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KAHTOC. [The Cantos of Ezra Pound]. Translated into Russian by Andrei Bronnikov. St. Petersburg: Nauka, 2017.

 

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Three years ago, in December 2014, I was approached by associates of a well-known Russian publisher with the question whether I, as a poet who was also known to write in English and whose topics included history and philosophy, would be interested in translating The Cantos of Ezra Pound into Russian. I was astonished by such a straightforward question, but answered without hesitation: “Yes, absolutely.” The enormous challenge of the work was exciting to me. I wrote a sample of a few cantos and showed it to the publisher and reviewers. They all liked it a lot. It appears that the poetics, style and vocabulary I used in my translation fitted well with those of The Cantos.

After being assured of publication, I went on my journey into Pound's world. I decided to work on the translation of The Cantos a few hours each and every day. It was not really difficult. I was inspired and enthralled to write poetry alongside Ezra Pound. When people ask me how I did the whole book in less than two years, I usually answer: "After all, it is poetry, and you never keep writing a poem, of whatever length, for a long time." You need to hear and catch the music of the poem to be able to put it down on paper. The translation of poetry is similar: once you have captured the music, style and vocabulary of the original, half the job is done. The other half was something particular to Pound. I quickly realized that some kind of additional research in all areas covered by The Cantos is necessary. I have collected and studied dozens of books related to Pound and topics of his Cantos as well as many academic papers and notes, not to mention all the dictionaries, including the ancient Greek, Latin and Chinese ones (by the way, the identification of the Russian equivalents for Chinese personal names and toponyms was probably the most difficult part of the whole project). I visited most places where Ezra Pound lived and worked; I also went to recent Eliot-Pound conferences in Rapallo and Philadelphia. In September 2017, I had the great privilege to visit Mary de Rachewiltz in Brunnenburg where I discussed many things related to Pound and his work with her. All this helped me complete a preface for the book and the commentaries to the text. Finally, the translation, the preface and all the commentaries were set together in a huge volume of 944 pages. The book also contains a large index with names and bios of several hundreds of actors in The Cantos, which looks like an encyclopaedia of Pound's heroes. The last months of work were terribly exhausting. I made the layout of the translation myself to be sure that all the words, lines, ideograms and pictograms are in the right place. We completed all copyright formalities with New Directions and by the end of October 2017, we were almost done. The first Russian translation of The Cantos was officially released on November 1st, 2017. The book is now for sale in Russian bookstores. On December 1st, I gave a presentation of the book at a Moscow book fair, which was a great success: there is a huge interest in Pound and his Cantos in Russia. I was touched by the warm reception of the book during all five days of the Moscow book fair. People shook my hand and congratulated me for this achievement. More responses and professional reviews will appear any time soon. The work has been done, but its future has just begun: the Russian Cantos is starting its own life. I am very happy and proud to become a part of this process. The endless journey of Pound's text through the world literature goes on. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my gratitude to all those who helped and supported me during my work on the Russian translation of The Cantos. Thank you very much!

                                                      Andrei Bronnikov

                                                               Amsterdam, 10 December 2017