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April 11, 2014
  • Shalamov thought it was impossibly hard to describe the loss of language people undergo in a labor camp without using the language he’d since regained. Sarah J. Young compares this to FrankensteinDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and The Call of Cthulhu.
  • I’m not sure which I enjoy more, when Languagehat writes about something I’ve read or someone I’ve never heard of. As he gets to mid-century in his march through Russian prose, I expect there’ll be more of the former, like this excellent post on Dostoevskii’s Poor Folk (Бедные люди, 1846), with many good serious and unserious comments. There’s quite a bit on the opening lines of Notes from Underground (Записки из подполья, 1864) and Michael Katz’s article on how to translate them. I haven’t checked how different translators handle the repeated стало быть in Poor Folk, but I wonder if “must have” could be repeated more naturally than “therefore.”
  • Translation comparison: Bulgakov’s The White Guard (Белая гвардия, 1924) and his letters and diaries. The comparing is done by Russian Dinosaur, and the translating by Roger Cockrell, Michael Glenny, Marian Schwartz, and Julie Curtis.
  • Lizok has The White Guard on her “up next” list, but for now see her review of Aleksei Motorov’s Male Nurse Parovozov’s Young Years (Юные годы медбрата Паровозова): “the heaviest lifting here was picking up the book itself, which weighs in at over 500 pages, though I’m certainly not complaining: Parovozov‘s first-person narrator is engagingly genial and his stories generally held my attention.”
  • I enjoyed seeing Merezhkovskii on Obooki’s confessional list of authors never read, “to represent all foreign literature which is neglected by English-speakers due to habitual incuriosity, ignorance or occlusion beneath the shadow of Kafka.”


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