Every so often I feel the need to dive into a chunkster – I got through a few last year, including “Anna Karenina” and “The Brothers Karamazov”, as well as “Life: A User’s Manual”. All hefty tomes, but it’s so enjoyable to sink yourself into a big book and really wallow in it for a while, not worrying about rushing to finish it and letting all the other books go to the bottom of Mount TBR….. 🙂

So what’s the large tome I’m involved in at the moment? It’s Bely’s “Petersburg” (yes, another Russian!)


I had a bit of a grumble about the translations here, and the indecision I was having about which version to read. In the end, I think I knew what my decision would be, but I rationalised it thus:

  • The first, the Cournos translation, has been criticised
  • The most recent by Elsworth has no notes!

So it came down to between the two Penguin versions, the long 1916 book translated by David McDuff or the shorter 1922 by Maguire and Malmstad. I went for the McDuff because I like his work and it’s the book as Bely originally published it. So far, I’m a few chapters in and loving it – I was slightly apprehensive, as “Petersburg” has been described as the Russian “Ulysses” – oo-er! It’s strange, dreamy, hypnotic, wonderful prose and I’m looking forward to seeing how the book pans out – watch this space!!