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999 plays

October 30, 2014

Here’s a link being shared widely on social media where you can see 999 plays online. I hope to watch Duck Hunting, which I’ve never seen performed, very soon. They have plays by nineteenth-century authors too: Gogol, Griboedov, Ostrovskii, Sukhovo-Kobylin, Chekhov. And dramatizations of Dostoevskii, Tolstoi, Turgenev, Leskov, Saltykov-Shchedrin and others. I didn’t see Pisemskii, though.

Modern Languages Open

October 29, 2014

There’s a new, free, peer-reviewed, online journal called Modern Languages Open. The first issue has articles on nineteenth-century Russian literature by Elizabeth Harrison, Muireann Maguire, and Benjamin Morgan, introduced by Katherine Bowers. I’m looking forward to reading them — two of the articles are on themes that come up in Leskov’s No Way Out (Некуда, 1864), Jesuits and childbirth — but before I do, I thought I’d share the link to the journal itself. To get the article pdfs, you need to create an account, but it’s quick, doesn’t ask for much, and offers you the chance to sign up as a reader, author, and/or reviewer.

(Disclaimer: I know some of the contributors to the first issue on- or offline.)

Leskov in Russian and English, story by story

October 28, 2014

It was starting to bother me that it was fairly easy to find titles of books of translations of Leskov, but hard to know what was included in the “and other stories.” So here’s a list of Leskov’s fiction, following Hugh McLean’s list in Nikolai Leskov: The Man and His Art, with translations into English and alternate titles listed under each work. English titles not attributed to someone else are from McLean’s list. The list is arranged chronologically by publication date. It should be easy to navigate through it by pressing ctrl+F and entering an English or Russian title. Corrections/additions welcome.

1862

Погасшее дело (= Засуха)
A Case That Was Dropped (= Drought)

В тарантасе
In a Coach

Разбойник ПСС 1956-58
Translated by Michael Shotton as “The Robber” in Five Tales (1984)

1863

Ум свое, а черт свое
The Mind Takes Its Own and the Devil His Own

Краткая история одного частного умопомешательства
A Short History of a Case of Private Derangement

Kochanko moja! Na co nam rozmowa?
My Darling! What’s the Use of Talking?

Овцебык ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by R. Norman as “The Musk-Ox” in The Musk-Ox and Other Tales (1944)
Translated by David McDuff as “Musk-Ox” in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Other Stories (1987)

Язвительный ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by R. Norman as “The Stinger” in The Musk-Ox and Other Tales (1944)
Translated by Michael Shotton as “A Spiteful Fellow” in Five Tales (1984)
Other title used: “The Mocker” in McLean 1977

Житие одной бабы ПСС 1956-58
The Life of a Peasant Martyress

1864

Некуда ПСС 1902-03 т. 8; ПСС 1902-03 т. 9; ПСС 1902-03 т. 10; ПСС 1902-03 т. 11; ПСС 1956-58
Titles used: Nowhere to Go in Edgerton 1969, No Way Out in McLean 1977 and many other places

1865

Леди Макбет Мценского уезда ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by A. E. Chamot as “The Lady Macbeth of the Mzinsk District” in The Sentry and Other Stories (1922)
Translated by Bernard Guilbert Guerney as “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” in Treasury of Russian Literature (1943)
Translated by George H. Hanna as “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (1958)
Translated by David Magarshack as “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” in Selected Tales (1961)
Translated by David McDuff as “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Other Stories (1987)
Translated by Robert Chandler as Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (2003)
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “The Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)

Обойденные ПСС 1902-03 т. 6; ПСС 1902-03 т. 7
The Bypassed

1866

Челобитная
A Humble Petition [poem]

Воительница ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by David Magarshack as “The Amazon” in The Amazon and Other Stories (1949)
Other title used: “The Battle-Axe” in McLean 1977

Островитяне ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
The Islanders

1867

Чающие движения воды (see also Соборяне under 1872)
Waiting for the Moving of the Water

Котин доилец и Платонида ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by R. Norman as “Kotin and Platonida” in The Musk-Ox and Other Tales (1944)
Other title used: “Kotin the He-Cow and Platonida” in McLean 1977

