Newsletter Archive

Amsterdam, June 2008, Number 23


Editor: Hella Rottenberg

CONTENTS

“The Resurrection of Good Books after the Death of Communism”

Romanian Books In Print

Ukrainian Books in Print and regional distribution network

Grants
Books Recently Published

Funding


“The Resurrection of Good Books after the Death of Communism”

On 6 June 2008 on the eve of its annual meeting, the CEEBP organised a public debate in cooperation with the Amsterdam academic cultural centre Spui25.*) The lively debate, chaired by Jos de Beus (Professor of Political Science University of Amsterdam, UvA), with Dennis Deletant (Professor of Romanian Studies at the University College, London and at the UvA), Eda Kriseová (writer), Christina Pribichević Zorich (literary translator, and Chief of the Language Services at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague), and Elizabeth Winter (editor at the Times Literary Supplement), focused on the role of literature and the humanities in an emerging Europe.

The panel and the public discussed questions raised by Jos de Beus: What are the assets and liabilities of European culture after the violent twentieth century? Are books in or out in the midst of the changing tides and waves of fashion? Did Central European literary culture reach a climax in the period of resistance against communism? Or is it flourishing today in tandem with democratisation? What do writers and public intellectuals do in East and West to protect writing, reading, and discussing the role of literature in a climate of new authoritarianism and consumerism? Do East and West meet?

The debate was introduced by the chair of the CEEBP, Greetje van den Bergh:

“The Trustees and the international Advisory Board of the Fund for Central and East European Book Projects gather once a year in Amsterdam, and we thought this the perfect opportunity to share their expertise, their ideas and their expectations in a public debate with interested people from inside and outside the university community. 

All the more so, because Amsterdam was granted the UNESCO title of the World Book Capital 2008. We could not think of a better occasion to highlight the relationship between books, writers, publishers, and the freedom of the word and thought. After all, “Amsterdam used to be a place of refuge for free speech and the written word”, as the organisation of Amsterdam World Book Capital claims.

One might say that already some centuries ago, everything that was forbidden elsewhere, was permitted in this city. One might also say - and for instance Jonathan Israel never tires of reiterating - that this made Amsterdam an important agent on the road to the Enlightenment that changed West European society. 

The idea of the relationship between the availability of books, of texts, and the power of the free word, was at the origin of the Fund. For decades, free access to the world of philosophy, history, sociology, and literature, was difficult if not impossible in many countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

The Oxford initiative set up in the 1980’s by, among others, Ralf Dahrendorf and Timothy Garton Ash, helped to provide and distribute translations in this domain into and from the languages of Central and Eastern Europe. In 1992, the European Cultural Foundation embraced the initiative, and this foundation supports the CEEBP until the present day.

Why till today? Does it make sense to think that West European organisations and people still have a role to play as far as literature and the free word in Central & Eastern Europe are concerned? And if so – what kind of role?

It is true that, as the announcement of a forthcoming conference “Challenging the book in scholarship and higher education” puts it, books still play a vital role in the humanities and social sciences. But is it also true that these books, their authors and their readers, play a vital role in the developments in modern society?

What is the role of intellectuals in today’s public discourse? Do books – scholarly works, essays, novels - still influence the public debate, the public sphere? And - first of all - what is the public sphere in these young democracies? A public exchange of ideas and opinions on the future of the society within an international context still hardly seems to exist in a number of them.  

Recently travelling through the Baltic states for several weeks, I realized once again that, for instance, newspapers and serious journals hardly play any role in the public sphere in these countries. Quality papers, let alone foreign or international papers, are hard to find, even in Tallinn or Vilnius. There are very few bookshops that you can compare with what we consider to be a normal infrastructure for ‘the free word’. Finding good books, or even getting to know that they exist, is still complicated.

Evidently, ‘not being forbidden any more’ is not the same as ‘being possible in the real world of a market economy’. So if you ask: is the free word guaranteed nowadays in, for instance, Lithuania, the answer is ‘it depends’. In theory: yes. In fact: perhaps, but it is often hard to find.

The next question then is: why should we bother?

You might say that one of the many shameful events in the history of Europe during the 20th century was the fact that for decades we accepted that the border of freedom – freedom of thought, of publication, of public debate – was less than 500 kilometres away from Amsterdam. To guarantee free and pluralistic societies in Western Europe after 1945, we accepted that our liberation meant a new occupation, for over 40 years, in Central and Eastern Europe.

Yes of course, we burnt a candle at our window at night to encourage the Polish people who fought for freedom and democracy. But once they were successful, we worried chiefly about the Polish plumber who might disturb our labour market, or more recently, about his children attending Dutch schools. 

We worry much less about the mental and intellectual gap history has created, and widened, between the old and the new member states. Yet, in the end this might prove to be a more complicated problem within the European Union than financial or economic aspects of enlargement.

