One of the most original and ambitiousnovels to have been published in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union, Before and During caused an unprecedented rift among the editors of Novyi Mir when it first appeared in that celebrated journal. On its publication in France, it was hailed by Le Monde as ‘a novel with no parallel in contemporary literature, a novel where fantasy does constant battle with the insane intention of embracing all of history with a single story’. Now, finally, this masterpiece is available in English. Among its themes are the Russian Revolution, music, eroticism, memory and faith. Among its cast are Leo Tolstoy, Nikolai Fedorov, Alexander Scriabin, Lenin, Stalin, the inhabitants of a dementia ward in late-Soviet Moscow – and, uniting them all, Madame de Staël.
To mark the launch of Before and During in English, Vladimir Sharov will be joined in discussion by his translator, Dr Oliver Ready, and by Philip Ross Bullock (Fellow in Russian at Wadham College, Oxford).
Vladimir Sharov (born 1952) is a historian of late-medieval Russia who first turned to fiction in the late 1970s. It was not until the 1990s, however, that his extraordinarily imaginative and daring novels come to the attention of the public. When they did, they caused acrimony and controversy.
Dr Oliver Ready is a research fellow in Russian Society and Culture and Director of the new Russkii Mir Programme at St Antony’s College, Oxford. His previous translations include ‘The Prussian Bride’ and ‘The Zero Train’ by Yuri Buida. He has recently published articles in Modern Language Review ('Aleksei Slapovskii and the Art of Adapting') and the Slavonic and East European Review ('In Praise of Booze: Moskva-Petushki and Erasmian Irony' and 'The Myth of Vasilii Rozanov the 'Holy Fool' through the Twentieth Century'). He is general editor of the anthology, The Ties of Blood: Russian Literature from the 21st Century (Rossica, 2008). He is Consultant Editor for Russia and East-Central Europe at the Times Literary Supplement.
Dr Philip Ross Bullock is a lecturer in Russian within the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages, Oxford.