Writing about her collection, Shatalova recalls first encountering the nonsense poetry of Lear and other English writers in a Russian translation. Her research at the University of Oxford is on the subject of nonsense poetry, and the special challenges of translating the mixture of verbal and visual forms in this genre. As part of the Prize, Shatalova has consulted with librarians on the purchase of a book for the Bodleian's Rare Books collection.
Ms Shatalova writes:
One Very Nonsensical Collection
In Nikolai Gogol’s novel Dead Souls there is one peculiar character named Plyushkin, a compulsive hoarder, who collects everything that crosses his path. Well, I fear I might be a book Plyushkin. As a child I collected fairy tales and animal encyclopaedias. When I was at school, I started collecting different editions of Shakespeare’s sonnets. At the University, my attention turned towards collecting French decadent poets and editions of Wilde’s Salomé. But then I came across a strange-looking book called ‘A Book of NONsense. English Absurd Poetry Translated by Grigory Kruzhkov’ (2003). At that time, I knew nothing about Edward Lear or Spike Milligan, or what is the difference between nonsense and the absurd, but I was intrigued by its cover and contents, which would set me upon a different path: researching nonsense poetry at Oxford. Just a few months ago in my local Oxfam I came across two Russian children’s nonsense books from the 1990s (1989 and 1991 to be precise) signed by that very same Grigory Kruzhkov. The circle has been closed. As a professional translator, I am interested in the problems of translating Lear’s nonsense into Russian, that is why I have every possible edition of Lear’s works translated into my mother language. Lear’s nonsense represents an interesting literary and visual challenge for translators. Fortunately, this does not deter the admirers of the ‘untranslatable,’ and attempts at new collections of translations continue to appear, making my collection bigger with each year. In general, my nonsense collection can be divided into two strands. The first strand is devoted to the books by and about Lear, including various biographies, selected letters, translations, etc. The second is what I call ‘nonsense in context’ as it includes nursery rhymes and various collections of limericks.
To read Ms Shatalova's full essay, follow this link.
About the Colin Franklin Prize: The prize is offered in honour of Colin Franklin, the distinguished author, book collector and bookseller who has over many decades encouraged numerous young book collectors at the University. It is funded by Anthony Davis. The prize follows the tradition of similar prizes awarded at Cambridge and London and at universities in the United States and Canada. It is intended to encourage book collecting by undergraduates and graduate students of the University by recognising a collection formed by a student at the university. The prize is announced each year in October. For information see: www.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/csb/prizes