Some might say that it is too soft and too ‘old politics’ to think that we have a moral duty to deal with this problem. But even they must at least admit that it is also in our own interest to stimulate responsible citizenship, not only in the old member states, but also in Central & Eastern Europe, in order to let democratic stability and plurality prevail over renascent nationalism, authoritarianism, corruption, and discrimination against minorities. 

But then again, this presumes that the connection between the availability of written texts and the power of the free word still exists, that humanities and literature still matter for the development of society. Does reading good books make good Europeans? Good citizens of Europe? With a wink at Nietzsche, ‘Gute Europäer’? That is the question we have to deal with today.”

*) SPUI25 is an academic cultural centre of the University of Amsterdam, run in partnership with the Amsterdam University Press, the Bezige Bij publishing house, the Athenaeum bookshop, and the daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad.

By Vera Ebels


Romanian Books In Print

Initiated by the Association of Romanian Publishers (AER), the project will develop in the coming three years a Romanian online Books In Print (BIP) catalogue with the assistance of the Fund for Central and East European Book Projects (CEEBP) and financial support from the Austrian ERSTE Stiftung.

The online BIP catalogue will present public information about all books of Romanian publishers with an ISBN which are available on the market, the price of a book, and how and where to acquire the books listed. Further, it will contain reviews of books, and information about authors, translators, publishers, bookshops, antiquarian bookshops, wholesalers, book importers and exporters, libraries, with links to all relevant websites. A regular newsletter will be sent to subscribers with alerts on new books and book related news such as literary prizes.

The project will provide (a) the knowledge and training needed for the development, maintenance and use of the online BIP catalogue, (b) promotion, (c) partial funding for the three years project period on a decreasing scale, and guidance in financing the Books in Print – itself a non profit activity – increasingly by the project participants to make it fully self-sustainable at the end of the project in the year 2011.


Ukrainian Books in Print and regional distribution network

The wholesalers Dzherela M and Summit Book, who are building a network of regional book distribution centres across the country within the framework of the Ukrainian book trade project aiming at enhanced accessibility of books across the country, dissemination of information about books and professional standards, have launched a Books in Print catalogue.

The online catalogue includes more than 140 thousand titles, out which 62.400 are available on the market. The catalogue has a website for professional users (booksellers, publishers and libraries), www.vsiknygy.org.ua, and a website for the general public, “Drug chitacha” (Reader’s Friend), at http://vsiknygy.net.ua with book reviews, interviews with authors, announcements of new books, and other items from the book market.

The regional distribution network centres have been established in thirteen cities so far: Chernivtsi (Chernowitz), Dniepropetrovsk, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kherson, Khmelnitsky, Lvov, Mykolaiv, Poltava, Rovne, Vinnytsia, Odessa, Simferopol, and Zaporizhia. The last centre is planned to open before the end of the project this year. In May, the CEEBP staff surveyed the four centres it had not yet visited before in Ivano-Frankivsk, Khmelnitsky, Lvov, and Vinnytsia.

Training visit to The Netherlands

In April, a second group of Ukrainian distribution managers visited The Netherlands together with the local project coordinators for an intensive course under the guidance of the retired vice-president of the Dutch Association of Booksellers, Guus Schut. The course included a workshop on “What a distributor should know about bookselling” by Mr Schut; a seminar with the former head of the Dutch Book Trade Association Training Centre VOB, Jeroen Kans, on cooperation within the book trade, “The cake becomes larger when you bake it together”; an introduction by the director of the new Amsterdam City Library, Hans van Velzen, about the public library and about the Library Service centre (NBD / Biblion); a tour along a variety of specialized as well as general bookshops in and outside Amsterdam, with a lecture by the director of the renown Athenaeum bookshop about the Dutch book market, and the exhibition at the University Library, Oude Turfmarkt: “Boek zoekt lezer” (Books Search Readers) about the history of Dutch book promotion. The distributors’ visit to the Netherlands is supplementary to the project’s regular training courses provided by Polish and Dutch book trade experts in Lvov, Kiev, and Charkov which are open to all book trade professionals.

The project is financed by the Matra programme of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, CEEBP, IRF, and the project participants.


GRANTS

In April 2008, the CEEBP awarded sixteen grants for books and two special grants. The grants for books were awarded for thirteen West – East translations, and three East – East translations. Eight of the grants concern works in the humanities, while eight are literary titles. The special grants were awarded for matching funds for entries of Central and East European publishers in the Frankfurter Buchmesse catalogues and International Rights directors meeting, and to Transitions Online for its book review section. 

