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Dead Man’s Coat

Peter Pomerantsev: Teffi

2 February 2017
Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea 
by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson and Irina Steinberg.
Pushkin, 352 pp., £16.99, May 2016, 978 1 78227 169 7
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Rasputin and Other Ironies 
by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Rose France and Anne Marie Jackson.
Pushkin, 224 pp., £8.99, May 2016, 978 1 78227 217 5
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Subtly Worded 
by Teffi, translated by Robert Chandler, Elizabeth Chandler, Anne Marie Jackson, Natalia Wase, Clare Kitson and Irina Steinberg.
Pushkin, 304 pp., £12, June 2014, 978 1 78227 037 9
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... she divorced the judge and went back to St Petersburg to become a writer. She left her children behind, including an infant son, but there’s no mention of this in her prose: the most the translator RobertChandler has dug up is a letter from 1946, when she was 74, in which she tells her eldest daughter that had she stayed in the marriage ‘it would have been the end of her.’ This sort of silence on ...

Off the record

John Bayley

19 September 1985
Life and Fate 
by Vasily Grossman, translated by Robert Chandler.
Collins, 880 pp., £15, September 1985, 0 00 261454 5
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... RobertChandler writes: ‘Life and Fate is the true War and Peace of this century, the most complete portrait of Stalinist Russia that we have or are ever likely to have.’ Chandler, who has had the herculean task of making a good translation of this long, moving and very remarkable novel, puts forward that claim in his Introduction. When a long honest novel comes out of Russia ...

The Unlucky Skeleton

Greg Afinogenov: Russian Magic Tales

12 September 2013
Russian Magic Tales from Pushkin to Platonov 
edited by Robert Chandler.
Penguin, 466 pp., £9.99, December 2012, 978 0 14 144223 5
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Red Spectres: Russian 20th-Century Gothic-Fantastic Tales 
translated by Muireann Maguire.
Angel Classics, 223 pp., £12.95, November 2012, 978 0 946162 80 2
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Stalin’s Ghosts: Gothic Themes in Early Soviet Literature 
by Muireann Maguire.
Peter Lang, 342 pp., £48.53, November 2012, 978 3 0343 0787 1
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... and capricious, whether protecting or punishing the innocent – echo through the vast corpus of folk literature collected in Russia since the 1600s. A team of Anglo-American translators headed by RobertChandler has now produced a collection of folktales superior to many of its Russian counterparts. Aiming to strike a balance between readability and completeness, Chandler has tried to represent ...

Burning Witches

Michael Rogin

4 September 1997
Raymond Chandler: A Biography 
by Tom Hiney.
Chatto, 310 pp., £16.99, May 1997, 0 7011 6310 0
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Raymond Chandler​ Speaking 
edited by Dorothy Gardiner and Kathrine Sorley Walker.
California, 288 pp., £10.95, May 1997, 0 520 20835 8
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... In 1955, the Daily Express conducted a poll to discover the most popular celebrities according to highbrow, middlebrow and lowbrow tastes. Raymond Chandler and Marilyn Monroe were, as Chandler put it. ‘the only ones that made all three brows’. Chandler shattered cultural barriers with Philip Marlowe, private investigator, immortalised on the screen by Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep ...


Philip Purser

13 June 1991
Hitler’s State Archltecture: The Impact of Classical Antiquity 
by Alex Scoble.
Pennsylvania State, 152 pp., £28.50, October 1990, 0 271 00691 9
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Totalitarian Art 
by Igor Golomstock, translated by Robert Chandler.
Collins Harvill, 416 pp., £30, September 1990, 0 00 272806 0
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... As a young soldier in Germany at the end of the war I was dropped head first into two manifestations of the Third Reich which half a century later continue to exert a peculiar fascination. After two months in what became the Russian occupied zone, the field company to which I belonged was moved back to the Harz Mountains area. We were told we would henceforth be located in somewhere called Lebenstedt ...
24 April 1997
The Foundation Pit 
by Andrei Platonov, translated by Robert Chandler and Geoffrey Smith.
Harvill, 168 pp., £14.99, May 1996, 1 86046 049 6
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... Towards the end of The Foundation Pit, our wandering hero pours a miscellany of inanimate objects onto the desk of the local Communist Party ‘activist’ and asks him to make an inventory of his findings. He had been round the village collecting every wretched cast-off object he could find, all the forgotten bits and pieces that had no name or identity, so Socialism could avenge them. All these ...

Us and Them

Robert​ Taubman

4 September 1980
The Secret Servant 
by Gavin Lyall.
Hodder, 224 pp., £5.50, June 1980, 0 340 25385 1
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The Flowers of the Forest 
by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 365 pp., £5.95, July 1980, 0 436 20087 2
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A Talent to Deceive: An Appreciation of Agatha Christie 
by Robert​ Barnard.
Collins, 203 pp., £5.95, April 1980, 0 00 216190 7
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Enter the Lion: A Posthumus Memoir of Mycroft Holmes 
by Michael Hodel and Sean Wright.
Dent, 237 pp., £4.95, May 1980, 0 460 04483 4
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Dorothy I. Sayers: Nine Literary Studies 
by Trevor Hall.
Duckworth, 132 pp., £12.50, April 1980, 9780715614556
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Milk Dime 
by Barry Fantoni.
Hodder, 192 pp., £5.50, May 1980, 0 340 25350 9
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... a detective story, certainly for its fantasy-life. I have only admiration for A Talent to Deceive, which gives a full account of Agatha Christie’s work, making even plot-summaries a joy to read. If Robert Barnard sometimes seems more astute than his subject, he’s delightfully appreciative of her strategies, of the right and proper use of character stereotypes, and of Mayhem Parva, her own special ...

