It was in 1983 that the British Library acquired its first Czech and Slovak samizdat (clandestine) publications and regular acquisitions meant that within a few years the Library had built one of the best collections of this material worldwide. When, in 1989, we decided to produce a catalogue of this collection we little thought that by November of that year we would witness the end of 40 years of communist rule in Czechoslovakia and that the catalogue of the British Library holdings of Czechoslovak samizdat would mark the happy end of 20 years of the existence of underground dissemination of literature in that country.
The first edition of the catalogue of Czech and Slovak samizdats held by the British Library was issued in 1990 and contained nearly 350 items. The library continued to acquire samizdat publications of the 1970s and 1980s and as some 130 further titles have been added to stock since, we have decided to bring out a second and online edition of the catalogue.
While prior to 1990 the Library purchased many xeroxed items, especially serials, to make available to researchers otherwise inaccessible texts, the post-1990 selection policy turned more towards acquiring original samizdat items as they began to appear in second-hand booksellers' catalogues, at book auctions or were made available via contacts with those who originally produced them. These books were the actual testaments to the times when they were created. We were fortunate to obtain, for instance, at a London auction organized by the Index on Censorship in 1995, several works presented by Václav Havel, Ivan Klíma and other dissident authors. From another source we acquired some lesser known samizdat bibliophile items made in Moravia by the literary and art critic Ludvík Kundera.
All records in the catalogue are combined in one alphabetical sequence, including both monographs and serials. The catalogue's main aim is to provide a finding tool to the British Library's holdings and no attempt is made to provide a listing of pseudonyms, lists of monographs in series etc. For information of this kind the reader is advised to consult Edice českého samizdatu and other publications in the bibliography below.
The first edition of this catalogue was among the first publications dealing with Czech and Slovak samizdat of the 1970s and 1980s and in its introduction we attempted to provide some basic information on samizdat production. The subject has received deserved attention in the past ten years and much more information has come to light and appeared in print since, so it will not be repeated here. Comprehensive history of Czech and Slovak samizdat is yet to be written but the selective bibliography that follows should lead the researcher in the right direction.
Most items listed in this catalogue can be obtained on interlibrary loan via the British Library Document Supply Service, but original samizdats can be read only in the Library's Reading Rooms at our St. Pancras building in London. In addition to a note on the format, which is present in each catalogue record, these can be recognised by the shelfmark "Cup" or RF.
Items listed here are searchable on Explore the British Library.
- Acta: quarterly of the Documentation Centre for the Promotion of Independent Czechoslovak Literature. Vol. 1(1987) - 12(1989)
- Scheinfeld, W.G. Dokumentationszentrum zur Förderung der unabhängigen tschechoslovakischen Literatur, 1987-1989.
- Adamy, Herbert. Byl jsem manažerem ilegální továrny. Praha: Ostrov, 1999.
- Alternativní kultura: příběh české společnosti 40.-90. let. Praha: Lidové noviny, announced for 2002.
- Česká nezávislá literatura v ohlasech: výběrová bibliografie knih a článků od roku 1990 / uspořádali František Knopp, Jiří Mika, Jan Wiendl. Praha: Primus, 1994.
- Czechoslovakia: the unofficial culture / Roger Scruton with additions by Barbara Day [et al]. [S.l.]: Claridge Press in association with the Jan Hus Educational Foundation, 1987.
- Good-by samizdat: twenty years of Czechoslovak underground writing / edited by Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz; with a foreworth by Timothy Garton Ash. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1992.
- Gruntorád, Jiří. O nezávislých iniciativách v Československu. Praha: Reprint xerox, 1989.
- Hanáková, Jitka. Edice českého samizdatu 1972-1991. Praha Národní knihovna České republiky, 1997.
- Meier, Jan. Náš rozhovor s Ludvíkem Kunderou. Čtenář, roč. 48, č. 7 / 8 (1996), p. 283-288.
- Phillipsová, Zdenka. Tschechischer und slowakischer Samisdat der siebziger und achtziger Jahre: Bestandskatalog. Bremen: Forschungstelle Osteuropa an der Universität Bremen, 1994.
- Posset, Johanna. Česká samizdatová periodika 1968-1989. [Brno]: R & T, 1991.
- Samizdat: the dissident type: exhibition, St. Bride Printing Library 18.11. - 29.11.1999: [a catalogue] / curator Alena Petruželková. London: Embassy of the Czech Republic; Prague: Museum of Czech Literature, 1999.
- Šimulčík, Ján. Svetlo z podzemia: z kroniky katolíckeho samizdatu 1969-1989. Prešov: Vyd. Michala Vaška, 1997.
- Skilling, Gordon H. Samizdat and an independent society in Central and Eastern Europe. Basingstoke: Macmillan Press, 1989.
- Šťastnová, Kazi. Libri prohibiti: Czech samizdat on the shelf. The New Presence, February 1999, p. 25-27.
- Život v slove a život slovom: zjavné a skryté súvislosti slovenského samizdatu / Jolana Kusá, Raisa Kopsová, František Fundárek. Bratislava: Nadácia Milana Šimečku, 1995.
Susan Halstead, Curator, Czech, Slovak and Lusatian Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7588