Posts Tagged ‘Russian’

What did they do with the free coal?

April 16, 2017

Irrelevant picture of a mine at Kopeisk, from

On SEELANGS, Robert Chandler asks about the following passage (from За правое дело, and apparently referring to life in a miners’ settlement in 1942):

И человек, понимающий рабочую жизнь, знает, как важны эти пустые с виду просьбы: дать записку в детсад, чтобы приняли ребёнка, перевести из холостого общежития в семейное, разрешить пользоваться кипятком в котельной, помочь старухе матери перебраться из деревни в рабочий посёлок, открепить от одного магазина и прикрепить к другому, который поближе от квартиры, разрешить не работать день, с тем чтобы отвезти жену в город на операцию, приказать коменданту дать угольный сарайчик. Кажутся эти просьбы действительно мелкими и нудными, а от них ведь зависит и здоровье, и спокойствие души, а значит, и производительность труда.

The original question was about the угольный сарайчик, which was easily enough identified as a coal shed rather than a corner shack, on the basis that the miners got an allowance of free coal.  Then the question arises as to what they would have done with the free coal if they lived in a barracks.

I think the possible answers are:

1) the list of cases does not refer to the same person who needs to move to married quarters, take his wife to the hospital, be registered at another shop and so on.  Some of the miners will have had the kind of accommodation where they could burn coal in their own stove and will have needed somewhere to store the coal;

2) while selling the coal  privately in the Soviet Union on 1942 might not have been wise, it does get cold in Russia in the winter and it would probably have been possible to exchange it for something;

3) nobody was interested in whether you had a use for your coal–you were issued it, and then it was up to you to deal with it.

‘Somewhere life is simple…’ (Anna Akhmatova)

April 13, 2017

Somewhere life is simple, the light does fall
Transparent, warm and cheering…
There a neighbour talks over the wall
At evening with a girl, only the bees are hearing
The tenderest talk of all.

Then we live grandly and with difficulty
And we see bitter meetings are rightly done
When the foolhardy wind abruptly
Breaks off utterance just begun.

But we will not exchange for anything the splendid
Granite city of glory and of doom
Ice resplendent on rivers’ wide room
Sunless gardens filled with gloom
And the Muse’s voice, scarce apprehended.


Picture from

Ведь где-то есть простая жизнь и свет,
Прозрачный, тёплый и весёлый…
Там с девушкой через забор сосед
Под вечер говорит, и слышат только пчёлы
Нежнейшую из всех бесед.

А мы живём торжественно и трудно
И чтим обряды наших горьких встречь,
Когда с налёту ветер безрассудный
Чуть начатую обрывает речь, –

Но ни на что не променяем пышный
Гранитный город славы и беды,
Широких рек сияющие льды,
Бессолнечные, мрачные сады
И голос музы еле слышный.


Translate at City: 26-30 June 2017

April 9, 2017

Robert Chandler (Russian) writes:

This is a truly excellent summer school. I greatly admire ALL the other tutors, and the general atmosphere is always enthusiastic, intelligent and constructive. We are later than usual this year in advertising it, so I will be very grateful if you can forward the information to anyone who might be interested. This year we are running courses in translating from 11 different languages.
See details here.

Morphine, Etcetera Theatre 7 February

February 8, 2017



Picture from Anna Denshina’s Twitter feed

So let’s think–what problems might there be with staging Bulgakov’s ‘Morphine’, about a country doctor who falls victim to…err…morphine? Well, putting a non-dramatic work on the stage is always problematic–if the author had wanted to write a play he’d have done things differently. And especially in a case like the present, where the original text is in the first person and reflects the hero’s diseased apprehension of reality more than actual happenings between people. The latter is where you need to have things in a play. Here we also have some more objective narration from ‘Notes of a young doctor’ brought in to set the scene as well.

That said, the show combined the Russian tradition of having music in lots of places where you don’t want it with the English one of having characters shuffle on, deliver their lines through a mask of embarrassment, and then shuffle of again. The cast members showed various levels of comfort with appearing on stage and the Russian language…that said, I thought that Anna Danshina put in a good and affecting performance as the love interest called Anna.

There were also sutitling issues–the surtitles contained a lot of text at one go and tended to catch up after the event.  But I suspect the proportion of the audience who neither knew Russian nor the storyline of ‘Morphine’ was rather small…

Агенства по трудоустойству, работающие в Лондоне, и другие информации

November 2, 2016

Агенства общего профиля

Jobs in London | London Jobs & Vacancies –

Агенства, прделагающие места для носителей иностранных языков

…русского языка

Сайти, соединяющие предложения разных агенств


Tsvetochniy krest/The cross of flowers

September 7, 2016



This book by Elena Kolyadina hardly received great support when this blog did a survey of contemporary Russian novels for translation, and it was also being remaindered during my recent trip to Ukraine.

It appears to start in December 1674, when our heroine Feodosia is 15 and ready to be married off and to end in October 1673, when she is 17 and her son born half-way through the book is able to run around and beg for money.

