Translated from the Russian by Peter Daniels; introduction by Michael Wachtel
POETRY BOOK SOCIETY RECOMMENDED TRANSLATION
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WEIDENFELD TRANSLATION PRIZE 2014 AND THE ROSSICA TRANSLATION PRIZE 2014
Vladislav Khodasevich (1886–1939), deleted from literary history in the Soviet era because of his emigration in 1922 with his partner Nina Berberova, has since been welcomed in Russia into its 20th-century pantheon of poets, where he was long ago placed by Vladimir Nabokov and Joseph Brodsky.
Khodasevich is a modernist yet standing for continuity, relishing the verse forms of Pushkin. In the postrevolutionary era of the 1920s, in the sound and fury of poetic schools battling for supremacy, his restrained and understated tone was misunderstood. To his strident contemporaries his quieter voice seemed anachronistic and irrelevant; today, his classical precision and his doubts are more convincing than their confidence. His quest to find meaning in the world without self-idealization or setting himself apart from his fellow men is distinctly appealing to our time.
This bilingual edition, with its wide-ranging introduction by Michael Wachtel and extensive end-notes by the translator, offers the English-speaking reader the first substantial selection of this intriguing poet. It contains 58 poems, among them the meditative ‘Sorrento Photographs’, one of the great Russian longer poems of the century.
‘Peter Daniels has given us an English Khodasevich worthy of his stature . . . His reputation may now take off among English-speaking readers.’ – G.S. Smith, Times Literary Supplement
‘Peter Daniels’ admirable versions combine accuracy and fidelity, yet read like real poems written in English.’ – Ruth Fainlight
‘Meticulous and elegant. This translator has found a voice and a tone in English which is as sophisticated and urbane as Khodasevich’s own.’ – Sasha Dugdale
VLADISLAV FELITSIANOVICH KHODASEVICH was born in Moscow of a Polish-Lithuanian family, with Jewish maternal grandparents. He spent his first thirty-three years in Moscow. On leaving school he worked on Symbolist literary periodicals. In 1919 he moved to Petersburg to work with Maksim Gorky at the House of Arts on a vast translation project popularizing world literature. In 1922, after the death of the greatest Russian poet of the time, Aleksandr Blok, and the execution of Anna Akhmatova’s husband Nikolay Gumilyov, he found it impossible to work in Russia.
Khodasevich’s finest poetry is included in his collections The Way of the Seed (Moscow, 1920) and The Heavy Lyre (Moscow-Petrograd, 1922; 2nd edition Berlin, 1923) and the section ‘European Night’ in the first collected edition of his work (Paris, 1927).