1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution

1917 - Cover.jpg

Pushkin Press (December, 2016)

Amazon US / UK

Russian Texts of the Poems

“In this anthology, Boris Dralyuk attempts a bold thing: to confirm us within the belly of the beast, to push us up against its heartbeat, all the while challenging the received notion that the Russian Revolution produced little literary art of lasting value in its early years. … The entries in 1917, all well translated and some brilliantly so, are revolutionary not so much in their form (difficult to convey in English, which has nothing like the Russian language’s sensitivity to a departure from poetic tradition) as in their impatience with the processes of time… Dralyuk has assembled a high-pressure book of crisis writings by authors caught strutting as actors on the world stage. His backstories and biographies permit the reader to relax in the interstices between texts, reassured that each witness had an entrance, an exit, and played many parts — even though this book is confined to showing only one of those parts in only one of each actor’s seven ages.” — Caryl Emerson, Times Literary Supplement (TLS)

“A revolutionary book for revolutionary times. To some readers the moments of mayhem evoked in 1917, a brilliant new anthology, might seem strangely familiar. The sense of a world turned upside down, of peering into a sudden, vertiginous abyss, of violently divergent views and wildly differing predictions. One hundred years after the Russian Revolution this collection feels twice as timely.” — Phoebe Taplin, Russia Beyond the Headlines

“A broad and erudite collection… The works and fates of these authors create an image of hope and despair, struggle and exile, triumph and death. Even as the revolution devoured its own writers, they remained its chroniclers. A century on, their writings — some revisited, some resurrected in this collection — can be read as historical documents, but also for their sheer literary value. The best of them bear a mark of the process described by Kuzmin: ‘Tough sandpaper has polished all our words.’” — Anna Aslanyan, Financial Times [Alt.]

“[The ambiguities of the period] are magnificently evidenced in 1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution, which is one of the real gems among the centenary books. Half poetry and half prose, the anthology presents Russian writers’ reactions to the early years of revolution, from February 1917 until the ascendency of the Red Army over the Whites in late 1919. Arranging the works thematically and detailing the revolution’s impact on the authors’ lives, Boris Dralyuk assembles a potent blend of novelty, utopianism and eschatology.” — Roland Elliott Brown, The Spectator

1917: Stories and Poems From the Russian Revolution showcases the brutality and uncertainty that reigned as an old regime was dismantled and a new order established. So strong are the voices collected here that their words have the power to shock and stir a century on. … This riveting collection catches them on the cusp of change, on the brink of darkness, when they were free to so brilliantly catalog the turbulence around them.” — Malcolm Forbes, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“In a good literary year, 1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution stood out as my favourite… Selected and introduced by Boris Dralyuk, the works strike different poses… Reading 1917 is like walking into a warzone: people are still reacting to what’s just happened; history hasn’t been written yet. However, this isn’t a book of firsthand accounts; instead, there’s an enticing aesthetic distancing from the horror and appeal of revolution. All of Dralyuk’s selected authors are thinking, feeling and creating human beings… Heart-on-sleeve Russian writing: beautiful and searching, if often melancholy. There’s nothing quite like it.” — André van Loon, Review 31 (Best of 2016)

“Neatly chosen by Boris Dralyuk, with room for the familiar (such as Boris Pasternak) and those known less well (the sardonic Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya, who wrote as Teffi), the volume is reasonably well balanced between the October revolution’s supporters and those appalled by it. … History made fools of the cheerleaders of revolution, but the words of those who opposed it still haunt.” — Andrew Stuttaford, The Wall Street Journal

1917, a collection of stories and poems, illustrates the fluidity of thought among Russian writers between February 1917 and late 1919… During the period covered by this collection, literature was unpredictable; troubled by events in the wider world but definitely unpredictable.” — Bob Cant, Scottish Review

1917 allows us to examine the poetry and fiction of that tumultuous year… Some of the work is translated by Dralyuk, but not all of it. This makes the book even more enjoyable, as we derive a sense of variance from the poems. At the same time, Dralyuk’s ability to find rhymes and slant rhymes in English for Russian poems is exciting… Throughout this book, Dralyuk explains and characterizes the shifts, often drastic shifts, and even upheavals, that temporarily or permanently affected Russian/Soviet poets and prose writers… The stories run a gamut from humorous to playful to satirical to stark and painful. Russian literature is one of the great bounties of the world.” — Kelly Cherry, American Book Review

“A captivating collection of poetry and prose from the revolutionary year.” — China Miéville in October: The Story of the Russian Revolution

“Sometimes a book comes along that you just know is going to be perfect for you… Expertly collected (and often translated) by Boris Dralyuk… 1917 was an entirely absorbing, moving and exceptional read, and it’s definitely going to be high on my list of books of the year.” — Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings

“One of the important aspects of this collection is that these pieces were not written with hindsight; they were written at a very specific moment of history, capturing the transient feelings of those times. Not only does this collection gather together the most important creative voices of the period, but each section gives a short bio of the writers — along with their fate (so few lived to old age).” — His Futile Preoccupations

“The pieces are organized thematically — and what themes! The first section titled ‘Stolen Wine,’ is about the looting and destruction, by smashing or glugging, of wine cellars, some of them massively valuable. A narrow concern, I first thought, but it was a live political issue, an action filled with symbolic meaning — what is the Revolution doing; what is it for? … In a Tsvetaeva or Mandelstam collection, I doubt the wine would stand out, but six poems in a row make the point. And then the image, the issue, recurs throughout the book, as in [Blok’s The Twelve]. Clever; useful.” — Wuthering Expectations

1917 asks a very clever question: instead of looking at the Russian revolution with the benefit of hindsight, why not look to it as it appeared to the artists of the time? Russia’s poets and writers took part in the revolutionary struggle, both for it and against. They wrote their praise, their condemnation, their fears and doubts. They didn’t know what would follow. That uncertainty gives this collection of poems and prose, all selected by editor and translator Boris Dralyuk, an extraordinary immediacy… It would be hard to praise this collection too highly… It’s well compiled, well researched, interesting and ever-readable.” — Pechorin’s Journal