Literary roundup: Russian decadence, a duel and the man who never wore glasses

Oxford University is the site of a conference on the last two decades of Russian literature titled Decadence or Renaissance? Russian literature since 1991 that starts today. Besides all the academic speakers discussing issues as diverse as the latest wave of Russian and Russian-Jewish emigration, political novels, counter-culture and oil, there are two guest authors in attendance.

Mikhail Shishkin is about to be introduced to the English-speaking world, with Marian Schwartz’s translation of his novel Maidenhair being published by Open Letter in October and The Light and the Dark (apparently his 2010 novel Pis’movnik/Letter-Book), translated by Andrew Bromfield, being published by Quercus in March 2013.






Vladimir Sharov will be reading from his 1993 novel Before and During due to be published in a translation by Oliver Ready by Dedalus in April 2013.






From Klingon to Kuprin

Throughout August, Melville House hosted a series of posts on its website: The Art of Translation: Kuprin’s The Duel, written by the translator of Kuprin’s great novella, Josh Billings, and well worth reading. Beginning with his first steps into the Russian language (by way of Star Trek, naturally), how he ended up taking on this particular translation instead of writing the novel – the “bright book of life” – he assumed he was going to write and goes on to learn something profound (I can’t tell you what – you have to read it).

He goes on to write about the “anti-heroine” of Kuprin’s work and the writer himself, who Tolstoy called the “true successor to Chekhov,” and who loved Jack London and Kipling.

Here are links to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 and Part 5.

Photo – A sketch of Lermontov’s fatal duel (1832-34)

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