Here was Rome

Рим золотой,
обитель богов,
меж градами первый


Victor Sonkin, the author of this prize-winning guidebook to Ancient Rome, will talk about the everyday details of ancient Roman life, concentrating on (sometimes deceptively) simple questions of what the ancient Romans ate and drank for supper and how they calculated time. An authority on this culture, with public appearances from education, to television, and ship cruises, he makes the layers and quirks of history amusing, as much as his treatment is informative and in-depth.

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Literary translation during the Soviet and Post Soviet period

£7 / £5 conc. – book at Pushkin House

  • It is a truth universally acknowledged that Soviet literary translators were the best in the world (as well as cosmonauts and ballet dancers).
  • What happened to them after the Perestroika?
  • Does a new era require new translation principles?
  • And where does this leave the reader?

Most fiction published in English is originally written in English. In many countries, including Russia, the situation is almost reversed, and translated fiction dominates the market. Borisenko and Sonkin will talk about Soviet-era translation and its influence, the great changes inpost-Soviet times, and the challenges that Russian literary translators encounter today.

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Shostakovich – From Jewish Folk Poetry

View the
music recording
and our
introduction here.

After his fearsome 1948 condemnation at the hands of the Union of Composers and Stalin’s ‘cultural’ henchman Andrey Zhdanov, Shostakovich was understandably careful about what he composed next and what he revealed in public. His position was undoubtedly dangerous. In the autumn of the same year he compiled a strikingly unusual  song-cycle for three singers and piano: the texts were taken from a collection of Russian translations of Jewish lyrics, mostly originally in Yiddish but one or two Hebrew or Russian; the melodies he created were original but closely related to the style of ‘klezmer’ music which Shostakovich knew and loved. The ensemble of three singers gives almost the feeling of a chamber opera.

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