29th September 2013
Received from Robert Chandler
5 November, 7.30 pm at Pushkin House, 5a Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1A 2TA
MIKHAIL LERMONTOV, WITH NICOLAS PASTERNAK SLATER & ROBERT CHANDLER
Lermontov’s A Hero of Our Time is one of the most powerful character portraits ever written of a Romantic anti-hero. The novel was influenced by Byron, but its protagonist, Pechorin, outdoes even Byron’s heroes in his bored indifference and cruelty, which mask a deep disillusionment. Like Byron, Pechorin is irresistible to women. His personal journey is set in the Caucasus, a dangerously beautiful region also described by Pushkin in his travelogue A Journey to Arzrum. Nicolas Pasternak Slater has recently published translations of both these texts (A Hero of Our Time, Oxford World’s Classics). He will present Lermontov’s novel in its historical context and as a work of literature, touch on the links with Pushkin, and discuss the problems of translating Lermontov with examples from his own and other translators’ work (including Vladimir Nabokov’s). Slater is the translator and editor of Boris Pasternak: Family Correspondence, 1921-1960. Robert Chandler, whose translations from Russian include Vasily Grossman’s Life and Fate, will round out this picture of Lermontov by reading new translations, by himself and Boris Dralyuk, of several of Lermontov’s poems.
White sail out in the bay billowing in the wind. Why sail so far away? Why leave so much behind? Winds must play on the seas and masts creak in the wind. Fortune is not what he seeks, nor what he’s left behind. A golden light still pours down onto deep blue seas; this rebel, alas, seeks storms, as if in storm lies peace.
tr. Robert Chandler