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John Bayley, 7 August 1986

No, I’m not afraid 
by Irina Ratushinskaya, translated by David McDuff.
Bloodaxe, 142 pp., £4.95, May 1986, 0 906427 95 9
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Shcharansky: Hero of Our Time 
by Martin Gilbert.
Macmillan, 467 pp., £14.95, April 1986, 0 333 39504 2
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The Russian Orthodox Church: A Contemporary History 
by Jane Ellis.
Croom Helm, 531 pp., £27.50, April 1986, 0 7099 1567 5
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... Tsvetaeva and Akhmatova. Certainly the individual tones come across, even in English, in David McDuff’s very capable and accurate-seeming translation, although in the absence of the Russian text it is not possible to ‘give way’ to them as one does to authentic sound in a poem. But the atmosphere of fresh reality – the flavour of the ...

Glee

Gabriele Annan, 7 September 1995

1920 Diary 
by Isaac Babel, edited by Carol Avins, translated by H.T. Willetts.
Yale, 126 pp., £14.95, June 1995, 0 300 05966 3
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Collected Stories 
by Isaac Babel, translated by David McDuff.
Penguin, 364 pp., £6.99, June 1995, 0 14 018462 7
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... Isaac Babel was a middle-class Jew from Odessa who rode to war with a Cossack regiment. This extraordinary conjunction occurred during the Russo-Polish war of 1920. It is not news, because the single work that made Babel a famous writer – the short story collection Red Cavalry – is based on his experiences that summer, when he turned 26, at the First Cavalry Army HQ in a Volhynian village ...

Tricky Minds

Michael Wood: Dostoevsky, 5 September 2002

Dostoevsky: The Mantle of the Prophet 1871-81 
by Joseph Frank.
Princeton, 784 pp., £24.95, May 2002, 0 691 08665 6
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... Volokhonsky’s 1990 translation – the translation of the notes is by Edward Wasiolek. In David McDuff’s 1993 version we read: ‘The greater the stupidity, the greater the clarity. Stupidity is brief and guileless, while wit equivocates and hides. Wit is a scoundrel, while stupidity is honest and sincere.’ And again, in Constance Garnett’s ...

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