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In the course of this evening of discussion, readings and song, leading translator Robert Chandler tackles two important questions -

Why do people go on lazily repeating that Pushkin is untranslatable?

Why is Andrey Platonov, perhaps the greatest Russian writer of the last century, still relatively unknown in the West?  

Singer-songwriter Ben Holland will perform his song based on Platonov’s story “The Return”. Chandler will read aloud from Holland’s song adaptation of Pushkin’s “The Queen of Spades” and other passages of both Pushkin and Platonov.

As part of our present exhibition: Anglo-Russian Dictionary, by artists Irina Zatulovskaya and Anne Rothenstein, Pushkin House is holding a series of events looking at the dilemmas of translating cultural phenomena as well as language.


Robert Chandler’s translations from Russian include a number of works by Vasily Grossman and Andrey Platonov. He has also compiled three anthologies for Penguin Classics: of Russian short stories, of Russian magic tales and, with Boris Dralyuk and Irina Mashinski, The Penguin Book of Russian Poetry. He is a co-translator of three volumes of memoirs and stories by Teffi and the author of a short biography of Alexander Pushkin.  His translation of Vasily Grossman’s Stalingrad will be published in summer 2019.  Teaching is increasingly important to him, and he runs a monthly translation workshop at Pushkin House (London).


Born in Carlisle, Ben Holland now lives and writes songs in London. One lucky day when he was busking in Waterloo station, Joan Armatrading happened to pass by.  She asked Ben to support her on her upcoming tour. Ben jumped at the chance and over the recent years has supported Joan in major concert venues across Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the UK and Ireland. He also regularly plays with the 'Ben Holland Band'- usually marathon several hour sets that are now must-sees on the London circuit.