Thursday, April 20, 2006

Periodicals Are Us

Czech periodical sources have been of burning interest to a number of people here lately. Perhaps it is something to do with the phases of the moon. One’s interest in that sort of thing does tend to wax and wane.
The Národní knihovna website does include an excellent article database (České články báze ANL). I’ve found lots of articles on Toyen and Štyrský this way, and there seem to be lots of citations for cimbalom and cimbalom group articles for Jesse, but the database begins in 1991. How, then, does one find pre-1991 Czech articles?
I have no very useful answer to this yet. Most of the articles I need, from the 1920s and 1930s, are cited by Czech scholars. I take a citation for an article in Pásmo or ReD or Musaion, order the journal for the year in question, and proceed to comb through the entire thing to see what else might be there. I recommend this procedure highly, as not only does one uncover additional useful articles, but one sees everything in its context. This is how, for example, I find ads for the Toyen-Štyrský-Nečas guide to Paris, or for books illustrated by Toyen or Štyrský. It’s how I find out which photos and diagrams accompanied Karel Teige’s articles. It’s how I find out what was said about psychoanalysis or Josephine Baker. I do the same thing for citations from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, except that there is usually less need to peruse the entire journal. (I still examine at least the table of contents, because during that period, it is likely that an article I want may be part of a theme issue on early twentieth century art or some such thing.)
Still, I can see that there is something of a black hole for about 1940-1990. One of Dawn’s Czech friends assures us that there is no such thing as a guide to Czech periodical literature prior to 1991. While this seems hard to believe (in high school or thereabouts, Americans learn about Reader’s Guide or whatever it is called, not that we ever use it much, and we have numerous specialized academic periodical guides going back to the 1930s or so), it may well be true.
As someone who doesn’t yet exactly have a raft of citations from the 1940s, 1950s, or 1970s (I do have quite a few from the 1960s and 1980s, which does not surprise me), I have little advice except that one can never go wrong by ordering volumes of bound periodicals in one’s area of interest. Something or other of use is certain to turn up.

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