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The rediscovery of Dorothy L Sayers in Russia, a talk with her translator

Join us for an evening of discussion with the Russian translator of quintessentially British writer - Dorothy L Sayers, whose book ‘Gaudy Night’ has been described as ‘the first feminist mystery novel’. Alexandra Borisenko, who has compiled a four-volume edition of Sayers’ novels in Russian and jointly translated ‘Gaudy Night’, with with Ekaterina Kuznetsova, will speak about Russian perceptions of the novels of Sayers and the experience of translating her.

Dorothy L. Sayers is undergoing a renaissance in Russia, thanks to a new translation of one of her most famous books ‘Gaudy Night’, by Alexandra Borisenko. During the Soviet period Sayers’s works were barely published (with the exception of a couple of short stories), and her name was practically unknown to the Russian reader. After Perestroika she was treated as another crime story writer, her intellectual brilliance unappreciated and overlooked by translators, until now.

Sayers poses a challenge for the translator: her books are full of quotations, allusions, hints, dialects and university slang. ‘Gaudy Night’ is probably her most difficult book, with its involved historical and cultural context: life on the threshold of the Second World war, the manners and customs of Oxford university, changes in women’s education, rules of the Detective Club etc.

Borisenko had to ask herself - what does the reader need to know to appreciate this and other Lord Peter Wimsey novels? What can be transferred across cultures and what is irretrievably lost?

This event is jointly organised with the Anglo-Russian Culture Club.

Alexandra Borisenko has been teaching literary translation at Moscow State University for many years. Jointly with Victor Sonkin and their students, they have published two anthologies of British and American crime fiction: "Not Just Holmes", and "Not the Butler!" Jointly with Viictor and separately, she has translated works by Patricia Duncker, Dorothy L. Sayers, Pamela Travers, Nassim N. Taleb, Julian Barnes, Hanya Yanagihara and other authors.