Translator's notes

Dust on the Ottoman Divan...


My first taste of Dadaeva’s writing was a single poem, ‘Perevernutyi mir khrupok’ (Upside down the world is brittle), published in the journal Zvezda in 2010. I soon sought out more of her poetry and was sad to learn that the author has switched to writing mostly prose over the last couple of years.

Dadaeva is an acute observer of everyday details as well as of her inner world. Her poetic musings are deliberate, slow and intriguing. At the same time, sound takes primacy over discursive meaning, driving the poem forward and creating a web of new allusions that can pose a challenge to the translator. Another characteristic feature is the scarcity of verbs in her lines – it is perfectly possible in Russian to have sentences without finite verbs, unlike in English. This means that the translator often has to substitute verbs, possibly adding new nuances of meaning in the process.

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