Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s recent book, Two Hundred Years Together, covering the intertwined history of Russians and Jews, is published in two volumes. The first volume covers the history up to the 1917 Revolution. The second finishes the story as far as 1995.
The work has not yet been published in English translation. The standard explanation for this given by the right wing is the jewish-controlled media. The only problem I have with that explanation is that it has been published in both Germany and France, countries that actually throw people in prison for questioning the Holocaust! It doesn’t get any more jewy than that. Yet they have published this work.
Whatever the reason is, it is an author and a subject that must be brought to the English reader. So, I am essaying to translate the work a few pages at a time and post it on this site. My Russian is all but gone (and never was very good), so I will be using the German and French translations as my sources. And I am not a professional translator. But I do it in the belief that, as Chesterton observed, if something is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.
At the same time, I am not a masochist: I beg our readers, if you catch wind that an English translation is in the works somewhere, let us know, so I can stop wasting time with duplicated effort.
In the meantime, however, I don’t regard it as a waste of time. And together, we can turn this “teaspoon at a time” into an advantage. Each installment will be easy to read in one sitting, yet, knowing Solzhenitsyn, even the smallest passage will be packed with material worthy of reflection and discussion. Already for me at least, statements that seemed meandering and even dumb have proved, on further reflection, to have a reason. I invite you to write your reaction to specific passages under the corresponding post, and place comments about the work as a whole under this one. I am dedicating a page here to placing links to each installment, organized as a kind of table of contents.
Some of the passages will be tough reading, because of all the strange-sounding names and places. But this should be taken as sign, not to give up, but to work even harder at it. Use google and even Wiki to backfill gaps in your knowledge. After the Bible, our gaining an understanding of the history of Russia is second in importance only to Germanic history (under which I subsume the history of all of Western Europe, England and the USA as aspects). Here and there, I will attach maps and pictures from the public domain to try to help the process. I intend to bolden the first mention of a name; I have already found this helpful in my own use of the material.
The phrases in quotation marks generally have a footnote citation, but it was too much for me to try to reproduce them. Any reader wanting a specific citation may contact us, and I will look it up.
Explanatory remarks in square brackets are not from Solzhenitsyn, but are a free synthesis of notes supplied by the translators in the German or French editions, and my own research. I follow the rule, that if I needed a word of explanation, then probably at least one other reader out there will also profit from it.
A single number preceded by [G] or [F] in square brackets will indicated the page number of the corresponding text: not necessarily both, but whichever one I used primarily in that passage. As time allows, I will consult with both, but this is more of a hope than a promise.
Elisions are not material skipped by me, but are part of Solzhenitsyn’s text.
There is an inordinate amount of text given over to direct quotations. Normally, this style should be seen as a defect in a historical work. However, there are at least two mitigating factors to Solzhenitsyn’s use thereof. (1) He may be recognizing that he is not a professional historian; he is cutting and pasting the works of others so to speak. (2) Solzhenitsyn’s view of literature as a basis for communal discussion is fostered by placing different views, sometimes indeed contradictory views, before the reader, so that the readers in engaging the material will be the ones to reach a consensus. For Solzhenitsyn, literature is dead and worthless if it is not part of the ongoing discussion of living people. This does not imply a relativism, as if there were no fixed truth. On the contrary. But it means that true propositions are not dead things, but are understood, argued for, and believed by persons. His method is an organic expression of this view of truth, society and humanity.
At times I may try to speed up the process by summarizing sections in digest form, rather than doing a full translation. If and when that occurs, it will be done as narrative that is set off by square brackets in whole paragraphs.
Here are the titles of the German and French texts. They are available from Amazon Germany and Amazon France respectively.
Zweihundert Jahre zusammen. Die russisch-jüdische Geschichte 1795-1918 [Two Hundred Years Together. The Russo-jewish history 1795-1918].
Zweihundert Jahre zusammen. Die Juden in der Sowjetunion [Two Hundred Years Together. The Jews in the Soviet Union].
