De Waal and Mandelstam’s Tristia -

De Waal and Mandelstam’s Tristia

De Waal and Mandelstam’s Tristia

I think many of you have heard about Thomas de Waal. He is one of the few Western experts who is really informed about our region and the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. Recently, he has published “Armenia’s Year of Uncertainty” article, the excerpts from which we presented on our website.

About a week ago, Tom, whom I have known for over 20 years thanks to Mark Grigoryan, announced that he had completed the translation of Osip Mandelstam’s Tristia, collection of poems, which he had begun... back in 1988, when he defended his thesis on Mandelstam at Oxford.

“I casually decided that no one had done a complete translation of all the poems in Tristia and that they worked together as a book, so I would do it myself… I soon discovered that Mandelstam is almost impossible to translate, especially if you want to preserve the meter, as I did. Over the years I put the project down and picked it up again. Then, during lockdown,  I suddenly realized that 2022 was the centenary of Tristia and it was now or never,” Tom writes.

The book, which will be published this month, is bilingual: Russian and English. And I recalled that we have Mandelstam’s bilingual (Russian and German) book at home.

In the late 1980s, when the Soviet Union still existed, my mother was sometimes buying books “from hands” at a higher price. One day she bought Ray Bradbury’s short stories and Osip Mandelstam’s collection of poems published in Germany. I don’t remember the price of the books, but it was quite an amount for a family living on an engineer’s salary. When my father came home that evening and learned about the books and their price, they argued with my mother. She felt offended, and I was very upset too. It was difficult to understand at that age that both my mother and father were right from their perspectives.

If you are interested in Mandelstam and the Silver Age of Russian poetry, I recommend you to watch this program (in Russian). You will definitely not regret it!

Spoiler: they don’t really talk about sex and alcohol much, the main emphasis is on poetry: )

Ara Tadevosyan is the Director of Mediamax.


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