoliu.
  • Solitude: A Novel. Columbia, La: Readers International, 1992. translated from the Catalan with a preface by David H. Rosenthal.

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Medieval Hebrew

The Languages of Berkeley: An Online Exhibition

First page with text in hebrew, latin, and arabic.
First page of De idololatria liber with text in Hebrew, Latin, and Arabic.

Dionysus Vossius’s Latin translation of Maimonides’s Laws of Idolatry, first published in 1642, is self-evidently the product of many cultures. On some pages, you can find four different alphabets: Hebrew, Latin, Arabic, and Greek. Yet the text itself aims to protect the singular, true religion from all other pretenders. A paradoxical work of cosmopolitan xenophobia, this version of “Laws of Idolatry” sheds light on the contradictions and complexities of 17th-century Christian Hebraism, and it places a canonical Jewish text in a surprising, unfamiliar context.

Maimonides had long been a favorite among Christians (“the only Jew to desist from talking nonsense,” as the scholar Joseph Scaliger wrote), and his philosophical masterpiece, The Guide to the Perplexed was translated to Latin in the thirteenth century. But his law codes remained more obscure. Only after Christian knowledge of and interest in Hebrew exploded in the sixteenth century did scholars begin mining them — for philological tidbits, interpretations of scripture, and mythographic lore. That’s because while the Laws of Idolatry mainly contains practical restrictions on Jewish interactions with idolaters, it also contains Maimonides’ capsule history of various forms of idolatry. This history and typology proved immensely important in a nascent scholarly discipline, what we would call today the comparative history of religion.

Dionysus Vossius, a Dutchman, was probably inspired to translate and annotate Maimonides by the great English scholar John Selden. Selden had used Maimonides to write De Diis Syriis, a comprehensive treatment of the pagan gods which heavily influenced John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Dionysus’s father Gerardus Vossius, himself a great scholar and friend of the Dutch jurist and historian Hugo Grotius, took Dionysus to England, where he met Selden and studied. Dionysus was a precocious scholar (he wrote an Arabic dictionary at sixteen), but he died at 21, and the Laws of Idolatry is consequently bound with his father’s complete works.

I am drawn to this volume by its incredible synthesis of religions and cultures: the English, Dutch, and Continental European republic of letters; the text’s many learned languages; the mixed Christian, Jewish, and pagan histories. To be sure, the combination is not without tension. The famous passage in which Maimonides proclaimed Christians idolaters (9:4) is of course absent here, as even in Hebrew it was a favorite target for Christian censors. And indeed, Vossius’s translation was itself banned, placed on the Catholic Church’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum in 1717. Yet there is a remarkable irony in this most avowedly parochial of books becoming a source of wisdom for Christian scholars. This odd jumble of languages, prejudices, agendas and mistakes is a little glimpse of early modern globalization; its yellowed pages contain a world that is shockingly interconnected, mixed-up, and vibrant.

Contribution by Raphael Magarik
PhD Student, Department of English

Title: De idololatria liber
Title in English: The Laws of Idolatry
Author: Maimonides, Moses, 1135-1204; Latin translation and notes by Dionysius Vossius
Imprint: Amsterdam: Joan Blaeu, 1668.
Edition: uncertain
Language: Medieval Hebrew
Language Family: Afro-Asiatic, Northwest Semitic
Source: Google Books (Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma)
URL: https://books.google.com/books?id=sZ4PtQEACAAJ&pg=PA1#v=onepage&q&f=false

Print editions at Berkeley: 

Maimonides, Moses, and Dionysius Vossius. De idololatria liber. Amsterdami: apud Ioannem Blaev, 1668. Bancroft Folio f BL200.V6 D3 1668 v.2

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Danish

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Danish
Title page of second edition published in 1849.

Although he had previously written a handful of articles, a book length review of a Hans Christian Andersen novel, and a magister dissertation on irony, the Danish philosopher, theologian and litterateur Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) considered Enten – Eller (Either/Or) to be the first work of his authorship proper. Under the pseudonym Victor Eremita, Kierkegaard published the two-volume novel with C. A. Reitzel in 1843. Kierkegaard published under pseudonyms so that the reader would not turn to him as an authority on how to interpret and live out the works. Henriette Wulff wrote from Copenhagen to H. C. Andersen in Germany, “Recently a book was published here with the title Either/Or! It is supposed to be quite strange, the first part full of Don Juanism, skepticism, et cetera, and the second part toned down and conciliating, ending with a sermon that is said to be quite excellent. The whole book has attracted much attention.”[1] By the standards of the small Danish book market, it sold well, and went into a second edition in 1849. The second edition is of especial interest because archival evidence indicates that Kierkegaard gave a gift copy of it to H. C. Andersen. This gesture can be seen as a rapprochement, since Kierkegaard’s 1838 review of Andersen’s Kun en Spillemand (Only a Fiddler) was quite scathing. Previously, Andersen had tried to show that there were no hard feelings by gifting Kierkegaard a copy of his Nye Eventyr (New fairytales), but Kierkegaard made no reply.  Unfortunately, Andersen’s copy of the second edition of Enten – Eller is believed to be no longer extant. (In 2001, Niels Lillelund published a Nordic Noir novel entitled Den amerikanske samler [The American collector], which follows a bookstore owner’s pursuit of this priceless item.)

Enten – Eller has been translated into English, Spanish, Russian, and Chinese, as well as into a number of other languages. In addition to having online access to the second edition, the UC Berkeley Library has a hardcopy of the fourth edition in its holdings.

Danish is spoken by roughly six million people around the world. The Department of Scandinavian at UC Berkeley regularly offers courses in both the Danish language and in Danish literature in translation. The Danish language is taught by Senior Lecturer Karen Møller, and Danish literature is taught by Professor Karin Sanders. In the fall of 2018, Scandinavian 180, “The Works, Context, and Legacy of Søren Kierkegaard” introduced a group of students to Kierkegaard, the Danish Golden Age, and the author’s influence on twentieth-century philosophy and world literature. The course was taught by the author of this essay.

Contribution by Troy Smith
PhD Student, Department of Scandinavian

Sources consulted:

  1. Quoted in Joakim Garff, Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography, trans. Bruce H. Kirmmse (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007), 216–17.

~~~~~~~~~~
Title:
Enten – Eller
Title in English: Either/Or
Author: Victor Eremita, pseudonym for Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855)
Imprint: Kjøbenhavn, C.A. Reitzel, 1849.
Edition: 2nd edition
Language: Danish
Language Family: Indo-European, Germanic
Source: HathiTrust Digital Library (University of Minnesota)
URL: https://hdl.handle.net/2027/umn.31951d02153608j

Print editions at Berkeley: Enten – eller. Et livs-fragment, udg. af Victor Eremita [pseud.]. 4. udg. Kjøbenhavn, C. A. Reitzel, 1878.

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The Languages of Berkeley is a dynamic online sequential exhibition celebrating the diversity of languages that have advanced research, teaching and learning at the University of California, Berkeley. It is made possible with support from the UC Berkeley Library and is co-sponsored by the Berkeley Language Center (BLC).

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