I’d like to think that the Blake Quarterly does a decent job of celebrating books and articles on Blake that are not in English. Chuck Ripley’s annual checklist of publications, which will next appear in our upcoming summer 2021 issue, features four collaborators: Hüseyin Alhas for works in Turkish, Fernando Castanedo for Romance languages, Hikari Sato for Japanese, and Vera Serdechnaia for Russian and other Cyrillic languages.
This week I heard that Vera has a new book, Уильям Блейк в русской культуре [William Blake in Russian Culture], 1834–2020 (Moscow: Gorodets Publ., 2021).
She has kindly provided an abstract in English:
William Blake in Russian Culture offers a story of Blake reception in Russian criticism, literature, and music. The author describes the history of Russian Blake translations, including the forgotten versions by Vladimir Elsner (Kiev, 1912), as well as the first discovered translations by Nikolai Gumilyov (Petersburg, 1919–21) and Serafima Remizova (Paris, 1920s–1930s). The book also takes a dive into the life of the emigrant poet and mosaic artist Boris Anrep (1883–1969), who considered himself Blake’s creative heir and wrote some poems, mainly unpublished, close to prophetic epics. Vera Serdechnaia shows the way Blake’s poetry influenced such Russian poets as Konstantin Balmont and Jurgis Baltrušaitis, Daniil Kharms and Nikolay Gumilyov, Joseph Brodsky and Veniamin Blazhenny, Yuri Stefanov and Andrei Tavrov. Blake also grabbed the attention of a few Russian composers: Dmitry Smirnov wrote about forty symphonic works on Blake, and in 2020 Leonid Fedorov recorded an album entitled Blake and Alexander Belousov created an opera, The Book of Seraphim, based on Blake’s The Book of Thel, at Stanislavsky Electrotheatre.
Many congratulations to Vera on its publication. At the moment I’m working on the layout for her contribution to next winter’s special issue of the journal—case studies arising from the reception of Blake in Europe volumes and conference—in which she details Gumilyov’s translation of “The Mental Traveller.” The issue is guest edited by Sibylle Erle and promises to be special in more ways than one.