Wednesday, June 06, 2012

A New Chapter in Russia's Literary Heritage


One Thousand Years of Russian Literature to be Published in Uniform English-Language Editions and Digital Editions

NEW YORK, NY (June 6, 2012)—The Overlook Press and Read RussiaInc. today announced the launch of THE RUSSIAN LIBRARY, an ambitious one hundred and twenty five volume series of translated Russian fiction, drama, and poetry to be published over the next ten years. The project has resulted from the collaborative efforts of Overlook President and Publisher Peter Mayer, the Russian Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communication Deputy Director  Vladimir Grigoriev, and the directors of several private foundations. Overlook’s Russian publishing extends to the entire Ardis list of Russian works translated into English, continuing the work of Carl and Ellena Proffer and Joseph Brodsky. There are now nearly eighty Ardis titles published and available. In addition, Overlook also publishes, under its own imprint, many recent works by contemporary Russian authors such as Ludmila Ulitskaya and Olga Slavnikova.

THE RUSSIAN LIBRARY project is scheduled to begin fall 2013 with the publication, in both print and digital editions, of five initial volumes with a projected ten books each year to follow. Selected titles will have been nominated and commissioned by an Advisory Board of distinguished scholars, translators, and academics. The series will feature not only the obvious great masterpieces of Russian literature by Pushkin, Gogol, Lermontov, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Chekhov, but other major works that continue to remain unknown outside Russia, for example, early texts from the Russian literary canon such as the early works as The Primary Chronicle (1113), The Lay of Igor (1185), and The Novgorod Chronicle (ca. 1200). These will be followed by nine centuries of Russia’s rich literary tradition to the present day. THE RUSSIAN LIBRARY editions will be designed and produced to an elegant standard format, each volume introduced and critically annotated by appropriate scholars.

“The goal of THE RUSSIAN LIBRARY,” said Peter Mayer, President and Publisher of The Overlook Press, “is to transcend the well-respected classics and broaden the awareness of Russian culture by making available for the first time in uniform editions these important works of literature, so many barely known outside Russia. The English language is the key. Obviously a uniform series is easier and is more commonly published in the original language; however, this Russian project has value both for Americans and British readers and internationally as well, as English comes as close to a lingua franca as one can get. Our intent is to expand the appreciation of Russian literature wherever Russian isn’t widely spoken.”

Following in the grand tradition of such national literary collections as The Library of America, THE RUSSIAN LIBRARY is the first dedicated publishing program of this scale to honor the great literary accomplishments and heritage of a foreign language.

 According to Vladimir Grigoriev, Deputy Director of the Russian Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications, “The Russian Library will bring to English-speaking audiences in one uniform edition the full canon of Russian literature.  The initiative demonstrates Russia’s commitment to the support of Russian literature in the United States and the rest of the English-speaking world.”

The Russian Library initiative will be funded through Read Russia Inc., the U.S.-based sponsor of Read Russia 2012.  For more information, go to:


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