Three String Books.

The latest newsletter from Slavica Publishers (see this LH post) brings news that should please anyone interested in the literature of Russia and Eastern Europe:

Slavica is pleased to announce the establishment of a new imprint, Three String Books, devoted to translations of literary works and belles-lettres from Central and Eastern Europe, Russia, and the other successor states of the former Soviet Union. The name has been selected to underscore the indispensable roles played by all three parties to literary translation: author, translator, and reader. And our new logo builds upon the prevalence of three-stringed folk instruments throughout these lands.

We will be delighted to discuss proposals for translation projects, which should be addressed to the managing editor of both Slavica Publishers and Three String Books, Dr. Vicki Polansky ( Keep an eye on this newsletter for announcements of upcoming publications!

The inaugural publication under the Three String Books imprint is Apollon Bezobrazov, a modernist novel by “recovered Surrealist” Boris Poplavsky, originally published in the early 1930s and now translated by John Kopper. Making an uncharacteristic detour into prose in the 1920s, the Russian émigré poet Poplavsky presents a novel that reveals the Surrealist influence of prominent Parisian contemporaries like André Breton and Louis Aragon and rebels against it. The hero, and the novel’s namesake, embodies the figure of the urban hippie—the flâneur of French literature—while the narrator, a young Russian, falls under his spell. The story describes in colorful, poetic detail the hand-to-mouth existence of a small band of displaced Russians in Paris and Italy. It chronicles their poverty, their diversions, their intensely played out love affairs, and Bezobrazov’s gradual transformation in the eyes of his admiring followers. The novel abounds in allusions to Eastern religion, Western philosophy, and 19th-century Russian literature. In its experimental mixing of genres, the work echoes Joyce’s Ulysses, while in its use of extended metaphors it reveals the stylistic impact of Marcel Proust. Not published in complete form in Russian until 1993, Apollon Bezobrazov significantly broadens our understanding of Russian prose produced in the interwar emigration.

Poplavsky is a fascinating character; I wrote about him here, and there’s a great chapter on him in The Bitter Air of Exile: Russian Writers in the West, 1922-1972 which you may or may to be able to read some of at Google Books. At any rate, now I know who to contact if I decide to translate a novel myself.


  1. Hat, are you planning to translate a novel? Let me know when you do because I’ll be first in the queue!

  2. Yes, what’s this “if” business? I for one would cheerfully endure a blog frequency slowdown or even hiatus if a novel was waiting at the end of it.

  3. Normally, the claim that a work of fiction “echoes” or “reveals the stylistic impact of” Proust or Joyce would sound boringly phony to me. Not so in Poplavsky’s case: he arrived in Paris when Proust still lived; he was one of the first French readers of Joyce (Ulysses appeared in French in 1929); he compared Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness monologues to the “automatic writing” of Lautréamont’s Maldoror (or Mal d’Aurore, in P.’s reading), of Blake (!), of French surrealists and – P. did not write it but I’m sure he meant it – of Ilyazd and P. himself.

  4. I’m pleased to see that Three String Books is still going.

Speak Your Mind