Global Blake: In Conversation with Vera Serdechnaia

Mental Fight - Blake in Russia: Vera Serdechnaya in conversation

Date and time:
Tuesday 14 June, 2022 13:00 – 14:00 BST

Location: Online event

During the Global Blake conference, we had already begun conversations to present one event following up on William Blake's reception in Russia, not expecting at all how much the world would change in the intervening months since we last met.

After much discussion and meeting with Vera, we have decided to go forward with our original decision to invite Vera to speak about the translations she is making of the work of Andrei Tavrov. We feel that it is important to offer our support as a community of scholars with those who are involved in mental fight against that class of men whose whole delight, as Blake wrote, is in destroying and prolonging corporeal war.

Blake in modern Russia is unexpectedly popular: rock-singer Leonid Fyodorov recorded an album on his poems, and the publishing house Magreb issued the translations of Jerusalem and Milton, while the poet Andrei Tavrov writes his cycle Plach po Bleiku (Crying on Blake), where he explores a complex and creative dialogue with Blake. Tavrov represents Metarealism as a direction in Russian poetry, which means both "metaphysical realism" and "metaphorical realism". The cycle, published in 2018, holds 45 poems, and Vera Serdechnaia has chosen some of them to translate into English. In this session, Vera plans to show the way of Tavrov to Blake and to analyse his poetic language, which itself is not necessarily simple but is beautiful, full of strong images and ideas. Tavrov sometimes unites English Blake with Slavonic tradition, saying, for example:

Oh Albion! A sister to 

Halcyone! Oh kingfisher! Anglo-Slavonic anthem!

Vera Serdechnaia, Doctor of Philology, Krasnodar (Russia), is an assistant professor in the Department of Foreign Literature and Comparative Cultural Studies at Kuban State University and a theatre critic. In 2021 she has published, in Russian, a book on Blake’s reception in Russia and the former USSR. She is going on with the reception of Blake and Shakespeare in Russian literature, and she has some experience in translation from English. Now she is trying with translation from Russia.