Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Soviet Short Stories

Soviet Short Stories: Parallel Text Soviet Short Stories: Parallel Text by Peter Reddaway

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I bought this back in the mists of time when I thought I would be learning more Russian than "my brother is an engineer". It has the Russian down one side of the page and the English translation down the other side, and is designed to make it easy for the student so the translation is pretty literal rather than literary.
I avoided reading this for a while (15 odd years) as I thought all the stories would be about tractors and collective farms. But actually I enjoyed them, as examples of writing from a particular culture and time, and I found the notes useful. My favourite was Making Snowmen, where a teacher supervises her class making, well, snowmen, and is led to muse on their futures after a sullen child proves to be an artistic genius in the making.
"It is true they are no good at making snowmen, but there is some other thing which they can do splendidly and inspiredly, something as yet unknown to me or to themselves. At the moment they have in their hands snow, plasticine, coloured pencils, building bricks, wooden pieces of construction kits - so little! The time will come when they have at their disposal all materials and all the elements, the open spaces of the earth and of all creation, all words, all sounds. And who knows what it is given to them to create!"

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