Books

Warsaw

Other grants – Central & Eastern Europe in general

participation at International Rights Directors Meeting


BOOKS  PUBLISHED WITH CEEBP SUPPORT IN January – June 2008

Peter Bartl, Albanien. Vom Mittelalter bis zur Gegenwart. © Verlag Friedrich Pustet, Regensburg, 1995

Translated from German into Albanian by Afrim Koçi: Shquiptarët. Nga Mesjeta deri në ditët tona, Instituti i Dialogut & Komunikimit, Tirana 2008                                             

David Cesarani, Eichmann: His Life and Crimes. © 2004 by David Cesarani, Vintage 2004

Translated from English into Czech by Petra Kůsová, Argo, Prague 2008

Raymond Detrez, Kosovo. De uitgestelde oorlog. © Raymond Detrez / Uitgeverij Houtekiet, Antwerpen 1999

Translated from Flemish into Bulgarian by Aneta Dancheva-Manolova: Kosovo. Otlozhenata nezavisimost, Izdatelstvo “Kralica Mab”, Sofia 2008

John Donne, Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions. Originally published in 1624. Oxford University Press, 2000

Translated from English into Serbian by Zoran Janić: Molitve u teškim časovima, Alexandria Press, Belgrade 2008

Jan Patočka, Kacířské eseje o filozofii dějin. © The Jan Patočka Archive in Prague 2006, OIKOYMENH, Praha 2002, originally published in samizdat in Prague

Translated from Czech into Russian by Pavel Přilutský: Ereticheskie esse o filosofii istorii, Logvinov, Minsk 2008

Rainer Maria Rilke, Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge. Nach der Ausgabe Werke,Kommentierte Ausgabe in vier Banden, Hrsg. von August Stahl. Insel Verlag, Frankfurt am Main und Leipzig, 1996

Translated from German into Romanian by Bogdan Mihai Dascălu; comments and annotations translated by Crişu Dascălu, with an afterword by Aura Christi: Însemnările lui Malte Laurids Brigge, Ideea Europeană, Bucureşti 2008

Marina Ţsvetaieva, Proza & Poklonis’ Moskve. (A Bow to Moscow) © Marina Tzvetaieva, Sovremennik, Moscow, 1989 and Moskovski’ Raboci, Moscow 1989

Translated from Russian into Romanian by Janina Ianoşi, with a preface and annotations by Ion Ianoşi: Proză, Ideea Europeană, Bucureşti 2008

Max Weber, Die Stadt. Tübingen, 1922, © Mohr Siebeck Verlag, Tübingen 1999

Translation from German into Albanian by Vullnet Muço: Qyteti, Shtëpia Botuese Fan Noli, Tirana 2008

Avraham B. Yehoshua, Mar Mani. Ha’Kibutz Ha’meuhad (Israel), 1990, © 1989 A.B. Yehoshua

Translation from Hebrew into Polish by Leszek Kwiatkowski, Cyklady, Warsaw 2008

Books published with CEEBP support in 2007 received in 2008

Leonid Dobîcin, Polnoe sobranie sochineii i pisem (Collected Works and Letters), Journal Zvezda, 1999

Translation from Russian into Romanian, preface and annotations by Leo Butnaru: Întălnirile cu Liz (Meeting with Liz), Ideea Europeană / Europress, Bucureşti 2007

Velimir Hlebnikov, Tvorenia (Creations), Sovietski Pisatel, Moscow 1986

Translation from Russian into Romanian, and preface, chronological table and annotations by  Leo Butnaru: Joc î iad şi muncă-n rai. Poemi, Ideea Europeană, Bucureşti 2007

László Kontler, A History of Hungary. Millennium in Central Europe. © László Kontler, 2002. Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2002. Originally published in English under the title Millennium in Central Europe. A History of Hungary. © Atlantisz Köyvkiadó, Budapest 1999

Translation from English into Croatian by Draženka Kešić and Silvije Devald: Povijest Mađarske. Tisuću godina u Srednjoj Europi. Srednja Europa, Zagreb 2007

Orhan Pamuk, Yeni Hayat (The New Life), Copyright © 1994 Iletisim Yayincilik A.S., Istanbul

Translation from Turkish into Czech by Petra Prahlová: Nový život, Agite / Fra, Prague 2007

Michail Shishkin, Venerin volos (Venus hair), Vagrius, Moscow, 2005, © Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2006

Translation from Russian into Bulgarian by Ivan Totomanov: Venerini kosi, Fakel Expres / Janet 45, Sofia / Plovdiv 2007

Filip Topol, Karla Klenotníka cesta na Korsiku (Of Karel Klenotník´s Trip to Corsica), Maťa Publishers, Prague 1999; Jáchym Topol, Anděl (Angel), Hynek, Prague 1995; Josef Topol, Sbohem Sokrate (Goodbye, Socrates), Edice Petlice, Prague 1977 (clandestine edition) and Torst, Prague 2001 (the latest revised edition)
Translated from Czech into Belorussian by Veronica Bialkovich and Siarhei Smatrychenka: Aniel, Logvinov Publisher, Minsk 2007

For a list of all books published with CEEBP support see our website at www.ceebp.org/books.htm


FUNDING

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