The Revolt of the Potemkin

Constantine Feldman, Constance Garnett
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ISBN 9780571246670 Format Paperback
Published 30/10/2008 Length 304 pages

About Book

Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, although made as Communist propaganda to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the mutiny in 1905, is an undoubted film classic. One of its sources was Constantine Feldman's memoir which Faber Finds are reissuing one hundred years after Constance Garnett's translation was first published.

Of course this isn't objective history but it is a vivid first-hand account of the unrest in Odessa and of the mutiny itself, the twelve days when the Potemkin flew the red flag of revolution and ruled the Black Sea.

Feldman's memoir is a rare book that should be better known; it's scale is smaller but it stands comparison with John Reed's Ten Days that Shook the World, his eyewitness account of the 1917 Russian Revolution.

  • About Constantine Feldman

    Constantine Feldman was an Odessan Revolutionary, a Menshevik, who joined the mutineers on board the 'Potemkin'. He perished in 1937 during Stalin's Great Terror. By a nice irony he had a cameo role in Eisenstein's film Battleship Potemkin.

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  • About Constance Garnett

    The subtitle of Richard Garnett's biography (reissued in Faber Finds) of his grandmother, Constance Garnett (1861-1946) is A Heroic Life. It couldn't be more apt. She remains the most prolific English translator of Russian literature: twelve volumes of Dostoevsky, five of Gogol, six of Herzen (his complete My Past and Thoughts), seventeen of Tchehov (her spelling), five of Tolstoy, eleven of Turgenev and so on. Many of these will be appearing in Faber Finds. In all she translated over sixty works. It is not, however, the sheer quantity that is to be celebrated, though that in itself is remarkable, it is more the enduring quality of her work. Of course there have been critics - translation is a peculiarly controversial subject, but there have been many more admirers. Tolstoy himself praised her. Of her Turgenev translations, Joseph Conrad said 'Turgeniev (sic) for me is Constance Garnett and Constance Garnett is Turgeniev'. Katherine Mansfield declared the lives of her generation of writers were transformed by Constance Garnett's translations, and H. E. Bates went so far as to say that modern English Literature itself could not have been what it is without her translations.

    This extraordinary achievement was accomplished despite poor health and poor eyesight, the latter being ruined by her labours on War and Peace ,a tragic if fitting sacrifice; hers indeed was A Heroic Life.

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