Crossing Borders: The Spectre of Gaito Gazdanov

‘The Gazdanov revival... is nothing short of a literary event’ TLS

Since a new translation of Gaito Gazdanov’s classic The Spectre of Alexander Wolf hit the shelves in 2013, readers have witnessed the revival and huge popularity of this long-neglected author. Born in 1903 and emigrating to Paris after the traumas of the Revolution and Civil War, Gazdanov carved an impressive literary career for himself during the turbulent interwar years, despite the privations and hardships of life abroad. Alongside illustrious compatriots in exile including the likes of Vladimir Nabokov and Ivan Bunin, Gazdanov wrote many novels and short stories drawn from Russian émigré life. Yet for their Russianness, his works are marked by the crossing of many borders, making him truly an international writer.

Join Melissa Purkiss and Bryan Karetnyk for an evening of readings and discussion about the life and works of this quintessential émigré author.

Bryan Karetnyk is a Wolfson Scholar at University College London. He was awarded a degree in Russian and Japanese from the University of Edinburgh in 2008, having spent periods in Moscow, St Petersburg and Tokyo. In recent years he has translated several novels by the émigré author Gaito Gazdanov, including The Spectre of Alexander Wolf (2013), The Buddha’s Return (2014) and The Flight (2016), and his forthcoming collection of Russian émigré short stories will be published by Penguin Classics in 2017. He reviews regularly for the Times Literary Supplement and is at present completing a Ph.D. on Vladimir Nabokov and the literature of the Russian diaspora.

Melissa Purkiss is a D.Phil student in Modern Languages at the University of Oxford. Her research focuses on Gaito Gazdanov, with a particular interest in Franco-Russian literary influence. She received her BA in Modern Languages from Oxford in 2014. The following year she completed an M.St in Modern Languages at Oxford, with a focus on Russian modernist writing both at home and abroad. She has written on the depiction of spaces in Vladimir Nabokov’s works, the role of ‘untranslatables’ in Marina Tsvetaeva’s lyric poetry and the intersection between Gazdanov and French modernist writers such as Proust, Gide and Céline.