Welcome

– to this website about my translation work – translation from Latin, French and (especially) Russian.  You can read more about my published work in the “Books” section.

My particular interest is in the Russian writer Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837).  I am eager to generate an awareness and enjoyment of Pushkin among English readers that matches both the brilliance of his writing and his popularity in Russia. For this reason I have pioneered an approach to the translation of Pushkin’s narrative and other verse that emphasises both accuracy and readability, while avoiding the distortions that arise from the vain attempt to replicate Pushkin’s rhymes in his longer poems. I have also carried out original research on the literary, historical and topographical background to the works, the results of which are included with the translations.

Alexander Pushkin’s Ruslán and Lyudmíla is an entertaining tongue-in-cheek fairy story in the form of a narrative poem in six parts (“cantos”); it is Pushkin’s first major work and his second longest verse composition.   Click on Books for more information, and some short extracts.

My translation, originally published in 2005 by Hesperus Press, was republished in 2009 by OneWorld Classics and reprinted in 2012 and 2017 by Alma Classics (ISBN 978-1-84749-296-8).  It preserves Pushkin’s metre but – for the sake of accuracy and readablity – not his rhymes.  The edition contains both Russian and English texts, plus a full commentary and supporting essays.  It can be ordered from any highstreet bookshop, from the publisher’s website, or from the main electronic booksellers.

Buy here.

Borís Godunóv is a full-length historical drama in the Shakespearean manner composed by Alexander Pushkin in 1825.   It is a story of ambition, murder, remorse and retribution, charting the story of a Russian leader, whose dynastic aims were foiled by a guilty past.

Pushkin’s Little Tragedies, written five years later, are four one-act plays set in western Europe that each focus on the protagonist’s driving obsession – with status, money, sex or risk-taking – and its devastating consequences.

My idiomatic translation, while  following the metre of the originals (primarily Shakespearean blank verse), is in a contemporary and modern English, designed to be both readable and suitable for stage performance.   Click on Books for more information, and some short extracts.  First issued in 2010, it has been  republished by Alma Classics in 2017 in a revised and improved edition (ISBN 978-1-84749-691-1).  The translation is accompanied by a full commentary and supporting essays.  It can be ordered from any highstreet bookshop or from the main electronic booksellers.

Click on Books for more information, and some short extracts.

Buy here.

Eugene Onegin book coverEugene Onégin and Four Tales From Russia’s Southern Frontier (ISBN 184022 1364) contains my prose translations of Eugene Onégin and of several of Pushkin’s shorter narrative poems: A prisoner in the Caucasus, The fountain of Bahchisaráy, Gypsies and Poltáva.

Eugene Onégin and Four Tales From Russia’s Southern Frontier was published in June 2005 by Wordsworth Editions in their World Literature series. It can be ordered from any highstreet bookshop, or from the main electronic booksellers.

Click on Books for more information, and some short extracts.

Buy here.

 Eugene Onegin 2015 back cover_20150607_0001Eugene Onegin 2015 front cover_20150607_0001In 2015 Alma Classics issued a new edition of my translation of Pushkin’s masterwork Eugene Onégin, which they first published in 2011.  This translation, like its 2011 predecessor, is in lightly rhythmical prose and is set out in a form that matches the 14-line stanzas of the Russian text printed opposite. The translation is accompanied by extensive notes and commentary to enhance the reader’s enjoyment and appreciation of this remarkable work.
Click on Books for more information, and some short extracts.
My translation, in its revised edition (ISBN 978-1-84749-417-7), can be ordered from any highstreet bookshop, from the publisher’s website, or from the main electronic booksellers.

Love poems 2014 front coverThis is a volume of 113 of Pushkin’s love poems, in all their variety  – clever, humorous, engaging, descriptive, intense.  Ninety four of the translations are  mine; another seven are partly mine; and the rest are by other translators including Professor James Falen, John Coutts, Mary Hobson, and David and Lyudmila Matthews.  The poems are printed approximately in order of composition and so provide a lyrical account of Pushkin’s love life, as well as a chronicle of his developing personality and literary style.

It can be ordered from any highstreet bookshop, from the publisher’s website, or from the main electronic booksellers, ISBN number 978-1-84749-689-8.

Click on Books for more information and some poems.

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front converBelkin’s Stories is a set of five crisp and entertaining short stories of contemporary Russian life, told with Pushkin’s hallmark concision and irony.  They were Pushkin’s first completed work of prose fiction.  The stories are presented in the Editor’s foreword as having been related to the late Iván Petróvich Belkin, an obscure landowner of Goryúkhino village, by various acquaintances; but Belkin, his village and the foreword itself are all figments of Pushkin’s humorous imagination.

A History of Goryúkhino Village is a separate work, composed at the same time as Belkin’s Stories, but left unfinished and unpublished by Pushkin .   Its purported author is the same Iván Petróvich Belkin who compiled the Stories.  On the surface it is a comic work, a spoof history of a fictitious rural community, preceded by an “autobiography” of the imagined author, but it also parodies the pretentiousness of contemporary historical and ethnographic writing, and offers a veiled but scathing critique of social conditions in rural Russia.

The translation (ISBN 978-1-84749-351-4) can be ordered from any highstreet bookshop, from the publisher’s website, or from the main electronic booksellers.

Buy now.

 

cover 2013_20140717_0001For this volume I have translated several works by Erasmus from Latin into English.  The main work is Erasmus’ Praise of Folly, his witty and devastating exposure of the idiocies of contemporary life in the early 1500s.  The second work is his dialogue Pope Julius barred from Heaven, in which one of the most worldly of the renaissance popes appears before the gates of Heaven and is refused admission by St Peter on grounds of his ungodliness.  Thirdly comes a scathing epigram, in which Erasmus compares Pope Julius to his namesake Julius Caesar.  Finally there is a small selection from Erasmus’ Adages, his famous annotated collection of ancient proverbs.

I have added extensive supporting material, including background on Erasmus’ life and times, a short life of Julius II , and detailed notes on the texts.

The book was first published in 2008 by Oneworld Classics, now Alma Classics, who reprinted the volume in 2013 (ISBN 978-1-84749-324-8).

Click on Books for more information, and some short extracts.    Order here.

Prisoner of God

A brilliant student with a promising career ahead of him, the twenty-two-year old  Michel Benoît decided in the early 1960s to follow the path of God and take on monastic orders.  But after more than twenty years of self-sacrifice and a fraught quest for God he was unexpectedly “discharged” by the Church.

Prisoner of God is a memoir of Benoît’s upbringing in post-war Paris, his experiences as a monk, the churchmen he met in France and Rome, and the pressures he was put under by the Church.  It tells – in sometimes harrowing, sometimes humorous detail –  of the methods used by organizations, even in today’s free world , to  stifle freedom of thought and crush the individual.

My translation from the French was published by Alma Books in 2008, ISBN number 978-1-84688-052-0.

Click on Books for more information, and some short extracts from my translation.

 

Most recently I have produced a new edition and translation (from the original Latin) of Thomas More’s Utopia.

This has been an enormously influential book in the history of modern economic, social and political thought.   It describes an imaginary community on an island called ‘Nowhere’: there the inhabitants enjoy unprecedented social cohesion and justice, and laws and personal relations are based on reason,  which leads to surprising, and sometimes absurd, results.  The new edition also contains, as well as Utopia itself, contemporary letters that shed light on the composition, publication and reception of the work, showing Thomas More in mid-life to have been a man, not only of exceptional probity and intelligence, but also of generosity and humour.

Buy here.