Расточитель ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
The Spendthrift

Божедомы (see also Соборяне under 1872)
Dwellers in God’s House

1869

Старые годы в селе Плодомасове ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Old Times in the Village of Plodomasovo

1870

Загадочный человек ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
An Enigmatic Man

1870-71

На ножах ПСС 1902-03 т. 23; ПСС 1902-03 т. 24; ПСС 1902-03 т. 25; ПСС 1902-03 т. 26; ПСС 1902-03 т. 271994 edition with introduction by Shelaeva
At Daggers Drawn

1871

Смех и горе ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Laughter and Grief

1872

Соборяне ПСС 1902-03 т. 1ПСС 1902-03 т. 2; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by Isabel F. Hapgood as The Cathedral Folk (1924)
Translated by Margaret Winchell as The Cathedral Clergy: A Chronicle (2010)
Other titles used: Cathedral Folk in McLean 1977 and elsewhere, Church Folks in a 2013 dissertation by Jack F. Matlock, Jr.

1873

Запечатленный ангел ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by Beatrix L. Tollemache as “The Sealed Angel” in Russian Sketches, Chiefly of Peasant Life (1913)
Translated by K. A. Lantz as “The Sealed Angel” in The Sealed Angel and Other Stories (1984)
Translated by David McDuff as “The Sealed Angel” in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Other Stories (1987)
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “The Sealed Angel” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)

Очарованный странник ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by A. G. Paschkoff as The Enchanted Wanderer (1924)
Translated by David Magarshack as “The Enchanted Pilgrim” in The Enchanted Pilgrim and Other Stories (1946)
Translated by George H. Hanna as “The Enchanted Wanderer” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (1958)
Translated by David Magarshack as “The Enchanted Wanderer” in Selected Tales (1961)
Translated by Ian Dreiblatt as The Enchanted Wanderer (2012)
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “The Enchanted Wanderer” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)

1874

Захудалый род ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Titles used: “A Family in Decline” in Edgerton 1953, “A Decrepit Clan” in McLean 1977

Павлин ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Pavlin [The Peacock]

1875

Детские годы (= Блуждающие огоньки) ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Years of Childhood

На краю света ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by A. E. Chamot as “On the Edge of the World” in The Sentry and Other Stories (1922)
Translated by Michael Prokurat as On the Edge of the World (1992)
Other title used: “At the Edge of the World” in McLean 1977

1876

Железная воля ПСС 1956-58
Translated by David Magarshack as “Iron Will” in The Enchanted Pilgrim and Other Stories (1946)
Translated by Michael Shotton as “An Iron Will” in Five Tales (1984)

Пигмей ПСС 1902-03
The Pygmy

1877

Владычный суд ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Episcopal Justice

Бесстыдник ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by Michael Shotton as “A Shameless Rascal” in Five Tales (1984)
Other title used: “The Cynic” in McLean 1977

Некрещеный поп ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
The Unbaptized Priest

1878

Явление духа
An Apparition

Ракушанский меламед ПСС 1902-03
The Melamed of Österreich

1878-79

Мелочи архиерейской жизни ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Chapter 3 translated by William B. Edgerton as “The Archbishop and the Englishman” in Satirical Stories of Nikolai Leskov (1969)
Titles used for entire work: Trifles from the Life of Archbishops in Edgerton 1969, “The Little Things in a Bishop’s Life” in McLean 1977

Русское тайнобрачие ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Russian Cryptomatrimony

1879

Однодум ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by William B. Edgerton as “Singlethought” in Satirical Stories of Nikolai Leskov (1969)
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “Singlemind” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)
Other titles used: “The One-Track Mind” in Edgerton 1953, “The Monognome” in McLean 1977

Шерамур ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Sheramur

Чертогон ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by R. Norman as “The Devilchase” in The Musk-Ox and Other Tales (1944)
Translated by Michael Shotton as “Chasing Out the Devil” in Five Tales (1984)
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “The Devil-Chase” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)
Other title used: “Exorcism” in McLean 1977

Архиерейские объезды ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
A Bishop’s Rounds

1880

Епархиальный суд ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Diocesan Justice

Кадетский монастырь ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
The Cadet Monastery

