An Extraordinary Event, or a Show in the Arcade, The True Story of How a Certain Gentleman of Familiar Age and Familiar Appearance was Swallowed Alive by the Arcade Crocodile, Completely, and Utterly, and What Came Out
Written in 1865, this satire on the Russian radical left concerns Ivan Matveich, a civil servant who goes to see a crocodile on show as a foreign curiosity. Ivan is swallowed whole but survives to carry on preaching socialism from the monster’s belly. Translated, with an introduction by SD Cioran.
Rabbits and Boa Constrictors
Fazil Iskander (1929–2016) was famously described as the ‘Abkhazian Mark Twain’, having a similar sense of humour to the American author. Written in 1989, this novel tells of a struggle between rabbits and boa constrictors – the manipulators and the manipulated trying to function in a failed utopia.
Narrative, Lyric, Polemic, and Ribald Verse
The renowned translator Walter Arndt (1916–2011) presents a collection of Pushkin’s narrative, lyric, polemic and ribald verse with three versions of each poem: the original Russian, a close translation into English, and a poetic verse translation that aims to capture the form and spirit of the original.
The Petty Demon
This decadent and very provocative novel by the symbolist writer and poet Fyodor Sologub (1863–1927) narrates the lurid story of Peredonov, a sadistic and generally repellent schoolmaster, descending into madness in his provincial town. Translated and introduced by SD Cioran, along with short critical essays. Slightly off-mint.
Notes on the Cuff
& Other Stories
In this collection of early fiction and reportage written during the 1920s, the title story is a comical, autobiographical account of surviving hunger, typhus, civil war and bureaucracy to become a writer. Translated by Alison Rice, with an introduction by Ellendea Proffer.
and Other Stories
This collection of six stories, first published in 1988, offers an introduction to the fiction of Boris Pilnyak (1894–1937), whose work – revolutionary in both style and subject matter – eventually led to his death sentence in Stalin’s USSR. Translated by Vera T Reck and Michael Green.
An Anthology of Russian Literature Under Gorbachev
First published in 1990, this anthology brings together fiction by ten writers active during the Russian literary renaissance that began with Gorbachev’s reforming policies in the 1980s. The selection comprises four novellas and seven stories by writers including Mikhail Kuraev, Vladimir Makanin, Valery Popov and Tatyana Tolstaya. With an introduction and brief profiles of the authors.
Manuscripts Don't Burn
Mikhail Bulgakov: A Life in Letters and Diaries
Mikhail Bulgakov (1871–1940), is best known as the author of The Master and Margarita, a novel written in the 1930s and unpublished in full until 1973. Like his writings, details of Bulgakov’s life remained inaccessible for decades. Published in 1991, this book brings together letters to and from the writer, and his diaries from the 1920s and the period 1933–40, providing a vivid account of what it was like to be a writer in Stalin’s Soviet Union.
Russian Romantic Prose
The period between 1820 and 1841 is remembered as the great age of Russian literature, dominated by the towering figures of Pushkin and Gogol. At the time, however, their popularity was equalled and sometimes surpassed by writers such as Alexander Bestuzhev-Marlinsky and Alexander Veltman, whose work can be found here. Among the other tales of adventure, fantasy and passion in the anthology are pieces by Lermontov, Pushkin and Gogol.
Hanz Kuechelgarten, Leaving the Theater and Other Works
Early Writings, Essays, Book Reviews and Letters
Nikolai Gogol is one of the geniuses of Russian comic prose. This compilation of uncollected and previously untranslated writings ranges from his debut in 1829 to 1842, the year of his great novel Dead Souls. It presents him in many guises – as poet, playwright, essayist and book reviewer – rounding out our understanding of this enigmatic master of dark humour. The translator’s introduction sets these early works in their biographical and historical context.
My Half Century
Anna Akhmatova (1889–1966) is one of 20th-century Russia’s greatest poets, whose work is a powerful response to the repression and tragedy of the Stalin era. This collection of her letters, essays, an unfinished memoir, diatribes against the government and rousing wartime broadcasts forms the closest thing to a self-portrait the elusive writer allowed herself. Among these tantalizing fragments are vivid memories of friends and contemporaries such as Blok, Mandelstam, Modigliani, Pasternak and Tsvetaeva.