There are many things it might be, but none of them for very long. The shadow of Thomas Mann’s Holy Sinner grows now lighter, now darker, and at times Kolyadina seems to engaged in a yacht race with Vodolzakins’s Laurus.  A yacht race because the leader ixs supposed to imitate the follower’s manoeuvrings.

At times it seems to be one of those books where a modern miss is plonked down with her insatiable curiosity in ancient times and at others it’s one of those books with detailed retro-porn description of life in Old Russia.  Indeed, we get a detailed description of the old-time salt industry, just like in Perm.  The contrast between carefree pagan sexuality and the strictures of the church might have been going somewhere and then wasn’t. Similarly the un-modern way Feodosia related to her family members just disappeared, leaving behind the usual YA heroine.  And then in a reference to Jan Potocki or perhaps Tolkien we have an entire community living under the ground brought into being.

A plot summary with SPOILER ALERT makes it sound as though the traditional saint’s life is being referenced.  It is 1673 in Tot’ma.  Feodosia is the intelligent beautiful etc etc daughter of wealthy salt-manufacturer Izvara due to be married off to another salt-manufacturer Yuda.  The priest Father Loggin feels himself tormented by her youth beauty intelligence needlework etc.

A company of travelling players comes to town under the leadership of one Istoma, who is not much like a salt manufacturer. The climax of their show is a puppetry version of the Crucifixion, except that Feodosia rescues Jesus from the cross, and Father Loggin takes exception.

Istoma and Feodosia enjoy a night of secret love in Feodosia’s bedroom, then Istoma’s troupe gets into a fight with the followers of her brother Putila as he returns from dealings in Moscow.  Revealed to be a confederate of Stenka Razin, Istoma is burned alive.  Feodosia marries the salt-manufacturer and devotes herself to her son by Istoma.

Influenced by Father Loggin, she practises more and more severe self-denial, including clitoridectomy and saying that like Abraham she would give up her son for God.  The son disappears and Feodosia takes up the lifestyle of a yurodivaya, eventually quitting town for the other side of the river.  There she discovers a community of underground pagans who can speak Russian when necessary and tries to convert them to Orthodoxy, planting a cross of flowers for this purpose.  She also entertains Death in a scene that owes much to Monty Python.

Father Loggin crosses the river to inspect this miraculous and has her burned as a witch so as to further his ambitions for preferment.

But Death does not have Feodosia on her list.

Well, well…




















‘And the Lord said…’ (Boris Khersonsky)

July 28, 2016

And the Lord said:  Katsap, where is Khokhol thy brother?
And Katsap answered: I am not his keeper Lord
And the Lord said: You sat to eat together
You sang his songs, you put him to the sword!

And Katsap said: Khokhol is himself at fault,
He is a traitor, greedy, he nibbled all the fruit,
He has artillery in the yard and a gun in the vault
And he puts my first-born right into dispute.

And the Lord said: Not first-born, but born to hate!
Forgetting, Katsap, that the Lord is father to you.
For I will say to Peter, who stands at Heaven’s gate
I will say to Peter, not to open to you.

And the Lord said: Turk, where is thy brother, Khach?
And the Turk answered: Am I his keeper, Lord?
And the Lord said: You thought I would not catch
Weeping from the ground, would not hear, not reward.

And the Lord said: Kraut, where is thy brother, Yid?
And Kraut said, I am not his keeper, nay.
And the Lord said: His blood is yelling what you did,
For vengeance is mine, and I will repay.

И сказал Господь: “Кацап, где брат твой, Хохол?”
Ответил Кацап: “Не знаю, я не сторож Хохлу!”
И сказал Господь: “Ты с ним садился за стол,
ты пел его песни и ты толкаешь его во мглу!”

И ответил Кацап: “Хохол – он сам виноват.
Он – предатель, он жадина, он яблоки все надкусил,
у него в огороде пушка, а в шкафу автомат,
он старшему брату, мне, противится что есть сил!”

И сказал Господь: “Ты не старший, ты страшный брат!
Ты забыл, Кацап, что Отец твой – Бог.
Вот скажу Петру, что стоит возле райских врат,
вот скажу Петру, он не пустит тебя на порог.

И сказал Господь: “Турок, где брат твой, Хач?”
И ответил турок “Не знаю! Я не сторож Хачу!”.
И сказал Господь: “От земли возносится плач!
Ты думал, что я не услышу, что я смолчу?”

И сказал Господь: “Фриц, где же брат твой, Жид?”.
И ответил Фриц: “Не знаю, я не сторож Жидам!”
И сказал Господь “Кровь Жида за тебя говорит.
Ибо Мое есть отмщение и Аз воздам.”

Mozart & Salieri (Rimsky-Korsakov in Catford)

June 1, 2016


We are informed:

Following a successful run at Phoenix Artist Club, Time Zone Theatre‘s immersive take on Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera MOZART & SALIERI comes to the Broadway Theatre Catford for two performances only on 13th & 14th July – info and booking here

The Russian school of dressmaking (in translation)

April 2, 2016


We have received the following query:

I am learning how to draft and sew my own clothes. There are these fabulous Russian books and dvds that have ALL I want.They teach you easy and clever ways to get the right fit without having to do numerous alterations . They have those great techniques that would give you professional results without having to put much effort!

