Dashkova Centre

War, Peace and Poetry: Konstantin Batyushkov

Konstantin Batyushkov (1787-1853) was one of the creators of modern Russian poetry. He was an inspiration for Pushkin, and in the twentieth century Mandelstam wrote of him:

With oblique words he made us feel

the wealth and torments that we share –

the buzz of verse-making, brotherhood’s bell

and the harmonies of pouring tears.

He had a troubled life, in some ways resembling one of the young heroes of War and Peace. Caught up in the conflicts that engulfed Europe, he witnessed the burning of Moscow and rode into Paris with the victorious army of Alexander I. In 1817 he wrote to his friend Zhukovsky: ‘What a life I have led for poetry. Three wars, all the time on horseback and on the highways of the world’. Four years later he was to succumb to incurable mental illness.

Peter France is a former professor at Edinburgh University and the translator of many Russian poets, most recently Baratynsky and Mandelstam, In his new book, Writings from the Golden Age of Russian Poetry, just published by Columbia University Press, he weaves together Batyushkov’s life with translations of his writings in verse and prose.

To launch the book in the UK, Peter France will give a talk on Batyushkov, illustrated by readings in Russian and English and followed by an informal reception.

All are welcome.

War, Peace and Poetry: Konstantin Batyushkov

A book launch of Writings from the Golden Age of Russian Poetry (Columbia University Press) with Peter France (University of Edinburgh)

Project Room, 1.06
50 George Square