Несмертельный Голован ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by David Magarshack as “Deathless Golovan” in The Enchanted Pilgrim and Other Stories (1946)
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “Deathless Golovan” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)

Белый орел ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by David Magarshack as “The White Eagle” in Selected Tales (1961)
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “The White Eagle” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)
Other title used: “White Eagle” in McLean 1977

Русский демократ в Польше ПСС 1902-03
A Russian Democrat in Poland

1881

Пламенная патриотка ПСС 1902-03
Translated by R. Norman as “A Flaming Patriot” in The Musk-Ox and Other Tales (1944)
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “A Flaming Patriot” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)

Христос в гостях у мужика
Christ Visits a Muzhik

Левша ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by Isabel F. Hapgood as The Steel Flea (1916)
Translated by Babette Deutsch and Avrahm Yarmolinsky as The Steel Flea (1943)
Translated by David Magarshack as “The Left-Handed Artificer” in The Enchanted Pilgrim and Other Stories (1946)
Translated by George H. Hanna as “Lefty” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (1958)
Translated by David Magarshack as “The Left-Handed Craftsman” in Selected Tales (1961)
Translated by Bernard Guilbert Guerney in A Bilingual Collection of Russian Short Stories, ed. Maurice Friedberg (1964)
Translated by William B. Edgerton as “The Steel Flea” in Satirical Stories of Nikolai Leskov (1969)
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “Lefty” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)
Other title used: “The Lefthander” in McLean 1977

Леон дворецкий сын ПСС 1956-58
Leon the Butler’s Son

Дух госпожи Жанлис ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by R. Norman as “The Spirit of Madame de Genlis” in The Musk-Ox and Other Tales (1944)
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “The Spirit of Madame de Genlis” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)
Other title used: “The Spirit of Mme Genlis” in McLean 1977

1882

Штопальщик ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by R. Norman as “The Clothes-Mender” in The Musk-Ox and Other Tales (1944)
Translated by Gleb and Mary Struve as “The Clothes-Mender” in Russian Stories/Русские рассказы: A Dual-Language Book (1961)
Other title used: “The Darner” in McLean 1977

Привидение в инженерном замке ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by K. A. Lantz as “An Apparition in the Engineer’s Castle” in The Sealed Angel and Other Stories (1984)
Other title used: “An Apparition in the Engineers’ Castle” in McLean 1977

Жидовская кувырколлегия ПСС 1902-03
Yid Somersault

Путешествие с нигилистом ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by William B. Edgerton as “A Journey with a Nihlist” in Satirical Stories of Nikolai Leskov (1969)

Райский змей
The Celestial Serpent

Борьба за преобладание (= Синодальные персоны)
A Struggle for Supremacy (= Personages of the Synod)

Бродяги духовного чина
Vagabonds of the Cloth

1883

Соколий перелет
Falcon Flight

Обман ПСС 1902-03
Translated by William B. Edgerton as “Deception” in Satirical Stories of Nikolai Leskov (1969)

Благоразумный разбойник
The Sensible Robber

Неразменный рубль ПСС 1902-03
The Magic Ruble

Печерские антики ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Pechersk Eccentrics

Тупейный художник ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by A. E. Chamot as “The Toupee Artist” in The Sentry and Other Stories (1922)
Translated by David Magarshack as “The Make-Up Artist” in The Enchanted Pilgrim and Other Stories (1946)
Translated by George H. Hanna as “The Make-Up Artist” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (1958)
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “The Toupee Artist” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)

Голос природы ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
The Voice of Nature

Маленькая ошибка ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by David Magarshack as “A Little Mistake” in The Amazon and Other Stories (1949)
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “A Little Mistake” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)

Зверь ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by Guy Daniels as The Wild Beast (1968)

Синодальный философ
Philosopher of the Synod

Сеничкин яд
Senichka’s Poison

Случай у Спаса на Наливках (= Поповская чехарда и приходская прихоть)
An Adventure at the Church of the Savior in Nalivki (= Priestly Leapfrog and Parish Caprice)

1884

Новозаветный евреи
New Testament Jews

Загадочное происшествие в сумасшедшем доме ПСС 1902-03
An Enigmatic Event in a Madhouse

