One of Pushkin’s most delightful works is Маленькие трагедии, the Little Tragedies—a collection of four short verse dramas he wrote in 1830 (the Russian texts are available, for instance, here, and the wonderful filmed versions by Mikhail Shveitser are available on YouTube: 1, 2, 3). Alan Shaw, a poet, playwright, composer, and translator, has been working on English versions of these pieces for some time (and trying them out onstage when he had the chance), and is finally satisfied enough to publish them (they’re available for sale at his website). He sent drafts to both me and Sashura for our comments, and we both found them quite impressive; Sashura has reviewed them at Tetradki, providing a couple of samples of the translation, and I direct you there for more information. I always welcome new translations of Pushkin that are not only in living English but work well when read aloud, and I hope they get widely produced and introduce more people to the plays.


  1. To those who are unfamiliar with the Little Tragedies I’d especially recommend Feast in the Time of Plague with its dual take on Decameronian theme of rejecting death.
    Thanks for reffing, LH.

  2. The opening lines of Mozart & Saglieri would have been a proper footnote to another recent thread @, the one about Truth vs. Justice…
    On to yet the 3rd thread to cite Pushkin, this time about лоно ~~ bosom

  3. Can anyone compare this to Julian Lowenfeld’s translation (and stage production) of Little Tragedies from a few years ago? The acting was so-so, and I don’t have enough knowledge to comment on the translation myself.

  4. Thanks, Hat and Sashura, both for the gracious words, and for help in making the book better. I’ve had the experience of seeing things in print with errors that could have been avoided by having the right people review them first, and it was an experience I was not anxious to repeat. Those “right people” are not always easy to find.

Speak Your Mind