Thursday, July 06, 2006

Russian place names

One of the books I bought for my birthday was the new edition of 'Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida', translated and edited by Robert Chandler. I was able to compare the translation of Gogol with an older translation and it is much more hip, trendy and easier to read. Altogether it seems to be quite a cool book.

I had never heard of Buida and Robert Chandler introduces each author quite well so I couldn't help laughing at one of the anecdotes. Buida is known as a surrealist writer. One story about him and about Russia is told about his mother:

"Buida has described how his mother, who had been brought up in Central Russia, first arrived in the region in 1947. Her train ticket bore the name of her destination: the town of Wehlau. She arrived, however to find workmen blanking out the name from signs in the station. That night she and two friends speculated as to how the town would be renamed. Her own suggestion, 'Somewhere', was dismissed as too definite, not Russian enough. Her friends suggested 'Sometime or other' or 'Any old how'. In the event, the town was called Znamensk, after the Russian for banner."


Anonymous said...

what an interesting book it must be - i'd be very curious to know more about it and about all the writers there are in it. There are many great russian writers indeed - btw i have read there was a novel that made Tchaïkovski very prouf of russian literature: "Ivan Illitch's death" ( in French it is "La mort d'Ivan Illitch", so I try to translate it ). I advise everyboddy to read it before dying too.
See you soon...

Igneos said...

Unfortunately this is a book that I have left in Peru my mistake. It has some great stories and the translations are excellent.