And with that, we are in the first book post of the new year.
On the left is the last book to arrive during calendar year 2020: Some Kind of Monster by Tim Waggoner, from my subscription to the catalog of Apex Book Company. On the right is the first arrival of 2021: Boris Pasternak‘s magisterial Doctor Zhivago, translated from the Russian by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, who have translated so very many of the great works of Russian literature.
I am a bit ashamed to say that I have never read Doctor Zhivago, nor seen the movie. In the larger picture, despite devoting more than a little of my life to studying Russian culture and literature, I have many gaps in my education. To make up for this short-coming, I have just started reading Fyodor Dostoevsky‘s The Brothers Karamazov for about the fifth time. To clarify I have started it for the fifth time. I have not yet made it more than about 40 pages in, though this time I am pacing myself and have managed to stay focused for 30 pages. Pacing is the trick, and one which helped me read Tolstoy‘s Anna Karenina to completion back in the mid-1990s when my attention span was much shorter than it is now.
2021 will be the year of Russian literature for me. I recently (re-) discovered Read Russia, an organization devoted to Russian literature and book culture. Through them I have found a wealth of contemporary and current Russian writers whose works have been translated into English as part of The Russian Library series from Columbia University Press. Currently they have over two dozen books in print, with more being translated and added to the collection every year.
Welcome to 2021, everyone! May your year be full of beautiful writing.