Global Blake: Vera Serdechnaia

Blake's poetry has been of considerable interest in Russia. Vera Serdechnaia demonstrates that influence with a particular focus on music and poetry.

William Blake’s poetry has generated much interest in Russia in last years. 

Dmitry Smirnov  issued in 2017 a full translation of Jerusalem (Magreb Publ.) and prepared a full bilingual version of Milton, out in 2021. Both books are published with a big commentary and the dictionary, written by Smirnov. These are first translations of these prophecies into Russian. Thus, by the time of his untimely death in 2020 Smirnov has translated almost all of Blake’s poems (with the exception of Four Zoas), offering a unique project of monological translation reading of Blake in Russian. 

Poet Andrey Tavrov created a cycle “Сrying on Blake” (Platch po Bleiku) (2018), which shows many interesting ways of re-creating Blake myth and biography in the context of Russian and world poetry. This book contains such poems as “Blake and the baby”, “Blake and an angel”, “Blake between the lake and wax”, “Blake. The sparrow” and so on. 

In 2020, in the Electrotheatre Stanislavsky (Moscow), composer and director Alexander Belousov presented an opera Book of Seraphim, based on Blake’s Book of Thel (in a translation by Bal’mont) and a piece of Dostoyevsky’s novel Demons (Besy) in English translation (“Stavrogin’s Confession”). This is an interesting example of the combination of Blake and Dostoyevsky, which can be seen earlier in Andre Gide and Czeslaw Milosz. In the same year, rock singers Leonid Fedorov and Igor Krutogolov created a series of music videos of songs based on Blake’s lyrics. It’s a very interesting project that united new Blake Russian translations, indie rock music, and extravagant low-budget videos in the face of COVID pandemic. Leonid Fedorov told he became interested in Blake when he saw an exhibition in Tate Gallery in 2019, and read his biography by Peter Ackroyd.

Vera Serdechnaia lives in Krasnodar, Russia. She is a Candidate of Philology, and a theater critic. She is an author of two monographs: Small Epics by William Blake: Narration, Typology, Context (Saint Petersburg: Dmitrii Bulanin, 2012, in Russian), and William Blake in Russian Culture, 1834–​2020 (Moscow: Gorodets Publ., 2021, in Russian). She is an assistant professor at Kuban state university.