Varlam Shalamov


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