Отборное зерно ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by William B. Edgerton as “Choice Grain” in Satirical Stories of Nikolai Leskov (1969)

Заметки неизвестного (see also О петухе и о его детях under 1917) ПСС 1956-58
Translated by William B. Edgerton as “Notes from an Unknown Hand” in Satirical Stories of Nikolai Leskov (1969)
Other title used: “Notes in an Unknown Hand” in McLean 1977

Старый гений ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by George H. Hanna as “The Old Genius” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (1958)

Совместители ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
The Co-functionaries

Два свинопаса
Two Swineherds

Пагубники
The Debauchers

Безграничная доброта
Unlimited Goodness

Дремотные воспоминания на деле Сарры Беккер
Sleepy Memories at the Trial of Sarah Becker

Незаметный след
A Faint Trace

1885

Александрит ПСС 1902-03
Translated by R. Norman as “The Alexandrite” in The Musk-Ox and Other Tales (1944)

Жемчужное ожерелье ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “The Pearl Necklace” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)
Other title used: “Pearl Necklace” in McLean 1977

Старинные психопаты ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Ancient Psychopaths

Пугало ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “The Spook” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)
Other titles used: “The Scarecrow” in Edgerton 1953, “The Bugbear” in McLean 1977

Интересные мужчины ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Interesting Men

Таинственные предвестия ПСС 1902-03
Mysterious Omens

1886

Алеутский духовидец
An Aleutian Clairvoyant

Уха без рыбы
Translated by William B. Edgerton as “Fish Soup without Fish” in Satirical Stories of Nikolai Leskov (1969)

Повесть о богоугодном дровоколе ПСС 1902-03
The Tale of the God-Favored Woodcutter

Повесть о Федоре-христианине и о друге его Абраме-жидовине ПСС 1902-03
The Tale of Theodore the Christian and His Friend Abraham the Hebrew

1887

Домашняя челядь ПСС 1902-03
Domestic Bondmen

Скоморох Памфалон ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by David McDuff as “Pamphalon the Entertainer” in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Other Stories (1987)
Other titles used: “Pamphalon the Clown” in Edgerton 1953, “Pamphalon the Mountebank” in McLean 1977

Человек на часах ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by A. E. Chamot as “The Sentry” in The Sentry and Other Stories (1922)
Translated by George H. Hanna as “The Sentry” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (1958)
Translated by David Magarshack as “The Sentry” in Selected Tales (1961)
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “The Man on Watch” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)

Грабеж ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by K. A. Lantz as “A Robbery” in The Sealed Angel and Other Stories (1984)
Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky as “A Robbery” in The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories (2013)

Инженеры-бессребреники ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
The Unmercenary Engineers

1888

Легенда о совестном Даниле ПСС 1902-03
The Legend of Conscience-Stricken Daniel

Прекрасная Аза ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
The Beauteous Aza

Лев старца Герасима ПСС 1902-03
The Elder Jerome’s Lion

Умершее сословие ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
The Dead Estate

Колыванский муж ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Kolyvan Husband

Антука ПСС 1902-03
Antukà

1889

Аскалонский злодей ПСС 1902-03
The Felon of Ashkelon

Фигура ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by William B. Edgerton as “Figúra” in Satirical Stories of Nikolai Leskov (1969)
Other title used: “Figura” in McLean 1977

1890

Томленье духа ПСС 1902-03
Titles used: “Anguish of Spirit” in Edgerton 1953, “Vexation of Spirit” in McLean 1977

Гора ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by K. A. Lantz as “The Mountain” in The Sealed Angel and Other Stories (1984)

Чертовы куклы ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
The Devil’s Puppets

Час воли Божией ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
The Hour of God’s Will

Под Рождество обидели
Offended before Christmas

1891

Невинный Пруденций ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Innocent Prudentius

Полунощники ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by Hugh McLean as “Night Owls” in Satirical Stories of Nikolai Leskov (1969)

Дурачок ПСС 1902-03
The Little Fool

1892

Юдоль ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by James Y. Muckle as “Vale of Tears” in Vale of Tears and On Quakeresses (1991)