There are some limits Marlowes just won’t cross

Christopher Tayler: Banville’s Marlowe

2 April 2014
The Black-Eyed Blonde 
by Benjamin Black.
Mantle, 320 pp., £16.99, February 2014, 978 1 4472 3668 9
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... t know him.’ She couldn’t have said the same to Philo Vance, S.S. Van Dine’s famous aesthete-sleuth – polo player, expert in Chinese ceramics, former student of William James – whom Raymond Chandler regarded as ‘the most asinine character in detective fiction’, and on some level that’s probably the point. (‘I’m not Sherlock Holmes or Philo Vance,’ Marlowe says later on.) Even so, it ...

Got to keep moving

Jeremy Harding

24 May 1990
Crosstown Traffic: Jimi Hendrix and Post-War Pop 
by Charles Shaar Murray.
Faber, 247 pp., £7.99, November 1989, 0 571 14936 7
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by Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe.
Macmillan, 400 pp., £13.95, February 1990, 0 333 53195 7
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... cover songs – ‘All Along the Watchtower’. Hendrix was also playing with the Isley Brothers, Curtis Knight and later King Curtis. The New York idyll was interrupted by the arrival of Chas Chandler, a character not unlike Eddie Ginley’s brother in the movie Gumshoe. Bass-player for the Animals, Chandler was keen to lay down his instrument and take up the lucrative cross of rock star ...
8 September 1994
Marina Tsvetaeva: Poetics of Appropriation 
by Michael Makin.
Oxford, 355 pp., £40, January 1994, 0 19 815164 0
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by Viktoria Schweitzer, translated by Robert Chandler, H.T. Willetts and Peter Norman.
Harvill, 400 pp., £20, December 1993, 0 00 272053 1
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...                               One woman Makes the rest look down. Wallace Stevens I’ve never much liked Tsvetaeva. A churlish way to begin: I do so simply because I think that, in not liking her very much, I am at one not only with much of her posterity but with almost all her contemporaries. On the way to hazarding some unpopular views, it is not bad to begin with ...


Sheila Fitzpatrick: Andrei Platonov

1 December 2016
...  appeared only in bowdlerised form. His largest major work of the 1930s, the bizarre novella Happy Moscow, was never published in his lifetime, though it now has a fine English translation by RobertChandler. The eponymous Moscow is a woman, not the city, though she floats around it doing some characteristic 1930s-Moscow things like parachute jumping (insouciantly lighting a cigarette in mid ...


Richard Poirier

20 December 1979
The Powers that Be 
by David Halberstam.
Chatto, 771 pp., £9.95
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... Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), created and run by William Paley; Time Inc, including Life, owned by Henry Luce; the Washington Post and Newsweek, run by Philip and then by Kay Graham; and the Chandler family’s Los Angeles Times. Beginning in the Thirties with President Roosevelt, who, more than any President before him, manipulated the newspapers and the new possibilities of radio (which ...

Good Day, Comrade Shtrum

John Lanchester: Vasily Grossman’s Masterpiece

18 October 2007
Life and Fate 
by Vasily Grossman, translated by Robert Chandler.
Vintage, 864 pp., £9.99, October 2006, 0 09 950616 5
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... the microfilm was smuggled to the West in 1970 by Vladimir Voinovich. (It must have been a bit like Celebrity Dissident Pass-the-Parcel.) In 1980 the book was published for the first time; in 1985, RobertChandler’s fine English translation came out, and in 1988 Zhizn i Sudba was published in Russia. Its author did not live to see any of this. After the arrest of his book, Grossman wrote the superb ...

At the Barbican

Liz Jobey: Strange and Familiar

1 June 2016
... the lightness or the precision of his best pictures. As with other photographers in this show, notably Garry Winogrand, what could be done with ease and subtlety at home was harder to achieve abroad. Robert Frank worked in Britain between 1951 and 1953. Born in Switzerland but based in New York, he was still half-hoping his pictures would appeal to a magazine like Life but at the same time he was trying ...

Injury Time

Robert​ Taubman

2 July 1981
Gorky Park 
by Martin Cruz Smith.
Collins, 365 pp., £6.95, May 1981, 0 00 222278 7
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The Turn-Around 
by Vladimir Volkoff, translated by Alan Sheridan.
Bodley Head, 411 pp., £6.95, April 1981, 0 370 30323 7
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Thus was Adonis murdered 
by Sarah Caudwell.
Collins, 246 pp., £5.95, March 1981, 0 00 231854 7
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A Splash of Red 
by Antonia Fraser.
Weidenfeld, 229 pp., £5.95, May 1981, 0 297 77937 0
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... are connections of cause and effect such as few crime novels have ever had to cope with. Gorky Park is a long novel because it tries to deal as fully with Moscow as Simenon’s novels with Paris or Chandler’s with Los Angeles. And perhaps also because its hero, chief homicide investigator Arkady Renko, is knocked about, by his own side and the other side, even more than characters in Simenon or ...

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