It gives me great pleasure to invite the Russian-speakers among you to register for and participate in a Zoom presentation of my latest publication hosted by the Golitsyn Library in cooperation with its parent organization, the Mayakovsky Municipal Public Library of St Petersburg, Russia. The date is 17 November, the time 18.00 Moscow time, which is 16.00 Central European Time and noon Eastern Time in the USA. My talk on that date will be delivered in Russian.
You can read about this event and register by following either of the following links:
A video recording of the event will later be posted by the Mayakovsky Library on its youtube channel.
About one week later, I will be delivering a second talk about this new book in English, this at the request of the Mayakovsky Library for the sake of its English speakers. The topics I discuss then will not be the same as the first speech, so there is no repetition. When this English talk is announced for registration, I will alert you so that non-Russian speakers among you can also participate.
Background Information about the book to be presented
Earlier this year, in February when the second volume of my Memoirs of Russianist was published by Author House in Indiana, I mentioned that a Russian-language edition would soon be coming. In fact, such an edition did appear a few weeks later, primarily as a low-price e-book and high price paperback. However, I did little to promote it, since its appearance was a stopgap measure, to have something available to the reading public pending the preparation of a revised edition in a thoroughly corrected translation. That has now taken place thanks to the release in St Petersburg of Russia in the Turbulent 1990s: Diaries, Memoirs and Documents (in Russian: Россия в бурные 1990-е: Дневники, Воспоминания и Документы).
A lot has changed in going from the first edition to this new one thanks to an important change in the production process. Whereas the original English edition was the product of self-publishing, by which I was author, editorial consultant and ultimately ‘translator,’ in a qualified sense that I will now explain, this new Russian edition is the fruit of a traditional collaboration with a quality publishing house having considerable experience with books on modern Russian history, Liki Rossii, in St Petersburg. Regrettably, there was no such potential publisher available to me in the United States or Western Europe.
I did not address this question previously, but it is now high time to explain that I ‘translated’ the original English text into the Russian text of the Author House edition using a machine translation tool provided for free online by www.linguee.ru. Thus, I fed into their website half or a third of a printed page at a time and received a Russian text back in several seconds The entire translation of 800 pages took me a little over one month. Had a human translator assumed this assignment, the translation work would have taken a year and would have been prohibitively expensive.
In anticipation of your likely raised eyebrows at the notion of putting a machine translation into print, I hasten to add that I have a good deal of professional experience as editor and translator in the Russian-English language pair, though admittedly that is running in the Russian to English direction based on my being a native speaker of English. I was well prepared to catch and correct the nonsensical word choices and even nonsensical composition of whole sentences that a machine translation even today in its greatly improved capabilities compared to a very few years ago will inevitably render. However, inevitably, given the sheer volume of text to be edited and the blindness to errors that develops with fatigue, I freely admit that there were quite a few errors in the version of my Russian edition that went to press in the USA. With the help of an editorial team at Liki Rossii, we have flushed out most of these errors and provide in the new Petersburg edition a text that will raise few objections over linguistic quality among Russian readers.
However, the publication of a Russian edition also entailed a good many other important changes to the content of this book.
First of all, it puts in one 780 page volume what had been 1200 pages in two volumes in the English originals. The entire narrative section of the English Volume I, which took the reader from my childhood and early education up to my becoming an expatriate manager in Russia in 1994, has been included in the new single volume edition. I also included select diary entries from 1978 – 1980 that are particularly interesting for the general reader and relevant to understanding who I was, what was my intellectual and experiential baggage, when I moved to Russia in 1994.
Secondly, we changed the title of the book to make it more comprehensible to Russian readers, for whom the notion of a “Russianist” is as alien as the notion of an “expatriate.” But this was not all. Indeed, the original English title “Memoirs” is misleading. On the better advice of my Russian editors, we changed the subtitle to reflect the actual content of the book, which is preponderantly diaries, a much rarer literary form and potentially more valuable to professional historians and social scientists.
Finally, under the guidance of my Russian editors we put into the new volume 8 pages of mostly color photos in montage illustrating key moments in the text, especially as regards my chairmanship of the Russian Booker Literary Prize. And we added a detailed Index of Names to facilitate the reader’s navigation through the book.
I am hopeful that many of you will sign up for the book presentation and I will welcome any comments from eventual readers of the book
©Gilbert Doctorow, 2021