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“The Old Man” is by…

July 25, 2016

Ol’ga N. wrote “The Old Man” in 1857. Here’s the original publication in Library for Reading. In the same issue you could read Benediktov, Avdeev, Mei, Maikov, Goncharov, Fet, and (in translation) Józef Ignacy Kraszewski.

Ol’ga N. was the pen name of Sof’ia Vladimirovna Engel’gardt, née Novosil’tseva (1828-1894). In French she spelled her name Sophie Engelhardt. I first learned about her from this Languagehat post. Another good place to read about her is Mary Zirin’s entry on her in the 1994 Dictionary of Russian Women Writers.

When I first read “The Old Man” almost two years ago, I found one of my favorite not-quite-new words: шаккендс. Halfway through the translation I was mystified that the WordPress algorithm for recommending posts seemed to know who the author was, and my earlier post on that word probably explains how it could.

By my count Engel’gardt wrote 55 or 60 works of short fiction, plus a play, memoirs, and a famous obituary of Shcherbina. In the e-book of “The Old Man” there will be a bibliography with links to about 20 works that I’ve found online — most of them in the journals they first appeared in via Google Books, but some on proza.ru thanks to recent republications by M. A. Biriukova.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 25, 2016 1:10 pm

    Oooh, I thought I knew who wrote it but I was completely wrong! But it’s better that it’s a lost woman writer. Look forward to seeing the ebook version!

    • July 25, 2016 3:40 pm

      I was really impressed when you said you’d found the author, since (except my obscure old post on a vocab word) I don’t think there’s much about this story on the internet in English! I’m glad it wasn’t too disappointing that the author is who she is.

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