 I could not find them in anywhere in English!!!

The problem is that they are in Russian and I have been trying to find a translation agency that has reasonable prices but they are Way too much for me . It is for my personal use , I don’t intend to sell and gain profit.

Most would charge between 8-15 cents per word and for 1 hour dvd the prices are outrages like 1000 dollars!

I wonder do you know of a reasonable price translation agency or individual who has good translations but not expensive?

There is a software but it still needs someone to review and by the way it costs 300 dollars.

It seems to me that it’s highly unlikely ever to be an economic proposition to have a book translated especially for yourself.

If it was me, I think I would pay for some dressmaking lessons instead, as being cheaper and more useful.

If you want to use the books/DVDs, I would advertise on Gumtree (craigslist, etc) for a Russian speaker to spend an hour or three going through them with you and explaining what they’re about–that might be enough if there are plenty of illustrations.  The other thing to remember is that a surprising amount of Russian ‘practical’ literature is derived from foreign-language sources, so that’s something you could easily get someone to check for you–whether there’s an English-language original it’s been adapted from.

For a specific technical area with a restricted vocabulary and range of grammatical constructions automatic translation might be good enough though I’m not sure how you would get the text in from a hard-copy original. If you can get the text in electronic form, try a sample on one of the free online translators and see how useful the result is.

However, I can’t help feeling that what you want to know is common currency among women of a certain age and background–for instance, anyone who was a young woman in the UK in the 1940s or 1950s will know how to make her own clothes and have spent many, many evenings doing so…It’s just a case of making contact.

If I think about cooking, which unlike dressmaking I do know about, I find it quite hard to cook from an American recipe–not only are the measures different, but some common implements and procedures are described differently and some of the ingredients are just different.  Still more with a recipe in French…My point here being again that you really need a person rather than a text…

Meanwhile, a translator (retired) has kindly commented as follows:

I agree with all the comments. And even in leafy Leamington you can get group or private sewing lessons really easily.

Why the questioner has ended up with Russian sources only I can’t imagine. It’s likely that there are still more people dress-making in Russia than UK/US, but there are older books giving this sort of information in English. Re the translation – it’s the sort of comment that makes my blood boil. If you pay peanuts you get monkeys. I bet she doesn’t do her own job for less than the minimum wage. I doubt if she’d get a proper translation for less than the lower quote though the upper one sounds relatively high. Obviously a freelance might be cheaper than an agency. The free translations are pretty good these days, so I don’t know why she’s even looked at purchasing software.



Мария Галина и Аркадий Штыпель в Лондоне

January 3, 2016

5-го января 2016 года
в 6 вечера в Жан – Жаке 
Jean Jacques – Soho, 45 Frith St, London
the website link:

читают свои стихи
известные поэты из Москвы —
Мария Галина и Аркадий Штыпель.

Мария Галина

лауреат нескольких литературных премий (в том числе поэтических премий Anthologia и Московский счёт) известна как поэт, прозаик и переводчик поэзии. Ее стихи и проза переведены на несколько языков.

Аркадий Штыпель

автор нескольких поэтических сборников, переводчик украинской и англоязычной поэзии, известен помимо всего прочего своей яркой манерой чтения, он победитель литературных слэмов, в том числе и Московского.

Мария и Аркадий переводят и
пропагандируют украинскую поэзию


Репродуктор на столбе
Поёт песню о тебе,
О твоей несчастной, горькой, загубленной судьбе.

Бухгалтер средних лет
Покупает билет
Своей маленькой женщине, одетой в креп-жоржет.

Их посадят в пятый ряд,
Дверь за ними затворят,
И покажут в кинохронике привязной аэростат,

Академика наук,
Двух ткачих, цветущий луг,
Всё на свете исчезает, превращаясь в свет и звук,

Исчезают и они
В чёрной бархатной тени
В эти тёплые, последние, в эти солнечные дни.



ты плыл волну разбивая
подныривая под волну
и тысяча солнц качалась
вокруг твоей головы

но этого больше не будет
ни с кем никогда и нигде
нет-нет это будет, будет
со всяким всегда и везде

ты видел луну и звёзды
ты видел траву цветы
ты слышал как пели птицы
и как грохотал гром

но этого больше не будет
ни с кем никогда и нигде
нет-нет это будет, будет
со всяким всегда и везде

ты женщину видел нагую
какой её создал бог
ты был перед ней как остров
накрытый большой волной

но этого больше не будет
ни с кем никогда и нигде
нет-нет это будет, будет
со всяким всегда и везде

ты станешь вином и хлебом
но это будет потом
ты выгнешь дугой позвоночник
и руки раскинешь крестом

и этого больше не будет
ни с кем никогда и нигде
нет-нет это будет, будет
со всяким всегда и везде

но этого больше не будет
ни с кем никогда и нигде
нет-нет это будет, будет
со всяким всегда и везде