In an unprecedented move, several important works of Russian literature will be translated into English, with the Columbia University Press chosen to publish them. The ambitious project is a collaboration of Russian government officials, publishers and American and Russian academics, it was announced Saturday.
The project, which is called the Russian Library in English, will have a 100-volume collection of the most significant works by Russian authors, which will include classics written by Dostoevsky, Chekov and Tolstoy. It will be chronologically built and will include prominent works, beginning with the Ancient Rus chronicle to works written by contemporary Russian authors. Part of the Russian English Library will also include contemporary prose to give foreign readers a chance to fully enjoy the richness of literature in Russia. It took three hours of serious discussion before it was announced that the Columbia University Press was selected to publish the collection, according to the deputy head of Rospechat, Vladimir Grigoryev. The Rospechat is the Russian Federation’s Federal Agency on Press and Mass Communications.
The agreement was signed on Saturday, June 27 at the Books of Russia Festivals at Red Square in Moscow. Signatories to the agreement were representatives from the Read Russia, Inc., which is based in the U.S. and Russia’s Institute of Translation. The list of books to have new English translations is still being finalized by the international editorial board, which consists of top American and Russian experts in the subject. The members of the editorial board had a serious discussion regarding works by Evgeny Vodolazkin, Yury Buida, Lyudmila Ulitskaya and Zakhar Prilepin, along with other contemporary Russian authors.
According to Evgeny Reznichenko, the executive director of the Institute of Translation and a member of the editorial board, this project might help foreign readers in understanding the Russian soul better as they get to known both modern and classic Russian literature.
Given the current political situation globally, the library project is unprecedented. However, as Grigoryev puts it, people who love Russian literature do not pay close attention to world politics and whatever obstacles are created by it. He said that literature is above sanctions and the cultural exchange will go on, and the establishment of the Russian Library is a great step in the right direction.
Academics from both countries are looking at this project as an informal move to strengthen the relationship between the U.S. and Russia amid the tensions. They are looking at the wide range of perspectives from the Russian past to the present. They want to discover solid bridges that could pave the way for talks that are not filled with tension.
The director of the Columbia University Press, Jennifer Crewe said that there should be classics that would require new translations, and post-Soviet as well as modern ones to complete the collection. She said they are looking at 2017 for the first of the titles to be published, since it will take time to translate the books.
The Russian Library is a result of the collaborative efforts Peter Kaufman of Read Russia, Inc., Peter Kaufman and Vladimir Grigoryev.
Image Copyright: By spaxia / 123RF Stock Photo