Edited by Robert Chandler.
This collection was an absolute pleasure; I was really struck by the strength of ideas throughout. How could one country, Russia, have produced so many fantastic writers that are unique but seem to share similar preoccupations? Perhaps that is testament to Robert Chandler’s editing (as well as his translation of most of the stories). There are a few omissions (Victor Serge, Venedikt Erofeev, Vassily Grossman and the ‘Russian Decadents‘) but maybe those writers and stories wouldn’t have worked within the overall collection. I really am filled with awe at the achievement of these writers both individually and collectively.
Many of these stories I had read before but it was good to revisit them sometimes in a more modern, considered translation. However, there were several writers I had not been aware of previously, and this collection is excellent as a taster for future reading.
It is impossible to canvas all the stories as they deserve. However, writers who sparked my interest were Bunin (who I had never heard of), Buida, Dovlatov, Shuksin and Zinovyeva-Annibal (who was related to Pushkin). There were others too, but I will begin with Bunin as the two stories ‘In Paris’ and ‘The Gentleman From San Fransisco’ left a strong impression on me. Buida too – his ‘Prussian Bride’ novel was published by Dedalus a few years ago. What else should I say? This is a great starting point for Russian literature, and even if you have read a moderate amount there are still discoveries here.
(as this is a collection the soundtrack should be a collection as well)
Soundtrack: Flying Nun Records – In Love With These Times/Pink Flying Saucers Over The Southern Alps.