“My writing is no more about camps that St-Exupéry's is about the sky or Melville's, about the sea. My stories are basically advice to an individual on how to act in a crowd... [To be] not just further to the left than the left, but also more real than reality itself. For blood to be true and nameless.”.
Varlam ShalamovRead about the goals of our project here.
Robert Chandler: “The poetry of Varlam Shalamov (1907-82)” (21 march 2014)Varlam Shalamov’s Kolyma Tales is generally recognised — at least by Russians and readers of Russian — as a masterpiece of Russian prose and the greatest work of literature about the Gulag; this thousand-page cycle of stories draws mainly on Shalamov’s experiences as a prisoner in Kolyma, a vast area in the far northeast of the USSR that, throughout most of the Stalin era, was in effect a mini-State run by the NKVD; most of the inmates of its hundreds of camps were either felling trees or mining coal or gold. Shalamov’s poetry, however, still has few readers even in Russia, although he himself seems to have valued it above his prose.
Lysander Jaffe, a student at Williams College (USA) compares two English translations of Shalamov in his article “Writing as a Stranger:” Two Translations of Shalamov’s “The Snake Charmer” (20 june 2013)“What does it mean, then, to retell “The Snake Charmer” in another language? For translators, this challenge has proven formidable, not least because of the original text’s long, convoluted history of publication. “The Snake Charmer” and other Kolyma Tales first appeared in the Russian émigré journal Novyi Zhurnal in 1967, and was not re-published until 1978. The 1967 version differs drastically from all subsequent versions, omitting significant portions of Shalamov’s prose. John Glad first translated this and other Kolyma Tales into English in 1980, and his translation reflects many of these omissions. Glaring inaccuracies also result from the many typos in the 1967 version; the most unfortunate of these is the line “Эх, скука, ночи длинные,” written as “Эх, скука, ноги длинные” in the first publication, and rendered by Glad as “It’s so boring my legs are getting longer.” (my italics) It may be argued that on a small scale, Glad was working from a different original than Robert Chandler and Nathan Wilkinson, who re-translated “The Snake Charmer” almost thirty years later.”
A panel entitled “Shalamov as a Revolutionary” has been accepted for the ASEEES 45th Annual Convention, which will be held in Boston in November 2013 (6 april 2013)The following scholars will participate in the panel: Elena Mikhailik (University of New South Wales, Australia), Olga Cooke (Texas A&M University, USA), Josefina Lundblad (University of California at Berkeley, USA), Michael Nicholson (Oxford University, UK), and Reed Johnson (University of Virginia, USA). The conference will take place November 21-24 in Boston, MA
“Shalamov”, Valery Esipov's new book, is now available in stores nationwide (14 august 2012)First chapters are presented online at russ.ru.
The “Duck”, translated by Robert Chandler & Nathan Wilkinson (5 june 2012)“It had been very difficult for the man to take a decision himself, to act independently, to do something his daily life had not prepared him for. He had not been taught to hunt ducks. That was why his movements had been helpless, clumsy. He hadn’t been taught to think about the possibility of such a hunt — his brain couldn’t come up with correct answers to the unexpected questions life posed. He had been taught to live differently, without needing to take decisions of his own, with another will — someone else’s will — in charge of events. It is uncommonly difficult to meddle in one’s own fate, to ‘refract’ fate. And maybe that’s all for the best — a duck dies on a patch of water, a man in a barrack.”
Robert Chandler's & Nathan Wilkinson's translations of three short stories by Shalamov (9 may 2012)
In the late 70s, Robert Chandler has published translations of several short stories by Shalamov (including “Sherry Brandy”, “Berries” and “Duck”) in magazines “Index on Censorship” and “Bananas”. In the anthology “Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida” (Penguin Classics, 2006) he has included the following new translations on which he collaborated with Nathan Wilkinson: “Through the Snow”, “Berries”, “The Snake Charmer”, “Duck”.
Josefina Lundblad's article about The 2011 Shalamov Conference: “Life and work, world literature and Soviet history. Exploring the moral necessity of Varlam Shalamov” in Baltic Worlds (15 october 2011)During two scorching hot days in the middle of June, a diverse assembly of scholars from Russia and beyond converged in Moscow in search of answers to two questions: What is Varlam Shalamov? And why do we need him?.
Robert Chandler, “Varlam Shalamov and Andrey Fedorovich Platonov” (13 july 2011)“Shalamov and Platonov portray worlds in which an extraordinary degree of cruelty is seen as commonplace. In other respects, however, these two great writers are antithetical to one another. While Platonov takes us deep inside both the bodies and the souls of his characters, Shalamov portrays his characters from the outside” (in Russian).
Review of the recent Shalamov Conference: (9 july 2011)The Culture Channel, the website pedsovet.org, and the Yaroslavl regional newspaper “The Golden Ring” review the recent conference: “The Life and Works of Varlam Shalamov in the Context of World Literature and Soviet History” (in Russian).
The fourth issue of The Shalamov Papers has been published (28 june 2011)The newest issue of The Shalamov Papers (No. 4) features new research by new voices in the field as well as well-known international scholars from Russia, Germany, Switzerland, USA, Australia, and Sweden. The issue also includes new material from the Varlam Shalamov archive and little-known memoirs about him. This edition is dedicated to the memory of Irina Pavlovna Sirotinskaya, Shalamov’s friend, publisher, and heir to his literary archive (in Russian).
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