Via Jamie Olson’s The Flaxen Wave I learned about an excellent journal, Cardinal Points; I’ll let Jamie introduce it:

For the first time, the New York journal Cardinal Points (Стороны света) has published an issue in English. In fact, it’s a double issue, and it’s packed with great stuff. Compiled under the guest editorship of Robert Chandler, the new issue includes translations of works by Marina Tsvetaeva, Andrei Platonov, Varlam Shalamov, and Vasily Grossman, along with original poems by Chandler, Glyn Maxwell, and Ilya Kaminsky, among others. There is enough excellent writing here to keep you occupied for many days. Valentina Polukhina, for example, has an interview here with David Bethea about Joseph Brodsky, whom Bethea calls “the last poet in the Russian heroic tradition.” And Chandler gives us his own essay on Platonov and Shalamov to accompany their stories.

The Platonov included is Two extracts from Chevengur, which gives you a glimpse of the forthcoming translation by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, and Olga Meerson (I wrote about the novel here and here); the Grossman pieces are “A Small Life” (included in the new collection The Road) and the wonderful eleventh chapter (with a charming introduction by Chandler) of Everything Flows; and there is a fascinating discussion by Alexander Anichkin (known to LH readers as commenter Sashura) of various versions of a Bella Akhmadulina poem, including one quoted by Vassily Aksyonov that is not to be found in editions of Akhmadulina but that gives the poem “a sharp political edge without losing the wider, philosophical meaning.” There’s much more, of course, and Russophones can read the Russian edition as well.

Addendum. The Russian name of the magazine, Стороны света (Stórony sveta) ‘sides of the world,’ is a pun on the phrase страны света (Strány sveta) ‘cardinal points,’ literally ‘countries of the world’; I’m not sure what the point of the pun is in Russian, but they have (doubtless wisely) made no attempt to reproduce it in the English name.

Update to Addendum. It appears the two phrases are variants, though the one I was familiar with is more common (and thus the only one in my dictionaries). Thanks, as always, to my knowledgeable commenters for the correction!


  1. Where’s the pun in Russian? “Storony sveta” just plainly means “cardinal points”.

  2. I.e. the cardinal points of a compass ?

  3. aqilluqqaaq says

    WORD: страна. Заимств. из цслав., вместо исконного сторона.

  4. storony sveta and strany sveta are interchangeable in the meaning ‘cardinal points’ (of a compass), but ‘strany’ is used more frequently.
    I think the pun here is in that while ‘strana’ mainly means ‘country’, for ‘storona’ the main meaning is ‘side’ (as in ‘on the one side, on the other side’), but there is also a secondary meaning ‘country’ – ‘моя родная сторона’ (my native land). Svet is light, but it’s also ‘world’ (so vsego sveta – from all over the world). So the title points to its international content and the intention of looking at litthingery from different points of view, this side, that side.
    Thanks for the mention, Hat, much appreciated.

  5. Huh, all my dictionaries give only страны света for ‘cardinal points,’ so I assumed the title was a play on words rather than an alternate form. (I know the two words are historically identical, of course.) Live and learn. Thanks!

  6. [off-topic]
    Nick hasn’t been posting for a long time 🙁

  7. Actually, if there is a pun, it rather has to do with the second word. Indeed, svet is both “world” and “light”. So, storony sveta means 1) cardinal points (N, W, E, S) and 2) aspects, or facets, of light. This second meaning happens to be very important to us, editors.
    Having said that – our gratitude to language hat for the entry and to all authors of comments for this discussion.

  8. Aha, thanks very much for dropping by and explaining!

  9. :))

  10. Hey, I just realized—you’re Irina Mashinskaya! I have your first collection, После эпиграфа, and I like it a lot.

  11. It would be silly to deny it. Thank you!

  12. Most issues of Стороны света are now available in pdf format from the excellent

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