Sorbian Publications, 1693-1853
Sorbian Publications, 1693-1853
Library of Russian Academy of Science, St. Petersburg
Sorbian writings are the cultural heritage of a small West Slavic language group that used to be spoken in what is now south-eastern Germany. It is closely related to Polish, Kashubian, Czech, and Slovak, and is still used in Upper and Lower Lusatia.
This is the first time that this collection of Sorbian works, comprising 64 books and 5 periodicals dating from the end of the seventeenth/beginning of the nineteenth century, is being published. The materials presented in this collection are written in Upper and Lower Sorbian, Latin, and German.
The first extensive written Sorbian texts - translations of the religious literature of the Reformation - were composed in the sixteenth century. This collection contains the oldest works on Sorbian linguistics, for example, De Originibus Linguae Sorbicae by A. Frenceli, Vocabularium Latino-serbicum by J. Swetlik, and fourteen Bibles in Upper and Lower Sorbian. Sorbian Literature started flourishing in the end of the 18th century after being strongly influenced by the ideas of Enlightment. Writings from the beginning of the nineteenth century, such as educational brochures, early magazines, and scientific monographs, reflect the period of the national renaissance of Sorbian culture. Such periodicals as Serbska Jutnicka, Jutnitzka, Serbski Nowinkar, etc. are almost complete, which demonstrates the exclusiveness of this collection. MA collection of seven Wittenberg brochures Jadno pratkowane na nezelu, issued by a group of young Sorbian translators, strongly influenced the development of Sorbian literary language. They are extremely rare and practically unknown to Western scientists. The collection also contains Pjesnicki hornych a delnych Luziskich Serbow - a unique publication of Sorbian folk songs and tales collected by L. Haupt and J.E. Smoler.
Translations of The Bible
The pride of the collection is fourteen translations of the Bible into Upper and Lower Sorbian. Because of the religious division of Sorbs, the Bible has been translated into two languages - Upper Sorbian, which was meant for Catholics (printed in Bautzen/Budeshin) and Lower Sorbian - for Reformed (printed in Cottbus/Choschobus). One can find here the very first and complete translation into Upper Sorbian, dated 1728. First examples of Lower Sorbian, which are translations of the Old and New Testament date back to 1796 and 1709 (the latter item used to belong to Prince Aleksei, son of Peter the Great).
The Russian Academy of Sciences Library (BAN)
BAN is the oldest library in Russia and one of the biggest libraries in the world. It consists of three sections - Russian, Slavic and Foreign, which store more than 20,000,000 volumes. The Slavic section of BAN is a universal information source for researchers in Slavic Studies. It contains around 270,000 volumes, printed between the 17th century and 1930 in all Slavic languages, except Russian. The most valuable items of the Slavic section have been acquired between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century.
Sorbian Publications, 1693-1853 is the oldest part of a vast Sorbian collection of BAN. Today the Russian Academy of Sciences Library owns 271 Sorbian books and 22 Sorbian periodicals, which were collected between 1900 and 1920. Sorbian materials arrived in BAN in several different ways. A part of the collection was donated by linguists A. Muka (1854-1932) and I.I. Sreznevskii (1812-1880) form their private collections, and some were obtained from the Russian linguist A.L. Petrov in 1924. The rest of the collection comes from various sources, starting with the year 1908. The collection is very rare, as fascists destroyed the central archive and library of Sorbs in 1937.