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Robert Chandler on Andrei Platonov's 'Chevengur' CEREES Book Launch

When: Monday, March 18, 2024, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Where: St Benet's Chapel QMUL 327A Mile End Road London E1 4NT

Join Robert Chandler for the launch of his new translation of Andrei Platonov’s Chevengur—a novel about revolutionary ardor and despair. Introduced and chaired by Maria Chehonadskih (QMUL)—who was a consultant on the translation–Chandler will discuss what many scholars consider to be Platonov’s most significant novel. Set in the mythical Russian town of Chevengur, here communism is believed to have been achieved because everything that is not communism has been eliminated. And yet even in Chevengur the revolution recedes from sight. Comic, ironic, grotesque, disturbingly poetic in its use of language, Chevengur is profoundly sorrowful and defies simple interpretation.

Chandler’s choices of Russian texts to translate have often reflected a critical attitude to the political implications of the Russian literary canon, and have focused on marginalised and oppositional figures. This stance has been reflected in his outspoken condemnation of Russia’s 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and he has appeared on anti-war platforms with Ukrainian authors, expressed public support for Ukraine, and given voice to Russian anti-war publications in his high-profile reviews. These efforts to think through and engage the public with the ethical implications of his meticulously researched translations have set an example for the wider field of Eurasian studies.

About the Speaker:

Robert Chandler is a leading literary translator, whose translations from Russian include Alexander Pushkin’s The Captain’s Daughter; Nikolai Leskov’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk; Vasily Grossman’s An Armenian Sketchbook, Everything Flows, Stalingrad, Life and Fate, and The Road; and Hamid Ismailov’s Central Asian novel, The Railway. His co-translations of Andrey Platonov have won prizes both in the UK and in the US. He is the editor and main translator of Russian Short Stories from Pushkin to Buida and Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platonov. Together with Boris Dralyuk and Irina Mashinski, he has co-edited The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry. He has also translated selections of Sappho and Apollinaire. As well as running regular translation workshops in London and teaching in an annual literary translation summer school, he works as a mentor for the British Centre for Literary Translation.

Chandler has been an Honorary Research Fellow at the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures, QMUL, since 2009; and an Affiliate Member of the Centre for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies (CEREES), since its launch in 2023.


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