Rene’s Russian Wake.

Katarzyna Bartoszynska’s Asymptote interview with José Vergara about his All Future Plunges to the Past (see this LH post) is full of good stuff, and I recommend reading the whole thing, but what drives me to post it is this exchange:

KB: Who are the Russian translators (ie, people translating into the Russian)—of Joyce or any other authors!—whose work you especially admire?

JV: Given the context, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the monumental work of Andrey Rene (a pseudonym referring to André the Giant), who completed the first Russian Finnegans Wake at the end of 2021. Others have published some fragments before, and Rene’s version is, indeed, imperfect, but the fact that he was able to do it at all is worth commending. There’s a three-volume edition without annotations, as well as a seventeen-volume edition with his commentary—all available for free here.

It’s called «На помине Финнеганов», as distinguished from what is apparently the canonical rendition of the title, «Поминки по Финнегану», and begins:

      рекутопия, после здания Евы и Адама, уйдя от берега, найти чтоб устья изгиб, принесёт нас по разомкнутому прочному круговику назад к границам и Замку-на-Взгорье.

I also appreciated his shout-out to a couple of my favorite Russ-lit people:

KB: And what about the translators working from Russian into English?

JV: Lisa Hayden and Boris Dralyuk are definitely on my list. I admire the former’s keen sense of narrative voice and style; that’s crucial when translating something such as Evgeny Vodolazkin’s Laurus—a deeply historical, even archaic, novel. Boris is also a brilliant stylist who translates writers such as Isaac Babel and Maxim Osipov and the poet Julia Nemirovskaya. Hearing him speak about his approach to translating is always inspiring. 

And this is exciting news:

Another big project is an annotated digital edition of Sasha Sokolov’s second novel, Between Dog and [Wolf]—the “Encyclopedia of the Dog” (or “Dogopedia” as we’ve been calling it). Sokolov has had a huge influence on the development of contemporary literature, but in many ways he remains a writer’s writer and his three novels—A School for Fools (1976), Between Dog and Wolf (1980), and Palisandriia (1985, translated as Astrophobia)—are somewhat inaccessible to many readers. They’re marked by his idiosyncratic style, which has challenged translators and critics for decades. Case in point: it took thirty-five years to translate Between Dog and Wolf! My hope is to bring a larger readership to the novel, so this project aims to overcome the lack of suitable tools necessary to enter Sokolov’s world by creating a complete and freely accessible bilingual set of annotations that covers everything: linguistic register, style, meta-references, meanings, allusions, all layers of the text. I’m working with some other Sokolov specialists, particularly Martina Napolitano, our amazing digital librarian at Bryn Mawr, and a few students to make this all happen. It should be available by next summer.

I posted about Sokolov’s novels here: first, second, third (I wound up not liking that one much at all).


  1. Thank you for the mention, Languagehat! This interview truly is packed with “good stuff,” and José’s recommendation of A Double Life reminds me that I keep meaning to buy (and read!) the book. (It’s also a good reminder I need to return to Ulysses and finish it… I have so relatively little left!)

  2. Yes, I keep meaning to read A Double Life too! So much to read, so little time…

  3. “a pseudonym referring to André the Giant” — is that alluding to the Samuel Beckett story?

  4. PlasticPaddy says


    The other spring offensive on the heights of Abraham may have come about all quite by accidence, Foughtarundser (for Breedabrooda had at length presuaded him to have himself to be as septuply buried as the murdered Cian in Finntown), had not been three monads in his watery grave (what vigilantes and ridings then and spuitwyne pledges with aardappel frittling!) when portrifaction, dreyfussed as ever, began to ramp, ramp, ramp, the boys are parching. A hoodenwinkle gave the signal and a blessing paper freed the flood. Why did the patrizien make him scares with his gruntens? Because the druiven were muskating at the door. From both Celtiberian camps (granting at the onset for the sake of argument that men on the two sides in New South Ireland and Vetera Uladh, bluemin and pillfaces, during the ferment With the Pope or On the Pope, had, moors or letts, grant ideas, grunted) all conditions, poor cons and dives mor, each, of course, on the purely doffensive since the eternals were owlwise on their side every time, were drawn toowards their Bellona’s Black Bottom, once Woolwhite’s Waltz (Ohiboh, how becrimed, becursekissed and bedumbtoit!) some for want of proper feeding in youth, others already caught in the honourable act of slicing careers for family and carvers in conjunction; and, if emaciated nough, the person garrotted may have suggested to whomever he took the ham of, the plain being involved in darkness, low cirque waggery, nay, even the first old wugger of himself in the flesh, whiggissimus incarnadined, when falsesighted by the ifsuchhewas bully on the hill for there had circulated freely fairly among his opposition the feeling that in so hibernating Massa Ewacka, who, previous to that demidetached life, had been known of barmicidal days, cook said, between soups and savours, to get outside his own length of rainbow trout and taerts atta tarn as no man of woman born, nay could, like the great crested brebe, devour his threescoreten of roach per lifeday, ay, and as many minnow a minute (the big mix, may Gibbet choke him!) was, like the salmon of his ladderleap all this time of totality secretly and by suckage feeding on his own misplaced fat.