О “квакереях” ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by James Y. Muckle as “On Quakeresses” in Vale of Tears and On Quakeresses (1991)

Импровизаторы ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
The Improvisers

Легендарные характеры ПСС 1902-03
Legendary Characters

1893

Сибирские картинки XVIII века ПСС 1902-03
Siberian Scenes of the Eighteenth Century

Продукт природы ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by Hugh McLean as “A Product of Nature” in Satirical Stories of Nikolai Leskov (1969)

Пустоплясы ПСС 1902-03
The Pustoplyasians

Загон ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by K. A. Lantz as “The Cattle Pen” in The Sealed Angel and Other Stories (1984)

1894

Вдохновенные бродяги ПСС 1902-03
Inspired Vagabonds

Сошествие во ад ПСС 1902-03
Descent into Hell

Зимний день ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Translated by William B. Edgerton as “A Winter Day” in Satirical Stories of Nikolai Leskov (1969)
Translated by David McDuff as “A Winter’s Day” in Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Other Stories (1987)

Дама и фефела ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
The Lady and the Wench

1899

По поводу “Крейцеровой сонаты” ПСС 1902-03; ПСС 1956-58
Concerning “The Kreutzer Sonata”

1903

Брамадата и Радован ПСС 1902-03
Brahmadatta and Radovan

Маланья — голова баранья ПСС 1902-03
Malanya Muttonhead

1917

О петухе и о его детях (part of the series of Заметки неизвестного that could not be published in 1884) ПСС 1956-58
Translated by William B. Edgerton as “About the Rooster and His Children” in Satirical Stories of Nikolai Leskov (1969)

Заячий ремиз ПСС 1956-58
Translated by David Magarshack as “The March Hare” in The Amazon and Other Stories (1949)
Other titles used: “The Hare Park” in Mirsky 1926-27, “The Rabbit Warren” in McLean 1977, “The Rabbit Carriage” in Sperrle 2002

Оскорбленная Нетэта
Insulted Neteta

1924

Амур в лапоточках
Amour in Bast Shoes

1934

Административная грация ПСС 1956-58
Translated by William B. Edgerton as “Administrative Grace” in Satirical Stories of Nikolai Leskov (1969)

Дикая фантазия
A Wild Fantasy

1957

Темняк (Ранняя редакция рассказа “На краю света”) ПСС 1956-58
Man of Darkness

1958

Справедливый человек ПСС 1956-58
A Just Man

Editions of Leskov’s works

Table of contents and index for the 36-volume collected works of 1902-03
Index for the 11-volume collected works of 1956-68
Find the 6-volume collected works of 1993, edited by Lev Anninskii, at a library
Find the 30-volume collected works begun in 1996 and still in progress, which includes previously uncollected nonfiction, at a library

 

Revising “The Musk-Ox”

October 27, 2014

The old idea of Leskov’s “sick talent” — that in his early works he was so angry at the radicals that it got in the way of his art — doesn’t explain everything, but there’s something in it.

You might expect that if Leskov revised an 1860s story late in his life, he would make the nihilist characters more appealing. He did sometimes bring an earlier work in line with his later thinking, as by inserting Tolstoyan ideas into “A Family in Decline” (Захудалый род, 1874; see Edgerton 529n25).

But James Muckle finds the opposite trend in “The Musk-Ox” (Овцебык, written 1862, published 1863, revised 1867 and 1890). The main character of that story, Vasilii Petrovich Bogoslovskii (who looks like a certain picture of a musk-ox), is a complicated virtuous eccentric who doesn’t quite fit in the everyday world, and he’s often classified as one of Leskov’s heroic, idealistic revolutionaries. But Muckle shows that “the 1863 Musk-ox is a slightly more sympathetic study in character, while the 1890 Musk-ox is a rather more stark embodiment of certain ideas” (359, and see also 355-59). The 1890 Bogoslovskii feels more antipathy for the Russian Orthodox clergy and the wealthy than the 1863 one.

