Literary translation from Russian is a both challenging and exciting endeavor. Partly this is due to the language itself (I’ll come back to this), but in many regards this is due to the way Russian culture has evolved.
Clenched between the East and the West (or perhaps clenching both), Russia has for centuries struggled to find its own “national way.” The nation’s inability to decide between the European and the Asian values led to idiosyncratic evolution of Russian culture and the self-proclamation of the “Russian soul“: A peculiar (and sometimes explosive) blend of western pragmatism and oriental spirituality.
The situation became even more exaggerated in the 20th century: As if in a intricate experiment set up by a curious researcher, this unstable substance was locked behind Iron Curtain, creating an ecosystem of close to 300 million people largely isolated from the rest of the world. Among other things, this led to a cultural variation of Island gigantism: We are greater; We know more; We can better.
And although the last tree decades were marked with substantial (and at times indiscriminate) westernization, we are still, to a considerable extent, who we were: an immense shoal of talented but disoriented ichtyes striving to find its current in an ocean that had been successfully developing without us; a whale shark in a china shop of sorts.
especially in the previous century. Separated from the West both physically and emotionally, it followed its own idiosyncratic path, which sometimes was parallel, and sometimes completely opposite to its Western counterparts.
The reasons are many: From the rulers’ aspiration to show that the Soviet state was “ahead of the whole planet” and the resulting denial of all things Western (genetics? Imperialistic propaganda!) the lack of proper English education that prevented Russians from truly embracing
In many cases, this plainly meant
For the same reasons, the quality and manner of educating English in Russia is
My name is Vladimir Zakharov. I’ve been translating professionally since 2001.
My breadwinning craft is business translations, but since recently I’ve been actively seeking work in additional areas, to match my personal interests and “serve a higher purpose.” More specifically, these are:
I used to sleep through all history lessons in high school. This had likely planted a time bomb in my unconscious, which only exploded years later. Now I’m a history buff with an especial interest in numismatics (have just finished translating my first full-fledged book on it), history of science, and 20th century history.
Am I a man dreaming I am a butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming I am a man? Not sure, but spending a lot of time thinking of things a grown-up butterfly is not meant to think of. And I am not afraid of the philosophical lingo that scares the heck out of many. It’s actually one of my guilty pleasures.
Despite having majored in physics, I consider psychology—a discipline often frowned upon by “real scientists”—to be the most important of all fields of knowledge for any human being.
I’m a happy father of a wonderful 2.5-year-old, and consume tons of parenting literature and research every month. Not to die of brain overswelling, I just have to let it go by translating some of it.
I was raised on children’s poems by Chukovsky and Marshak, and it wasn’t until my 30s that I realized how dissimilar children-oriented literature can be. Now I’m dreaming of combining the Russian and Western views on this subject by translating children’s stories between both. My first one is out soon!
Science fiction and fantasy
A lifelong fan of Strugatskys and Harrison, Frei and Pratchett, I never miss the opportunity to indulge myself into a week of escapist binge-reading amidst the hustle and bustle of a translator’s work routine.
As you could guess from this website’s title, I primarily translate from Russian to English and vice-versa. I also routinely work in German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Serbian. And, as a self-proclaimed polyglot, I will occasionally translate from Belarusian, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Italian, Macedonian, Norwegian, Polish, Slovak, Slovene, Swedish, Turkish, and Ukrainian.
All translations are translated by a team consisting at least of:
- A native speaker of the source language,
- A native speaker of the target language, and
- A professional editor knowledgeable of the applicable style conventions in the target language.
Unlike translations made by a single professional, this ensures:
- Complete understanding of the source material down to every nuance,
- Fully natural target text,
- Synergy from combined knowledge and perspectives of two professional translators.
The Russianist is
For sales/marketing-oriented translation, please refer to our partner site, .