The World Digital Library “makes available on the Internet, free of charge and in multilingual format, significant primary materials from countries and cultures around the world.” The materials are mostly photographs and maps, but you can browse by type of item; here are the books, which include, for instance, a 1907 history of the First Nerchinsk Cossack Regiment; the second Augsburg edition of the Fables of Aesop, “translated from Latin into German by Heinrich Steinhöwel” and “illustrated with 208 woodcuts”; and Blake’s Book of Urizen. Quite a treasure trove already, and presumably it will continue expanding. (Thanks, Paul!)


  1. I’ve used posts from your blog in my own blog.

  2. Nice blog! Did you get your latest post from Alexei’s comment in this LH thread? As I said there, it’s Alexei Tolstoi (not Lev). As for:
    «Hу, — думают, — команда!
    Здесь ногу сломит чёрт,
    Es ist ja eine Schande,
    Wir müssen wieder fort».
    It means:
    “Well,” they think, “[what a] crew!
    Here the devil himself would be at a loss.
    It’s a shame
    we must be off again.”

  3. I think this is a great site. I love the way the zoom works on the maps, it’s very sharp. My only quibble is that they lump together prints & photographs; they are two very different categories, and it’s annoying to get one when you want the other.

  4. Tim May says

    One of the manuscripts included on the Maya is a fake.

  5. Tsk. I hope they remove it.

  6. Speaking of Tolstoy.
    The other day I noticed that the library I work at had a selection of his work for the Russian course.
    Only someone had put down his given name in the database as “JIEB”. Admittedly the top line was pretty thin.
    I changed it to “LEV”, but now I suspect they won’t be able to find the book again …

  7. marie-lucie says

    One of the manuscripts included on the Maya is a fake.
    Too bad a “fake” is included, but in what sense is this work a fake: because it is not as old as claimed, or because it is not in Maya in the first place? Note that “Maya” is not a single language but, as with “Chinese”, there are a number of them.

  8. marie-lucie: The details are laid out on the page I linked to. It’s a twentieth-century forgery of a sixteenth-century Spanish manuscript describing Maya writing &c.
    (Such, at least, is the allegation. I’m not claiming to be able to distinguish such things myself, but I’m inclined to trust Mesoweb on this.)

  9. marie-lucie says

    Tim: so the manuscript is not in a Mayan language at all, and the point of the forgery is to make it appear that the Spaniards (or at least the author of the supposed work) already knew how Maya writing worked?

  10. Yes, AJP, the zoom does work very well, once I had fiddled with it for some time.
    I went straight to the maps because I’m a map-lover. As usual, the cataloguing drives me up the wall because at one time the history of cartography was one of my areas of expertise. Take the fourth map, the map of the world. The cataloguer identifies it as a Guillaume de l’Isle because his name is after the title (in the cartouche, top-centre). But de l’Isle died in 1726 and the map was made in 1775. It was made by Tobias Lotter (duly recognized), so Lotter should be expounded upon, not de l’Isle. All I could say is that Lotter copied the map, leaving de l’Isle’s name on it, because de l’Isle’s excellent mapmaking was well known. By 1775 the map was out of date, so Lotter was hoping to make some money out of de l’Isle’s name (a very common practice if you couldn’t make a name for yourself with your own work).
    In actual fact, the Description should describe the map and it’s relevance to it’s time, which is nil. It’s only relevance is to the history of the House of Lotter.
    Help! Have I reversed it’s and its? Is my synapse snapping in reverse?

Speak Your Mind