Some Links.

Once again links are piling up faster than I can post ’em, so here are several:

1) U-M helps open more than 25,000 early English books to public:

The U-M Library, the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries and ProQuest have made public more than 25,000 manually transcribed texts from 1473-1700 — the first 200 years of the printed book.

The texts represent a significant portion of the estimated total output of English-language work published during the first two centuries of printing in England.

(If you’re wondering why the texts are manually transcribed, they explain that “these first printed works use character sets and spelling that aren’t OCR-friendly.”)

2) Balashon is back in business after a hiatus of several years (see this post for explanation: “I often felt that if I didn’t come up with some original insight in my research, it wasn’t worth posting anything. …it became fairly intimidating to start anything new, particularly if I didn’t have the time required to work on something so big. So now, I think I’d like to return to my original format. I’ll try to write frequently, and often I’ll just quote one or two sources”); there have been wonderful posts on words for lion, cholent, bashert, and many other Hebrew words and expressions; one unexpected derivation particularly caught me eye: sechus סחוס ‘cartilage’ “arose through a misreading of חסחוס as הסחוס, whose ה was mistaken for the article and was consequently dropped” — i.e., “chas’chus was read as has’chus, meaning ‘the sechus‘.” Isn’t that great? A hearty welcome back to a fine blog.

3) The poet featured in this year’s Compass Translation Award is Boris Slutsky. There doesn’t appear to be a webpage at the Stosvet site yet comparable to last year’s for the Arseny Tarkovsky Competition, but if you use Facebook, here‘s the relevant FB page — one translated poem per entry (team entries are allowed), the translation (along with the Russian original) should be sent via email to with the words “Slutsky Contest” in the subject line, and the fee is $20 per entry. Slutsky was something of an unpoetic poet; his poems tend to feature such plainspoken lines as “Плохие времена тем хороши,/ Что выявленью качества души/ Способствуют и казни, и война…” (Bad times are good in that they assist the qualities of the soul in showing themselves, executions, war…). He started out as a war poet and gained official recognition, but starting in the late 1950s some of his work appeared abroad as samizdat (never with his permission); after the death of his wife in 1977 he apparently suffered a mental breakdown and stopped writing (he died in 1986). He was one of the members of the Union of Writers who voted for the expulsion of Pasternak in 1958, which left him with a sense of guilt; he wrote a poem “Прощение” (Forgiveness) that begins “Грехи прощают за стихи./ Грехи большие — за стихи большие” (Sins are forgiven for poetry. Great sins — for great poetry). There are links to his poems at this XIX век post.


  1. I really want to like Balashon. I’ve certainly found interesting stuff in it. But I find the author’s choice of residence unsettling. That’s just me.

  2. I of course respect your priorities; me, I choose not to let personal facts about artists, writers, scholars, and the like influence my view of their work.

  3. Given the nature of the first comment on this thread (too bad, I scrolled down so I could equate the sechus thing to English’s apron), it might be fair to educate the highly moral Y (who’s afraid to devulge his place of residence, lest we dig to find some displaced Native American habitat I assume) of the history of Efrat and its surroundings, or how it came to be east of the green line:

  4. Yuval, to be clear, I just wanted to mention something that was making me very uncomfortable. I understand that others have a different reaction than I do, including our host, whose opinion I fully respect just as he does mine. Because I have commented here many times before, over a number of years, I permitted myself to mention this political sore point, which others might want to consider, or ignore. I don’t want to further take advantage of Hat’s hospitality by getting into a long Israeli-Palestinian issues argument, which the web (and the real world) has too much of already.
    (For the record, I don’t now live, never have lived, and hopefully never will live at any place which is currently under legal dispute.)

  5. I don’t want to further take advantage of Hat’s hospitality by getting into a long Israeli-Palestinian issues argument, which the web (and the real world) has too much of already.

    Thanks, I entirely agree.

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