    Другая весна наступает на лоне Авраамовом, может прийти совсем случайно, Отче наш (широкий хлеб в конце убедил его принять семикратное погребение, подобно Шиану в Финнтауне), не было трех монад в его водной могиле (какие вигиланты и конные шествия были тогда, и тосты сладким вином и картошкой!), когда гниение распространилось, как всегда, начало ползти, ползти, ползти, мальчики выгорают.

    Обманщик подал сигнал, и благословляющая бумага освободила поток. Почему куропатки-патриции напугали его брюзжанием? Потому что виноград мускатировал в дверь. Из лагерей Кельтиберии (допуская начало во имя аргумента о том, что люди находятся по обе стороны – в Новой Южной Ирландии и в Ульстере, Блааланд-Африка и лица пуль, во время ферментации С Поупом или На Поупе, были более-менее разрешенные идеи), все условия, бедные причины и богатый гумус, все, конечно, в ничтожном состоянии защиты, поскольку Бог всегда был мудр, как сова, со своей стороны, их тащили в танец блэк-боттом Беллоны, вальс Вулвайта (фу, какое преступление, проклятые поцелуи и онемение от них!), некоторые хотят надлежащее питание в молодости, другие уже затянуты в почетный акт нарезания ломтиками карьер во имя семьи и союза резчиков по дереву; и, если достаточно изнурить плоть, задушенной личности можно предложить, неважно, у кого он отнял время в деревне, ровный план, вовлеченный во тьму, низкие цирковые шутки, нет, даже первый старый шутник сам во плоти, виг из вигов алый, ложно увиденный как наемный убийца, как если бы он являлся таковым, на холме, поскольку там он ходил по кругу свободно среди своих противоположностей с чувством, что в состоянии сна мастер Евака, который прежде этой наполовину отделенной жизни был известен благодаря мнимым дням, сказал повар, между супами и приправами, выйти за пределы его собственной длины радужной форели и молодого лосося в пшеничной муке, поскольку мужчина не родится от женщины, не может, как чомга, поглотить жадно свои трижды по двадцать воблы дня жизни, ай, а как много мелкой рыбы в минуте (большая смесь, да задушит его Виселица!) было, словно путь лосося на нерест все это время тайно в итоге и при плохой игре кормился собственным неправильно помещенным жиром.

    I was waiting for drasvi to produce a side-by-side extract, but this is one from about p.77-79 of the original as corrected by Joyce. This kind of multilayered text is not really translatable, but I would suggest some improvements:
    1. Foughtarundser = otche nash: OK, but Breedabrooda = shirokii khleb : not so much
    2. Not sure why Cian = Shian (I would expect K, not Sh).
    3. (Ohiboh, how becrimed, becursekissed and bedumbtoit!) =(фу, какое преступление, проклятые поцелуи и онемение от них!) –I think the translator should do better
    4. Massa = master : Does “Master” in Russian express a master-slave relation?
    5. ramp, ramp, ramp, the boys are parching = song lyric (“Tramp, marching” for “ramp, parching”)–ползти, ползти, ползти, мальчики выгорают (although I would expect иссушить for “parch”) is OK , but wordplay on a recognisable Russian song might be more in keeping with the spirit of the original.

