February 17, 2010                                                    

AMHERST, Mass.—AmherstCollege will host a conversation with world-renowned Russian literature translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky on Wednesday, March 3, at 4 p.m. in the periodicals area of the school’s Frost Library. The event, which is part of the Georges Lurcy Lecture Series, is free and open to the public.


Pevear and Volokhonsky are widely recognized by scholars and critics of Russian literature as two of the best translators working today.  Together, they have translated 18 books from Russian, including major works by Leo Tolstoy (most recently War and Peace and, last November, a collection of short fiction, The Death of Ivan Ilyich and Other Stories), Fyodor Dostoevsky (all major novels and two collections of short fiction), Anton Chekhov (stories and short novels), Nikolai Gogol (Dead Souls and short fiction) and Mikhail Bulgakov (The Master and Margarita). They were awarded the prestigious PEN Translation Prize for their interpretations of Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov (1991) and Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina (2002), which was chosen as an Oprah Book Club selection two years later, drawing nationwide attention to the quality of Pevear and Volokhonsky’s work and adding popular acclaim to their status as the leading figures in the field of Russian-to-English translation. 

In addition to the PEN Translation Prize, Pevear and Volokhonsky received in 2006 the first Efim Etkind International Translation Prize, awarded by the EuropeanUniversity in SaintPetersburg. They have read and lectured in many places, including the New York Public Library, the Strand Bookstore, the N.Y. Film Forum, the Hudson Review Symposium, the Tolstoy Foundation in Yasnaya Polyana, Colby College, Yale University and the University of Wisconsin, and have been interviewed several times for National Public Radio.  In 2003 they were awarded honorary doctorates by AlleghenyCollege.

Pevear was born in Boston, grew up on Long Island and attended AlleghenyCollege and the University of Virginia. After a stint as a college teacher (at MountHolyokeCollege, among other institutions), he moved to the Maine coast and eventually to New York City, where he worked as a freelance writer, editor and translator and also as a cabinetmaker. He has published two collections of poetry, many essays and reviews and some 30 books translated from French, Italian and Russian, and has received grants or fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the French Ministry of Culture. Since 1988, he and his wife and co-translator Volokhonsky have been living in France, where he is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at the AmericanUniversity of Paris.

Volokhonsky was born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), attended LeningradStateUniversity and upon graduating joined a scientific team whose work took her to the far-east of Russia, to Kamchatka and SakhalinIsland. In 1973 she immigrated to Israel and in 1975 came to the United States, where she attended Yale Divinity School and Saint Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary. Soon after settling in New York City, she was married to Pevear, and a few years later they moved to France with their two children.

In addition to the Georges Lurcy Lecture Series fund, Pevear and Volokhonsky’s visit is being co-sponsored by Amherst’s Departments of Russian and English, the CreativeWritingCenter and the Program in European Studies.