Overall Muckle finds that

The style of the 1890 edition is tighter than the reader expects from Leskov in the early 1860s. Leskov’s was a vivid and variegated genius, but the 1890 version, while still being lively and colorful, is disciplined and controlled. Characters, incidents, and anecdotes do not occur in quite such wild profusion as in the earlier versions or in some of the other works of the sixties. In the last edition gossipy digressions and sententious sermonizing are curtailed, while interesting side-issues are still explored to some extent. (359)

Other changes Muckle finds: The author’s nostalgia for his youth appears to increase as he gets farther from it: a time from the narrator’s boyhood is qualified веселое in 1863, милое, милое in 1867, and беззаботное, милое plus an additional sentence-long outburst in 1890 (353). Passages that show “the spirit of Russian patriotism (linked with a tendency to belittle foreigners)” are cut or toned down in successive editions (353-54). A priest who talks to a young Jewish boy who has been conscripted into the Russian army becomes less sympathetic in 1890 (354-55). Minor characters are removed or made even more minor (355).

On the whole it seems as if the 1890 Leskov’s desire to make the story “disciplined and controlled” changed Bogoslovskii more than Leskov’s waning anger did. Maybe making the musk-ox into a “stark embodiment of certain ideas” served the same purpose as pushing the minor characters in the background.

See James Y. Muckle, “The Author As Editor: Leskov’s ‘The Musk-Ox,’” Slavic and East European Journal 24.4 (1980): 349-61.

Links

October 22, 2014
  • Satiricon (Сатирикон) for 1908, 1909, and 1913 is now available online, and so are other satirical journals from the early twentieth century (h/t seminarist).
  • C. P. Lesley interviews Oliver Ready about his translation of Before & During (2014; Russian original, 1993) by Vladimir Sharov.
  • I loved this Russian Dinosaur post about a twentieth-century writer who was “a friend of Bunin, one of the beneficiaries of the latter’s Nobel Prize money and also his publicly advocated favourite for the next Nobel award,” “one of the four bestselling émigré writers in inter-war France,” and “the most important Russian author of realist historical prose since Tolstoy, according to his leading critic, C. Nicholas Lee.”
  • A 2007 post with two translations of untitled Tsvetaeva lyrics by Ekaterina Rogalsky, via Languagehat.
  • Be sure to read the Argumentative Old Git on Sologub’s The Petty Demon (Мелкий бес, written beginning in the 1890s, published 1905-07). I was surprised to learn that “Ronald Wilks, perhaps rather confusingly, [translates] nedotykomka as ‘the little demon’ of the title.”
  • The AOG is also rereading Turgenev, and writes about the dramatic qualities of Rudin (Рудин, published 1856): “when, having introduced Rudin as a character, Turgenev wants to tell us something of his past, instead of giving us a flashback, as might have been expected, he gives us a long narrative speech from someone who had known him earlier – exactly as he would have done had he been writing a play.”
  • On the other hand, Tom of Wuthering Expectations thinks “Turgenev had the bad habit of introducing characters with long, instantly forgotten descriptions, as if he were writing not a story but a play.” This is more or less the exact opposite way of making prose like a play. But the descriptions are not to be forgotten in “A King Lear of the Steppes” (Степной король Лир, 1870).
  • Languagehat’s latest foray into Vel’tman (the comments and the post are both delightful) includes a link explaining the Palladius system for rendering Chinese characters in the Russian alphabet (the syllable hui doesn’t follow the general system for reasons of taboo avoidance). There’s also a passage in Vel’tman with some deliberately and amusingly distorted Moscow geography.
  • Another LH post where you’ll want to read the comments too is on folkloric elements in the Russian chronicles. And while you’re there, read Afanasy Nikitin’s languages. I learned from a John Cowan comment to that last post that Hebrew Elohim ‘the Lord’ is morphologically plural, and its singular form Eloah is cognate with Arabic Allah.
  • Which leads naturally to “biblical vine-growers at a corporate event schmoozing up to their ultimate shareholder, God.”

“…that promised land of the Great Russian serf”

October 19, 2014

Near the beginning of The Bypassed (Обойденные, 1865), Leskov writes a chapter exposing the horrors of now-abolished slavery. This isn’t unique for early Leskov — slaves are made to fight in a story told in Cathedral Folk (Соборяне, 1867-72) — but the story of Prince Aggei Lukich Surskii in The Bypassed is as intense as the much later “Toupee Artist” (Тупейный художник, 1883) and “Ancient Psychopaths” (Старинные психопаты, 1885).* Surskii, a polished and ambitious aging aristocrat whose fingernails are often mentioned, suffers a reversal of fortune and has to retire to his estate, where he becomes a tyrant.

