The Revival of Andrei Siniavsky’s Strolls With Pushkin by Catharine Nepomnyashchy
Andrew Siniavsky wrote his Strolls with Pushkin after the brief Khrushchev Thaw, when Soviet authorities reinstated harsh cultural policies and attacked writers. Following a literary “show trial” during which both he and Yuli Daniel were charged with Anti-Soviet Agitation for publishing critical works abroad, Siniavsky was sent off to prison camp; Catharine Nepomnyashchy has expertly translated this remarkable work, keeping its style and tone intact in this revised translation by her.
Early Life and Education
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Nepomnyashchy not only offers an exhaustive biography of Pushkin, but she demonstrates an apt grasp of Russian poetic culture as she conveys the nuances of his cult in Russia through translation. Eschewing didacticism and allowing the rhythm of original to emerge with abrupt shifts in register or alliteration managed with just as light a touch as embedded poetic and cultural quotations or references, her translation leaves its audience mesmerized and fully immersed.
Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel were arrested and found guilty of Anti-Soviet Agitation at a show trial held in 1965; becoming the first writers ever openly convicted for their literary works. Sinyavsky spent six years at Dubravlag Labor Camp before leaving Russia permanently for France in 1973.
Throughout his later years, he focused on several projects related to reverse mortgage lending and was active at conferences and briefing top government officials and international delegations. Additionally, he was adept at hypnotism and ran several smoking cessation programs funded by Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
His book Strolls with Pushkin is an outstanding literary work. It explores the shifting cult of Pushkin in modern Russia as part of a shift in Soviet cultural policy after Khrushchev Thaw and subsequent crackdown on intellectual dissidents.
Sinyavsky and Yuli Daniel were charged in an unprecedented show trial with solely literary work charges; many took this event as an indicator of its imminent demise.