Rasputin and 1917

My review of Douglas Smith’s Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs, an engrossing biography that, like all great works in the genre, doubles as a portrait of its subject’s era, appeared in LARB on Wednesday, Nov. 23.

And today the Financial Times ran Anna Aslanyan’s marvelous assessment — the first in the major press — of my anthology 1917: Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution. I couldn’t have hoped for a more perceptive, appreciative critic than Aslanyan, who is a gifted translator in her own right. Anna focuses on James Womack’s translations of Mayakovsky’s poems, Peter France’s renditions of Aleksey Remizov’s and Vasily Rozanov’s experimental prose, Bryan Karetnyk’s version of Aleksandr Serfimovich’s “How He Died” (“a soldier’s tale tragic in its banality […] told in a language that is simple yet powerful”), and Rose France’s version of Mikhail Zoshchenko’s bitterly ironic article  “A Wonderful Audacity.” That gives me a great opportunity to thank these remarkable translators for their contributions to the volume. And while I’m at it, I’d also like to thank Josh Billings, Robert Chandler, Maria Bloshteyn, Michael Casper, Lisa Hayden, Martha Kelly, Donald Rayfield, and Margo Shohl Rosen.

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