New Tolstoy Translation & Willa Cather’s Letters

Doug told us about Mary Beard’s blog, A Don’s Life.

Doug, a fedora-wearing bookseller who died of prostate cancer last year, was an aficionado of history who introduced us to all kinds of blogs we’d never heard of:  did you know, for instance, that there’s a Diary of Samuel Pepys blog?  During a brutally long weekly class (two hours), he was happy to scribble book titles and internet sites on the board so I could sit down for a few minutes.

Beard, a professor of classics at Cambridge, is the author of The Fires of Vesuvius: Pompeii Lost and Found, which I brought to class one day.

Doug was enthusiastic about her work.



I don’t always read her blog,  but recently she mentioned that Peter Carson, her late editor, had translated Tolstoy’s Death of Ivan Ilych and Confession for Norton. She is writing the introduction.

I am not familiar with Carson’s work, but I love Tolstoy.

I regret that I have been unable to take the “Tolstoyevsky” class–Tolstoy and Dostoevsky–at the University of Iowa.  (It would require extensive traveling)

Beard writes of her introduction:

Don’t worry, I am not getting above myself. There is also to be a more specialist essay from a Russian expert. My job is to set the scene  — and also to celebrate, and discuss, Peter’s role as translator (on which I have quite a lot of interesting stuff). All the same I thought I needed to do a bit more background work on books concerned and their author. Up to now, my knowledge of Tolstoy has been like many people’s I imagine: that is to say, some familiarity with War and Peace and Anna Karenina, and rather less interest in the spiritual, pacificist, social reformer that came later — in the period when both Ilych and Confession were written.”

I’m looking forward to it.

Willa Cather News.  On April 16, Random House will publish The Selected Letters of Willa Cather, ed. by Andrew Jewell and Janis Stout.

I am off to reread Willa Cather to prepare for the event.

And I’ll be selling my books in order to buy this one, because I must admit I have spent all my book money for the year.

Look at this gorgeous cover photo of Willa on the prairie.

Willa Cather Selected Letters

4 thoughts on “New Tolstoy Translation & Willa Cather’s Letters

  1. That is a lovely cover. Now I want to read and re-read some Cather as well! (And ALL your book $? In March?) Perhaps you overlooked another 0 to widen the column of values?


  2. Yes, I’ll have to find another “o.” I was walking down the street trying to think of a job I might like and I came up with “bookseller.” 🙂

    Willa is wonderful!


  3. I love Tolstoy, too, and have found a new appreciation for Willa Cather after reading her novel about Quebec. Of course, the title escapes me now, something about the rock…anyway, that lovely photograph of her also reminds me of Georgia O’Keefe. Perhaps it’s simply the time period, or the beauty of two individualistic, creative women.


  4. Shadow on the Rocks? 🙂

    Oh, Tolstoy. Nobody is as good as Tolstoy!

    Really an amazing photo of Willa! I think it must be near Red Cloud, where she grew up. We visited Red Cloud and saw her childhood home, the opera house, houses where people her characters are based on, etc. Loved it!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s