Leskov’s rhetoric escalates: horrors become more detailed, less expected, and closer to home for non-peasant readers. First we hear Surskii gave out lash-strokes to his slaves by the hundreds, and we’re appalled, but hardly surprised. Slaves are driven to suicide because they can’t stand the physical pain. A woman landowner brings her coachman so Surskii, as a locally renowned disciplinarian, can beat him as an example to her other slaves. Surskii has him whipped. Then he has her, the landowner, whipped. He has a French governess whipped, though she holds a knife to her throat. He tries to have an “American Yankee” overseer beaten, but the American escapes brandishing two loaded pistols. This enrages Surskii so much that, while having everyone who let the American escape whipped, he has a “fatal attack of apoplexy.” (See part 1, chapter 2, especially pp. 11-16.) Surskii is like Vishnevskii in “Ancient Psychopaths”: besides their slaves, both get away with having people beaten over whom they have no legal power. Both have at least one biological child among their slaves.

But that isn’t why I started this post. Surskii considers no one worthy to be his son’s godfather, but even the terrified and paid-off local priest won’t let him be godfather to his own son, so he forces a random peasant to be godfather, then gives him money and freedom papers and sends his family away:

The prince’s orders were executed with precision. The family of the newborn princelet’s accidental sponsor — wailing quietly and sorrowfully lamenting, and mourned by their relatives by blood and marriage — left their native village a day later on shaggy horses they had raised themselves. Pursued by a terrible apparition of the fearsome prince, they started off from their native trans-Volga steppes far, far away to flourishing trans-Dnieper Ukraine, that promised land of the Great Russian serf [крепостной] fleeing his sad, sad life. (12)

The “promised land” image makes me think of how the Pharaoh-Moses-out of Egypt-mountaintop-promised land allegory has been used about American slavery and its aftermath. But what kind of promised land was trans-Dnieper Ukraine for Leskov’s narrator or “the Great Russian serf”? I don’t think it meant acquiring a new legal status by leaving the Russian Empire for the Habsburg Empire — as far as I can tell, “trans-Dnieper Ukraine” meant Russian-controlled central Ukraine, not modern-day western Ukraine around Lviv (then Lemberg).

I’m still getting my bearings in the novel, but I think Surskii moves to his estate after either 1796 or 1801. Maybe at this time Russian peasants remembered a partially historical, partially legendary chaotic borderland of Cossack freedom. At the same time, maybe there’s supposed to be dramatic irony, with the narrator (and, he assumes, the reader) believing that the serfs were incorrect about their promised land, and that landowners from the former Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth were even more tyrannical than Russian ones (cf. Leskov’s brutal Vishnevskii or Nekrasov’s Pan Glukhovskii from “On Two Great Sinners” [О двух великих грешниках]). I’m honestly not sure, and I’m probably overthinking it. Do any of you know exactly what made trans-Dnieper Ukraine a promised land for serfs in the eyes of an 1865 reading public or the serfs of several decades earlier?

* I’m reading a 1902 edition of The Bypassed, and I hereby make a note to myself to check if the Prince Surskii story was the same in 1865 or was revised near the time of those 1880s stories.

Leskov, ethnographer of the Jews

October 14, 2014

Some time ago I was looking at the word кагал and portrayals of Jews in Leskov’s “Episcopal Justice” (Владычный суд, 1877) and “Yid Somersault” (“Жидовская кувырколлегия,” 1882). I’ve just read an article by Gabriella Safran that tries to get at Leskov’s ideas about Jews through “a series of twenty articles on Judaism and Jewish rituals” that Leskov published in 1880, 1881, and 1884. Where did Leskov learn so much (sometimes inaccurate) specific information about holidays, prayers, rituals, and legends?

