Russian poetry and drama
July 19, 2008 11:09 AM   Subscribe

Early Twentieth Century Russian Drama and From the Ends to the Beginning: A Bilingual Anthology of Russian Poetry are both products of Northwestern University Slavic Department. The former is devoted to Russian theater from the 1890s through the 1930s and focuses on the visual aspect of theater, with images of costumes, set designs and photographs of stagings. The latter is a collection of 250 poems, both in Russian and English translations ranging from the 18th Century to the modern day. There are some amazing images from the history of Russian drama, such as Kazimir Malevich's designs for Victory over the Sun and a quicktime video of actors doing Meyerhold's biomechanical exercises. The Listening Gallery of has over 75 recitals of poems, including Vladmir Mayakovsky reading his own And Could You? and a reading of Velimir Khlebnikov's famous Invocation of Laughter.
posted by Kattullus (8 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
To try to translate the Khlebnikov poem into English would drive me to suicide, but it looks like that translator didn't do all that bad of a job.
posted by nasreddin at 11:26 AM on July 19, 2008

Yeah, that's a great site.

Never heard of this Kutik guy, but "Из Катулла/From Catullus" is a cute little poem. It's not, of course, literally "from Catullus," but is an allusion to Catullus's famous lament for a sparrow. And what looks like a quote/epigraph—"... но коту ли знать о Катулле?"—seems to be original; it's better in Russian, because коту ли 'to a cat' sounds exactly like Катулле 'Catullus.' But that "Commemorative 5-kopeck stamp with Kutik" is a joke, dudes! Hint: there was no USSR in 1999.
posted by languagehat at 12:22 PM on July 19, 2008

Hmm... I note that Kutik teaches at Northwestern. I wonder if he's a well-known Russian poet who happens to teach there or if he got into the anthology because he's a teacher at Northwestern. Either way, I quite liked that little Catullus poem.
posted by Kattullus at 12:32 PM on July 19, 2008

Also, reading Invocation of Laughter in English translation out loud always has me in stitches. Does it have the same effect on others? How about reading it in the Russian?

Here's the site's translation:

O, laugh, laughers!
O, laugh out, laughers!
You who laugh with laughs, you who laugh it up laughishly
O, laugh out laugheringly
O, belaughable laughterhood - the laughter of laughering laughers!
O, unlaugh it outlaughingly, belaughering laughists!
Laughily, laughily,
Uplaugh, enlaugh, laughlings, laughlings
Laughlets, laughlets.
O, laugh, laughers!
O, laugh out, laughers!
posted by Kattullus at 1:46 PM on July 19, 2008

Awesome, thank you.
posted by jokeefe at 1:57 PM on July 19, 2008

Probably the coolest thing I did in undergrad was dramaturgy for a world premiere production of Pushkin's Boris Godunov - basically staging what was to be Meyerhold's production before the Stalinist forces put an end to it (and him). We used Meyerhold's notes and direction, and unearthed and completed Prokofiev's musical score - the work of three artistic geniuses, finally seen on stage. The layers of history in much Russian drama are just staggering, and I'll always feel privileged to have some tiny part in studying the canon.

Thank you for the links!
posted by ilana at 2:50 PM on July 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

"They're writing songs of love, but not for me,
A lucky star's above, but not for me,
With love to lead the way,
I found more clouds of grey,
Than any Russian play could guarantee."

-- Ira Gershwin
posted by Faze at 3:42 PM on July 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

It is not Russian, but one of my very favorite very small poems (Petőfi, of course):
A bánat? egy nagy oceán.
S az öröm?
Az óceán kis gyöngye. Talán,
Mire fölhozom, össze is töröm.
I translate it this way:
Sorrow? It is an ocean, vast.
And joy?
The ocean's little pearl, which, alas,
In the drawing up, we oft' destroy.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:51 PM on July 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

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