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Group reads

Just starting a thread for general suggestions for group reads in the appropriate place.

I've half a mind (don't...) to go and see the forthcoming Complicite (i.e. Simon McBurney and his minions) production of Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita at the Barbican. Link here. I think I'll probably reread the novel first, in the Michael Glenny translation (I read the Pevear/Volokhonsky one a few years ago), to refresh my memory. I'm not suggesting a group read (not sure I've got the time or energy at the moment), but just wanted to throw it out there in case anyone else fancies reading it at the same time and discussing it afterwards. It is one of the greatest novels of all time, in case you aren't already aware of the fact.

That's a novel that certainly needs a re-read. I read the translation by Diana Burgin and Katherine Tiernan O'Connor, and while I sensed that this was clearly a very great novel, I also felt that much of it was going over my head. I could very easily be convinced to drop all my currnt reading plans, and read this one again.

When are you planning to read this?

And incidentally, I did hear somewhere that the Michael Glenny translation was a bit of a rush job: I don't know how true that is, but I merely pass on what I have heard. The Pevear/Volokonsky translation split reviewers: some loved it, but the TLS, amongst others, savaged it, resulting in a fairly heated exchange in their Letters section between the reviewer and Richard Pevear. The Burgin/O'Connor translation, and a more recent one by Hugh Alpin, have both, I understand, been well received. It may be worth while comparing a few passages from different translations before deciding on one.

Another thougt: since Bulgakov was quite clearly an author in the Gogolian tradition, how about reading Gogol's short stories as well? Here, the Pevear-Volokonsky version of the Collected Stories are, I believe, recommendable. If you're on for a Gogol-Bulgakov binge, I may well join you.

Within the next month or so, I was thinking. I'd be intending to finish the book by the end of March at the latest, as I'm away from late March until after Easter, so couldn't see the stage production any later than about this time next month. I thought I'd read the Glenny as I own two translations and it's the one I haven't tried. I enjoyed the Pevear/Volokhonsky one, but obviously can't compare it with the original to verify its fidelity to the text and spirit. Gogol's another of the great unread for me, so why not give him a go too? Good idea.

Just to say, I haven't started The Master and Margarita yet as I had intended because I've been ill for a while. Will definitely read it in the next couple of months, though.

My reading has been very fragmented of late. I've been reading a lot of short stories by Ivan Bunin - of which more later - and I don't know I am quite ready to start on a full length novel right yet. It's probably best if you started without me.

I've read several short stories by Ivan Bunin and enjoyed them.  Has been called a worthy successor to Chekhov's throne.  Not so sure about that.  Himadri, you are the only person I know who has read Bunin - who after all - won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Now there's a worthy reading project.  To read at least one work by every Nobel Prize winner to date.

Hello Mike, sorry for having taken so long to reply. I keep putting off replying till I had enough time to write a considered reply; for a author of Bunin's stature deserves more than merely a few casual remarks. And I fear I am inno state to write anything considered tonight: after yet another hard day in the office, I've just spent a couple of hours with our lad going through some of his maths A-level stuff: complex roots and Argand diagrams... My brain is totally dead right now!

I have now read some dozen or so of Bunin's stories, and they are very, very impressive. It is easy to see why he is considered as Chekhov's heir: of course, Chekhov is a tough act for any short story writer to follow, but I really don't think Bunin is embarrassed by the comparison.

What strikes me, looking back on his stories, is that what remains most ersstently in my mind is not so much the plot, or even the characters, but, rather, the imagery. These stories seem to be almost closer to poetry than to what we normally expect from prose narrative. I think I need thread a few more of the stories before I coud comment sensibly about them.

It is interesting, though, that when we think of emigre Russian authors, it is Nabokov we think of first rather than Bunin. But be that as it may, I look forward to reading the rest of the stories in the collection.

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