  5. @PlasticPaddy: It’s not Rene’s translation. His version goes:

    Другое весеннее наступление (в авраамские битвы), возможно, случилось совершенно непредметномеренно, когда наш Отшибатька (ведь после лестных аргументов его кровного булата он согласился быть хоть семикратно погребённым, как Киан, убитый в Финнграде) ещё не провёл и три монадицы в своей водяной могиле (а какие раньше были таксикэбы бдительности и процессии! а зароки трезвости шибучим вином с анисовкоземляными перворожками!),когда дворстолбаты, без погодных грейбутс, начали своё “аты-баты, фу-ты ну-ты, жги маяк, и мы вернуты”.

    And so on. What’s great about Rene’s work is that it’s pretty thoroughly annotated (with most his choices explained) and has a list of the leitmotives with translations (i.e. the Jove motive includes “Gross Jumpiter” and “Shoepisser pluvious” along with two dozen others). The result – the Russian text, that is – isn’t always satisfactory but Rene made life much easier for other translators. And for bilingual readers.

  6. PlasticPaddy says

    Alex-thanks and apologies to Rene for misattribution. I had my own doubts about the Russian text, but the alternative would have been to download Rene’s PDF volumes, locate the passage and maybe retype it (depending on how the PDF is made); as you may have guessed, I am too lazy to set up my phone to input Cyrillic efficiently.
    The text you excerpt seems a lot better but:
    I am not a great fan of “ego krovniy bulat” for “Breedabrooda”–maybe this alliteratively caricatured female personal name (appearing only once in the Wake, although there is a similar “Brinabreeda”) causes Russian translators to go “full retard” and produce adjective + masculine! noun combinations (based on interpreting the name as a non-obvious pun—the obvious pun would be “breed a brood”) like shirokii khleb or krovniy bulat….

  7. PlasticPaddy: You don’t have to download any PDF volumes, you just click on the Index link and go to the parts you want.

  8. @PlasticPaddy: It’s Brinabride, I think, not Brinabreeda. Rene promotes Brinabride to headword: this “motive” includes ten entries, such as “o’brine a’bride,” “breastbare to the brinabath,” and “brr na brr.” (That’s how I hear “bearna bhaoil” in the Soldier’s Song: it’s all “brr na brr” to me.) Rene glosses “Brinabrida” as “невеста океана” and translates it as “горчеобрученница” and “обрученная горькая” (it occurs twice).

    He seems to have nothing to say about Breedabrooda at all. The name sounds funny to me in a pie in the face way. Silly puns come to mind like “breed a Bruder” and “breed a brooder,” a worrier. I’ve seen comments suggesting “Bridget” and “bride” for “Breeda.” Still no idea what кровный булат – “blood-steel” or ” blood-sword” – is doing there. At least широкий хлеб is understandable, “broad bread.”

  9. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    @PP, I was similarly lazy when I briefly worked on the Russian course on Duolingo, and found out that I could just type Latin letters with the most naive correspondence and it would work. (Reading was not a problem, it was the keyboard layout. I’m used to being able to touch type or on mobile, using “flow” input methods).

    However, I was never able to find an ASCII input equivalent to soft and hard signs. So I just left them out, and 9 times out of 10 it would register as a typo and count as correct. If not, I’d grumble and do hunt and peck on the Russian layout.

  10. PlasticPaddy says

    Thanks all,
    I just assumed the links on the samizdat page were for downloading (because they displayed sizes).
    @alex k
    Brinabride looks like a Gaelic word that would be pronounced Breenabreeda :). There are place names with a similar look and feel, e.g., Bohernabreena (=Bóthar na Bruíne), or Clashabreeda (= Glaise Bhríde), just no Bruíon Bhríde. Bríde Bhrúite would be “mashed Breeda”, so pie-in-the-face seems right. I assumed krovniy bulat was for ?bleedablooda =? bloody blade.
    I would have guessed ‘ for soft sign (and maybe ” for hard sign, I have not thought about that).

  11. Lars Mathiesen (he/him/his) says

    @PP. I think I tried all the ASCII punctuation. But maybe not “. I may try again just for fun; also Duolingo adds and removes features Google-style, i.e., you can never be sure that what worked yesterday also works today, and vice versa.

  12. John Cowan says


    Translate a lax, you breed a bradaun, as it says at the end of the Canon Law Lecture.

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