If you love Russian literature, then you’ll hopefully be delighted to learn that Russian Life Books (an offshoot of the company that produce Russian Life magazine) are about to release a new translation of The Little Golden Calf, one of the Soviet Union’s most famous satirical novels.
The Little Golden Calf tells the tale of Ostap Bender, who, through illicit means, comes into a fortune of a million roubles. Of course, in the Soviet Union, where there are no legal millionaires, being filthy rich isn’t as easy as Ostap thought it would be…
According to the blurb at Russian Life, Anne O Fisher’s translation marks not only the first modern translation of the Little Golden Calf for almost 50 years, but is also the first ever unabridged and uncensored English translation (why previous US and UK based publishers saw fit to censor the novel isn’t mentioned).
Update: Publisher Paul Richardson emailed to explain that “previous versions of the novel in English (there were 2) have been based on censored Soviet texts. In addition, the translators for strange reasons (all explained in Anne Fishers excellent intro) also left out some important passages. The novel was first published in serial form in 1931, and that text was not censored.”
The Russian Life edition is the first translation of Ilya Ilf an Evgeny Petrov’s famous work. The translation itself is by Anne O Fisher, who has previously translated Ilf and Petrof’s American Road Trip, an account of the authors’ 1935-6 road trip through the United States. She is currently working on a translation of The Twelve Chairs, the prequel to the Little Calf, as well as a biography of Ilya Ilf.
For the film buffs among you – or just those who don’t like reading – you’ll be thrilled to know that The Little Golden Calf has been made into both a film (in 1963) and a TV mini-series (in 2005). Here’s a trailer for the TV series:
Anyway, I digress. Moving back to the book itself – The Little Golden Calf will be released on 1st December, and is available for pre-order from Russian Life for the very reasonable price of $20. Possibly the perfect Christmas present, either for yourself, or for the Russian literature buff in your life.