there is a lecture at the Pushkin Club given by one of our members which promises to be of interest,
with best wishes
at the Pushkin Club, 46 Ladbroke Grove, W11 4AP
Tuesday February 17, 7.15 for 7.30 pm.
Robert Chandler will talk about Leskov and read from his newly published translation of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk (Hesperus) as well as from an
unjustly neglected American translation of The Steel Flea.
No great C19 Russian writer is so little known to the English-speaking reader today as Nikolay Leskov. This is in part because of the remarkable
variety of his novels, stories and journalism; literary historians tend to prefer writers who are easier to pigeonhole. It is also because of the
complexity of his language. To Leskov, according to one critic, “language was not simply a medium of communication, but a potential art object in
its own right, something to be played with, sculpted into interesting shapes.”
The more transparent language favoured by Tolstoy, Turgenev and many other Russian realists demands less of a translator.
Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, is Shakespearean in both its linguistic vigour and its emotional intensity. None of Leskov¹s contemporaries, not even
Dostoevsky, came so close to recreating the essence of Shakespearean tragedy. The libretto of Shostakovich’s famous opera is based on this story.
The most famous of Leskov¹s short stories, “The Steel Flea” (1881), is about a Russian blacksmith who, using nails invisible to the naked eye,
contrives to shoe a dancing steel flea that had been made for the Tsar by some English blacksmiths. The nails, unfortunately, weigh the flea down; it is no
longer able to dance. Leskov¹s brilliant language, dense with malapropisms and wordplay, provides an entertaining commentary on Anglo-Russian cultural
differences and misunderstandings.
£3.50, £2.50 conc. Tel: 020-7603-3862. www.pushkinclub.org.uk