‘Four Centuries’-An Ambitious New Journal of Russian Poetry in Translation

Four CenturiesA day after announcing a sabbatical from my work blogging, something was brought to my attention that I feel the need to comment on.

A new Journal, Four Centuries, has been going for a year now, and it publishes translations of Russian poetry in a number of languages: English, German, Italian, and one that I don’t recognize, but which uses the Cyrillic alphabet—possibly Bulgarian.

There are quite a lot of translations here, and the first edition boldly starts with translations of Pushkin’s Evgeniy Onegin in Italian. One area of improvement I can see, though, would be the addition of commentary or background on the poems and/or poets. There does not seem to be any scheme to the selection of poems for each issue, and no effort to put the works presented into the context of Russian history; literary, political or social.

That said, at the beginning of issue #3 is a letter outlining an ambitious plan aimed at collecting a massive trove of translations. As is stated in the letter, the hope is:

to create a library of Russian poetry in translations – Four Centuries Library. The ambitious goal of this project is to collect books, periodicals and other papers with Russian poetry, old and new, translated into different languages, and finally to donate collection as a whole to one of the university or public libraries.

I applaud this undertaking, as one of my primary motivations for translating is the belief that all great literature should be shared by as many people as possible. I wish Dr. Ilya Perelmuter, the editor and publisher of Four Centuries, all the best of luck in this endeavour.



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