Cardinal Points, vol. 9


I’ve just received my copy of this year’s volume of Cardinal Points, with its lovely autumnal cover. And, as always, we are very proud of the cornucopia beneath that cover. Among the treasures are Kevin Windle’s vivid, energetic translation of an excerpt from Russia Bathed in Blood (1927-28), an important novel by Artyom Vesyoly (1899-1938), with an eloquent and informative introduction by Windle and Elena Govor. (Windle also contributes an excellent translation of a chilling poem by Sergei Khmelnitsky, whose “reputation as a poet, resting on a slim collection of striking verse, has been overshadowed by his accomplishments in a different field, as a long-serving KGB informer and collaborator.”) Another Soviet-era discovery is “A Gypsy Caprice,” a dark story by Yuri Nagibin (1920-1994), gracefully translated by Clare Kitson. The darkness of those selections is balanced by a funny, humane story from the contemporary émigré author Vladimir Rabinovich, “Man is Book to Man,” which Yura Dashevsky renders with a light touch. And we are also thrilled to feature an essay by Alexander Nakhimovsky, which serves as a preview of his forthcoming study, The Language of Russian Peasants in the Twentieth Century: A Linguistic Analysis and Oral History. Essays by D. S. Likhachev (1906-1999), translated by Maurits Westbroek, and Tatyana Apraksina, translated by Patricia Walton and James Manteith, round out the prose, and Apraksina then leads us into an impressive and diverse poetry section, which includes a “personal anthology” of contemporary Russian verse selected and translated by Philip Nikolayev. Finally, in the “Art of Translation” section, Peter France introduces his exquisite versions of poems by one of Pushkin’s great contemporaries, Pyotr Vyazemsky (1792-1878), Teffi’s biographer Edythe Haber discusses her brilliant subject’s experiences with translation, and Siân Valvis offers a treat for readers of all ages, a verse rendition of the Slavic fairy tale “Kolobok.” Once again, I thank my indefatigable co-editor, Irina Mashinski, as well as Brown University’s Department of Slavic Studies. See here for volume 8 (2018), here for volume 7 (2017), and here for the journal’s website.


Artyom Vesyoly, “Bitter Hangover”: Excerpts from Russia Bathed in Blood (trans. from the Russian by Kevin Windle, introduced by Windle and Elena Govor)
Yuri Nagibin, “A Gypsy Caprice” (trans. from the Russian by Clare Kitson)
Vladimir Rabinovich, “Man is Book to Man” (trans. from the Russian by Yura Dashevsky)


Alexander Nakhimovsky, “Peasant Letters as Background to Russian Literature
D. S. Likhachev, A Selection from Letters on the Good and the Beautiful (trans. from the Russian by Maurits Westbroek)
Tatyana Apraksina, “The Praxiteles Syndrome” (trans. from the Russian by Patricia Walton and James Manteith)


Tatyana Apraksina, Three Poems (trans. from the Russian by James Manteith)
Alexander M. Gorodnitsky, “Sailor, Tie Your Knots a Little Tighter” (trans. from the Russian by Zina Deretsky)
Osip Mandelstam, “Sisters – Heaviness, Tenderness” (trans. from the Russian by Yevgeniy Sokolovsky)
Anna Prismanova, Two Poems (trans. from the Russian by Nora Moseman)
Genrikh Sapgir, Four “Sonnets on Shirts” (trans. from the Russian by Dmitri Manin)
Taras Shevchenko, “Young Masters” (trans. from the Ukrainian by Anatoly Belilovsky)

Contemporary Russian Poetry: A Personal Anthology
Selected and Translated by Philip Nikolayev

Evgeny Khorvat, Oleg Dozmorov, Timur Kibirov, Dennis Novikov, Igor Bozhko, Sergey Gandlevsky, Sergey Kutanin, Andrey Toropov, Alexander Kabanov, Yuly Gugolev, Alexey Alexandrov, Tatyana Shcherbina, and Olga Chugai

The Art of Translation

Edythe Haber, “Teffi: Translator and Translated”
Peter France, “Pyotr Vyazemsky: Three Youthful Epigrams, and Poems of Gloomy Old Age”
Siân Valvis, “Isn’t that a Splendid Song: On Rolling ‘Kolobok’ into English Verse”
Kevin Windle, “Sergei Khmelnitsky: Tantamount to Death

8 thoughts on “Cardinal Points, vol. 9

    1. Kevin’s translation of the entire novel will (I think) appear from Anthem Press in the not-too-distant future! And I see your point about “bathed” vs. “washed.” The latter has good KJV associations: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5). In OCS, that passage reads: “любящу ны и омывшу нас от грех наших Кровию Своею.” And then there’s that great hymn, “Have you been to Jesus for the cleansing power?” The memorable refrain — “Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?” — always puts me in mind of Vachel Lindsay’s “General William Booth Enters into Heaven.”

      Still, I think I prefer the sound of Russia Bathed in Blood… Much to think about!


  1. (I myself prefer to translate the title as “Russia, Washed in Blood,” because “bathed in blood” is “залитый кровью” in Russian — “умытый кровью” is not an idiom.)


  2. The latter has good KJV associations: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5). In OCS, that passage reads: “любящу ны и омывшу нас от грех наших Кровию Своею.”

    That alone makes it clear that “washed” is the better translation; I hope he changes it. “Bathed in blood” just sounds like a cliché; “washed in blood” has the needed Biblical resonance and makes you think.


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