He appears to have taken the first drafts of his pieces in their entirety from a single book, Obriady evreiskie [Rituals of the Jews], that was published in 1830 in Orel, Leskov’s home town. It was edited by a person who was not the writer and who sometimes contradicted the writer in the footnotes. It may have been translated into Russian from German or Latin by a person with some knowledge of Hebrew and of Judaism who added the notes. The book contains twenty-seven chapters, the first sixteen of which cover precisely the same topics as Leskov’s articles, in the same order. (241-42, link added)

“In the same order,” even! But since Leskov is Leskov, the story doesn’t end with this unmasking of plagiarism; instead, it’s worth going into how Leskov did or didn’t follow his source material.

There are a lot of contexts for Safran to consider. The 1830 book was unflattering to Jews and full of inaccuracies, but, Safran thinks, it may have been a response to the more anti-Jewish 1828 book Обряды жидовские (Rituals of the Yids); responding to the 1828 book’s allegations that Jews were dangerous, the 1830 book claims they are harmless and silly (242). Leskov may have been staking out an analogous position in the 1880 incarnation of the debate: as others ask “do they threaten us or not?” he replies that their traditions are interesting and quaint (242-43).

From the first articles to the last, Leskov’s position seems to grow less anti-Jewish. It’s hard to tell, though: he promised to be hostile to the Jews when trying to sell the series of articles to Aleksei Suvorin (who, by the end of the 1870s, “was known as an outspoken judeophobe”), and the first four articles may have been calculated to please Suvorin or edited to be more anti-Jewish by Suvorin’s staff (237-39, 244). Safran also writes that “Leskov consciously battled his own judeophobic tendencies throughout his life, and especially in the 1880s,” and notes that as “judeophobic voices sounded especially loudly in the Russian press” in the wake of the 1881-82 pogroms, Leskov, always swimming against the current, moved away from judeophobia (as did Mikhail Saltykov-Shchedrin at the same time, 244-45).

Safran compares Leskov’s articles on the Jews to two distinct nineteenth-century traditions, Victorian anthropology and Russian ethnography. In England and Western Europe, anthropologists looked at a distant other and implicitly tried “to demonstrate that the group they described was less ‘civilized’ than the one doing the describing.” Meanwhile Russian ethnographers looked inward, seeking an understanding of what made “the Russian people [...] unique” in a “nonjudgmental and descriptive” way, and were “concerned more with amassing data on the peasants’ beliefs, language, and folklore than with measuring skulls or determining whether all humans possess the same genetic heritage” (243-44). Leskov was like the Victorian anthropologists when he followed the 1830 book he was cribbing his articles from, and like the nonjudgmental Russian ethnographers when he expanded and embroidered on his source (244).

Even though in 1880s Russia “most non-Jews saw Judaism as an excessively formal religion, a perfect example of the ritualism that Tolstoy and his followers criticized,” Leskov couldn’t help becoming more sympathetic to Judaism as he immersed himself in rituals and legends. Safran draws a parallel between Leskov’s failure to condemn Jewish formal ritualism and his “only somewhat successful” efforts to transform stories from the Prolog (“an ancient collection of saints’ lives, sermons, and didactic tales”) so that they would “draw in the simple reader with their canonical plots, but then reveal the falsity of a Christianity based on formal observance of rituals and show the superiority of good deeds to traditional rites” (248). Leskov’s need to embroider everything he wrote instead of hacking it down to a rational minimalist kernel showed that “in the end, Leskov was more interested in the details of culture than in the heights of a noble philosophy, more compelled by the lure of an exotic vision than the arguments for a rational religion” (248). Jewish legends, such as one about the dead being thirsty and drinking out of ponds (246),  were so important to Leskov that he argued with Jewish correspondents about whether contemporary assimilated Jews believed in them — Leskov insisted they did, even if they wouldn’t admit it (249).

One more Jewish/Christian parallel that reveals a general pattern in Leskov’s worldview: Leskov contrasted the “Westernized brand of Judaism” of the St. Petersburg Choral Synagogue — where by 1884 he knew some actual Jewish people (245) — to the “authentic folk culture” of a large synagogue on Pod’iacheskaia Street, calling the second group “Jewish Old Believers [starovery]” (249-50).

See Gabriella Safran, “Ethnography, Judaism, and the Art of Nikolai Leskov,” The Russian Review 59 (2000): 235-51.

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