Piecemeal Zoshchenko, Felsen Retrouvé

Maya Vinokour, a wonderful scholar and translator, is adding a dash of suspense to my translation of Mikhail Zoshchenko’s Sentimental Tales by serializing the cycle’s four prefaces and the first story, “Apollo and Tamara,” on All the Russias’, the NYU Jordan Center’s always exciting blog for, well, all things Russian! The first two prefaces went up today. If you’re hankering to hear “the shrill strains of some pitiful flute,” head on over — and watch that space for more melancholy zaniness!

Sentimental Paperback.jpg

And for those in a sober mood, I’d like to recommend an important piece I was honored to publish in yesterday’s edition of LARB. Bryan Karetnyk, whose exquisite translations have helped rescue Gaito Gazdanov (1903-1971) from oblivion, is now hoping to do the same for Gazdanov’s fellow émigré Yuri Felsen (1894-1943). He featured Felsen’s prose in his superb anthology Russian Émigré Short Stories from Bunin to Yanovsky (2017), and he has now written a poignant essay on the life and art of this “Russian Proust.”

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6 thoughts on “Piecemeal Zoshchenko, Felsen Retrouvé

  1. Thanks for sharing (and indeed publishing!) this excellent piece. Bryan Karetnyk has done such wonderful work on Gazdanov (I’m a huge GG fan) and also with the short stories book. And the Felsen stories he featured in it were excellent – it’s so wonderful these authors are being rediscovered.

    As for the Zoshchenko, I’m currently reading (and loving!) it for a Shiny New Books review. The authorial digressions are a hoot, but there’s quite a lot of pathos lurking in there too. Excellent stuff! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kaggsy, you sure do know how to make a translator’s day… And with this comment you’ve brought 24 hours of joy to two translators! Bryan’s dedication to the literary legacy of Russian émigrés is inspiring. Let’s hope his latest piece helps convince a brave publisher to take a chance on Felsen.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad to see this, LH! We included Bryan’s translation of Felsen’s wonderful short story “A Miracle” in Cardinal Points, no. 7, and we’ll feature an excerpt from his translation of Deceit in no. 8. As to “Felsen,” he chose his pseudonym in emigration, knowing that his audience would understand its referent, and it appeared as “Felsen,” in Roman letters, during his lifetime, e.g., here. That gives some justification for the choice.


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