Russian Short Stories (1918 – 1941)

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Τitle: Ανθολογία ρωσικού διηγήματος του μεσοπολέμου

Writer: Various (selected and translated by Tania Rahmatoulina

Publishing House: Πλέθρον

Date of Publication: December 2005

Rating: 5 stars

*All extracts translated by me, taken from the original edition translated by Tania Rahmatoulina*

‘’All beauty in this world was born out of the love for a woman.’’

During the turbulent years in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution, the genre of the Short Story took in a monumental turn in Russia. Always the birthplace of masterpieces, a plethora of novelists and poets, prompted by the atrocious prosecutions by Stalin against the intellectuals who refused to bow to his twisted version of Democracy, used the power of their pen to condemn a State that started as a liberator and ended up being the worst of oppressors.

From 1918 to 1941, the writers who voiced their protest against the regime created stories that hit the nail on the head, exposing a tormented reality that had no relation to the ideals that led the people to rebel against the Tsars. Many of them were exiled, others were led to poverty and starvation. And some were executed. Nothing surprising for those of us who know a thing or two about the monster that answered to the name of Stalin. This collection presents 32 writers and 60 stories populated by rebels and impoverished aristocrats, intellectuals and workers, women who thought that prostitution would save them from poverty. Children lost in a mad world. Feelings violently thwarted by terror.

‘’In the pitiful, cursed yards, the night is falling. The gardens are dark now. Night rushes to drown the meagre, like a sparrow, day that disappears. Now, loud steps can be heard.’’

‘’Hearts burning like wildfires in the night, in the depths of the steppe. They exact their revenge for the meek, the broken, the ones who struggle to hide. For their burnt village or the murdered friend or just the wind, the cursed wind in which they are forced to come and go, to sleep, to kill…’’

‘’In the graveyard, over the pile of fresh soil, a new cross rises, made of oak. Secure, heavy, smooth.

 April, the days are grey. The graves of the spacious country graveyard can be seen from afar, through the naked trees and the cold air is whistling relentlessly, blowing through the porcelain wreath of the cross.

On the cross, a necklace is curved.’’

Maxim Gorky, Alexander Serafimovich, Yevgeny Zamyatin, Mikhail Zoshchenko, Valentin Kataev, Isaac Babel, Mikhail Bulgakov, Ivan Kataev, Vladimir Nabokov, Marina Tsvetaeva are only a few of the Russian masters included in this anthology. 

‘’At night, vicious black clouds gathered over the mountains and the wild storms began. An enchanting green abyss tore the loud blackness of the forest, and the sky above was on fire, through thunder and lightning. The eagles woke and cried, the panthers and the jackals screamed…’’

*H μετάφραση μέτρια προς αδιάφορη. Λέξεις όπως ‘’τσιτάτα’’ είναι τουλάχιστον άστοχες. Η Κύπρια (κι όχι Ρωσίδα) ‘’μεταφράστρια’’ ίσως θα έπρεπε να γνωρίζει ότι η πόλη της ΑΓΙΑΣ Πετρούπολης λέγεται ακριβώς έτσι: ΑΓΙΑ Πετρούπολη κι όχι ‘’Πετρούπολη’’. Σιγά μην είναι και Περιστέρι. Προς ενημέρωση σας, κυρία μου, και για να μορφωθείτε και λιγάκι πριν μεταφράσετε (αποτυχημένα) κι άλλο βιβλίο, πόλη με το όνομα Petersburg υπάρχει στην Virginia των Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών. Ο αθεϊσμός και οι πολιτικές πεποιθήσεις του καθενός ποσώς με ενδιαφέρουν. Δικό σας πρόβλημα. Όταν όμως απευθύνεσται σε ευρύ κοινό να είστε περισσότερο προσεκτική. Δουλεύετε με βάση την προπαγάνδα ή την αγάπη στη Λογοτεχνία; Η απάντηση είναι ξεκάθαρη.

Λίγος σεβασμός δεν βλάπτει, κυρίες και κύριοι ‘’μεταφραστές’’. Τα υπόλοιπα είναι προς κατανάλωση στις εφημερίδες σας και στο κοινό στο οποίο προφανώς κι απευθύνεστε. Του οποίου η ιστορική και θρησκευτική μόρφωση μάλλον χωλαίνει…*

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Sounds like a wonderful anthology – some great writers there!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Akylina says:

    Sounds like an utterly fascinating collection, and it’s such a pity that the translation is not up to par :/ I often get the impression that some Greek translators just don’t really care if their text will read smoothly afterwards, as long as they just put the book out there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely agree! Sometimes I think it’s all about politics and a frightful lack of education…

      Liked by 1 person

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