Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Book Notes: (Illustrated) History of Canada, Russian-language edition

Just received, and one of about two copies in Canada: the new Russian-language edition of The Illustrated History of Canada, edited (and with an epilogue) by Yuri Akimov of St. Petersburg State University in St Petersburg, Russia.

I think it must be called The History of Canada in Russian, because they did not include the illustrations in this handsome hardbound edition -- just page after page of beautiful Cyrillic script, of which I cannot read a word. Even my own name looks mysterious to me.

Just to recoup, the original English language text was first published in 1987 by Lester and Orpen Dennys of Toronto, was a bestselling success that fall, has been revised several times, has never gone out of print (now published by McGill-Queen's University Press), and now exists in French, Spanish, and Russian translations. 

The general editor of the original work was Craig Brown, with chapters by Arthur Ray, Christopher Moore, Graeme Wynn, Peter Waite, Ramsay Cook, and Desmond Morton, with illustration research by Robert Stacey.  Of that group, sadly, only Rae, Moore, and Wynn survive. Graeme and I attended a lively book launch for the new translation at St. Petersburg U in September, though only via Zoom, unfortunately.

There is a story that John A Macdonald once attended a lecture by the Governor General at McGill University, and since he was addressing a learned audience, Lord Dufferin gave his address in Greek.  The next day a Montreal newspaper reported that His Excellency had given the entire speech without a single error or solecism. "How could the reporter know that?" asked a friend of Macdonald. "Because I told him," said Macdonald.  "But you don't know any Greek!"  "Ah," said Macdonald, "but I know a little about politics." 

Knowing a little about diplomacy, I am happy to report that this new translation is also entirely without error or solicism. Congratulations to Professor Akimov, and thanks to Elena Kulevas and Anne Mattson Gauss of the Canadian Embassy in Moscow for seeing that a copy reached me.  Long may it thrive. 

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