Verses and Versions > About

About

Vladimir Nabokov’s Verses and Versions: Three Centuries of Russian Poetry Selected and Translated by Vladimir Nabokov, edited by Brian Boyd and Stanislav Shvabrin (New York: Harcourt, 2008), offers Nabokov’s post-1922 translations into English of Russian verse (other than his versions, published separately, of Aleksandr Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin and the anonymous medieval masterpiece The Song of Igor’s Campaign) and two French poems.

“gloriously rich and astutely chosen. . . . Nabokov. . . wrote riveting essays about poets and poems he loved. Editors Brian Boyd and Stanislav Shvabrin were wise to include them. . . . superb”
               Barbara Berman, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 December 2008, E3

“As an introduction to the crowning heights of Russian verse, this work is invaluable.  As a testimony to Vladimir Nabokov’s skill as a translator and literary critic it is indispensible.”
               Paul Richardson, Russian Life, March 2009/April 2009 (52:2) 61.

Named one of the Best Books of 2008 by the San Francisco Chronicle.

“a new and necessary monument to Vladimir Nabokov, to his astonishing bilingualism . . . . [this] feast of Nabokovian translations . . . this sack full of treasures . . . for an Anglophone reader interested in Russian poetry it is an utter necessity and a bibliophile’s treasure. Not to mention teachers of Russian literature in English-speaking countries, who, I know, have already made this a text for their 2009 courses! And at the same time this book will be necessary for all who study or are interested in translation and untranslatability—and the problems of multilingualism, bi- (tri-, poly-) lingualism. . . . Nabokov . . . was and , . . . will remain the first and incomparable bilingual author of the modern era, a Bering bridge connecting Russian and English. I enthusiastically recommend this book to everyone who, as well as Russian, knows English and loves poetry, regardless of their country of origin and residence.”
               Victor Fet, Mosty

“marvelous . . . an enchanting collection selected and translated by VN himself, in his own maniacally precise, and literal, hand. . . . through the magic clusters of minute detail . . . we are let into the fairy-wild regions of Tyutchev, or the ice-blue lyricism of Pushkin. A lovely read, in whole, and in parts”
               Lila Azam Zanganeh, Feb 28, 2009, The Daily Beast

“essential for translated Russian literature courses”
               Booklist

“notable for the minor poets it uncovers, those who rarely make it out of Russia. . . . an unqualified success…”
               The Brooklyn Rail

“a book… that true Nabokovians will want”
               Los Angeles Times

To buy Verses and Versions, click here for Amazon, here for Barnes and Noble, or here for Powells.

In his major translation from Russian verse, the four-volume translation of and commentary to Eugene Onegin (Princeton, 1964; revised edition, Princeton, 1975), Nabokov consistently transliterated and added stress-marks to any Russian verse he discussed. The editors of Verses and Versions originally intended to follow his principles but decided ultimately to present the translations opposite not the transliterated but the Cyrillic originals.

This website has been designed to allow keen readers of verse and of Verses and Versions with no knowledge of Cyrillic to have access to the Russian texts in transliterated form, with the syllabic stress-marks (never more than one per word) indicated. The stress markings may be useful even for those who know some Russian but are sometimes or often unsure of stress.

The transliteration system here is Nabokov’s own, which combines clarity and consistency for English-speaking readers and avoids the special characters Slavic linguists use. See Method of Transliteration. Transliteration by Stanislav Shvabrin.

This website has been designed and coded by Genevieve de Pont and has been made possible through the support of the University of Auckland and its Faculty of Arts.

Brian Boyd