Monday, September 13, 2010
A Russian Journal Goes English
For the first time, the New York journal Cardinal Points (Стороны света) has published an issue in English. In fact, it's a double issue, and it's packed with great stuff. Compiled under the guest editorship of Robert Chandler, the new issue includes translations of works by Marina Tsvetaeva, Andrei Platonov, Varlam Shalamov, and Vasily Grossman, along with original poems by Chandler, Glyn Maxwell, and Ilya Kaminsky, among others. There is enough excellent writing here to keep you occupied for many days. Valentina Polukhina, for example, has an interview here with David Bethea about Joseph Brodsky, whom Bethea calls "the last poet in the Russian heroic tradition." And Chandler gives us his own essay on Platonov and Shalamov to accompany their stories.
But my favorite section of the new issue is the one called "The Art of Translation." This is a big section, with contributions by the likes of Daniel Weissbort, Sasha Dugdale, Elaine Feinstein, and Sibelan Forrester. As I see it, the must-read essay in this section is Stanley Mitchell's recollection of the work he did - and depression he suffered - while translating Pushkin's Eugene Onegin. There's no question but that any Onegin translation is a Sisyphean task, and Mitchell's took its toll on him. In the end, though, he turned out something to be proud of: "Repeating Pushkin’s self-congratulation on finishing a piece of work, I said of mine: ‘Well done, you son-of-a-bitch!’"
For a glance at the older issues, go to the journal's Russian-language page.