Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Zoshchenko, a prelude

More links. Sean Lovelace of HTMLGiant writes on Mikhail Zoshchenko. I'm actually reading and writing on Zoshchenko myself at the moment, so I should be posting more on him later. 1920s in Soviet Russia was a time of rapid change and social turmoil, and the literature that reflects this time is quite rich. Zoshchenko -- a beloved writer by all generations since -- is one of the few authors from the period whose stories have been translated multiple times and continue to be translated. The problem -- an opportunity for translators -- is that his language is grounded in the colloquial idiom, analogues for which in another language are devilishly hard to find.

Coincidentally, Dave and I just watched a silent movie from the same era, entitled in English Bed and Sofa. The script for it was written by a Formalist literary and film theorist Viktor Shklovsky (who was friends with Zoshchenko at the time and together they belonged to a writer's group known as Serapion's Brothers). The movie was very controversial at the time, as it portrays a non-monogamous relationship between a married couple and their friend. One of the actors, Nicolai Batalov, is a very famous uncle of an even more famous post WWII Soviet actor, Alexei Batalov. The movie also features fascinating scenes of old "wooden" Moscow, a view from the Bolshoi Theatre on the old Kremlin, the wooden streets and houses, the old Cathedral of the Christ the Savior (Храм Христа Спасителя), before it was demolished in 1931 and then rebuilt again in the Putin times.

Completely unrelated: Genine Lentine, a San Francisco poet whom I admire very much, released a collection of poems, Mr. Worthington's Beautiful Experiments on Splashes. A poem from this collection was featured on Verse Daily.

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