Deux siècles ensemble, 1795-1995, tome 1 : Juifs et Russes avant la revolution [Two centuries together, 1795-1995, vol. 1: Jews and Russians before the revolution]
Deux siècles ensemble, 1917-1972, tome 2 : Juifs et Russes pendant la période soviétique [Two centuries together, 1917-1972, vol. 2: Jews and Russians during the soviet period].
I love reading First Word, and make a point of daily stopping by to check in. Having graduated from the public school system, I’m having to totally re-educate myself. You guy’s are providing a priceless service, God bless you!
When it comes to History, I’m seriously lacking in knowledge, (remembering the “time-line” made out of hearts and frownie faces that was a favorite of my history teacher…) I think this book would be very beneficial for me to read, and I thank you for your resolve to translate it.
That being said, this single post has re-inspired me to learn a foreign language. Instead of just learning a language “willy nilly” I have a goal – to be able to read this book!
My grandfather was in WWII, and fought in Germany, and always spoke as if he had a great respect for the Germans, (I couldn’t ever figure out why.) He even knew the language. So, I’d be interested in learning German. I could say a lot about French as well.
My question is: if I were to learn one of these languages, in order to read this book, which would you suggest? Are there other great books that are not published in English that I should know about?
Thanks, and God bless.
shotgun– Don’t feel bad; we have all been all but ruined by the government schools. We are trying to recover a few scraps to pass on to a better generation.
Of course there are lots of books that are not translated, many of which our nascent community needs to discover together. As we break the shackles of the regnant guild, many of the books that were thrown onto the ashheap will need to be dusted off, and the ashheap replaced with 90% of what the guild currently stuffs down people’s throat. So I predict that more and more will be rediscovered, that never were translated.
It’s kind of exciting really. It’s almost like stumbling through the wardrobe into Narnia. So I want to encourage you in your new project.
Either German or French would be fine choices. If you are agonizing between them, here are just a few considerations.
German starts out easier, but gets harder; French starts out harder, but gets easier. (This is for various historical-linguistic reasons.) You might look at what kind of support network is available where you live. Check the community college courses and adult-education adjunct courses that are offered — my experience is that the quality varies considerably from one to another, but getting a jump-start could be helpful. When it comes to future travel, remember that in the big cities English is always spoken, but the more you go into the hinterlands, the more it pays off to have the language. So ask yourself, if you travel into the European hinterlands, would it more likely be France or Germany? Consider also which operas you favor, or would be more likely to favor when the time comes that you discover opera if you haven’t already. Which philosopher do you prefer, Kant or Descartes?
Picking a book and going all the way through it, looking up every single word not already known, is indeed the way to master a language, at least for reading. You might want to pick a shorter book as the first however.
Acquiring German is a life-long hardship. Go with French.
I have translated a 55-pp monograph, from the German, summarizing this book (and its drawbacks) based on the German translation. The author is an academic historian who is sympathetic to Western survival.
If interested in this, or in my other writings, contact me at email@example.com
John — your contact link seems to be problematic — but yes, please post info on how people can obtain your translation.
DEAR SIRS, IF YOU GOOGLE THOMAS ALLEN’S NAME WITH “200 YEARS TOGETHER” YOU SHOULD FIND HE IS DOING AN ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF SOLZHENITSYN’S BOOK. HE SAYS HE IS FLUENT IN RUSSIAN , IF YOU CAN’T FIND HIM TELL ME AND I WILL EMAIL YOU HIS EMAIL ADDRESS. MARTIN.
Martin — thanks. Be sure to notify Thomas about our efforts as well. Our email can be found in the “about us” tab.
Everyone will have his appointment; and Solzhenitsyn was almost 90. Nevertheless, it comes as a jolt to hear of his passing. His work was life-changing for me, and for millions of others. Surely he should be in the final five for “man of the century” (and I can’t even think who any other member of that list should be just now).
Folks that were born after the great conflicts between the man and the regime and may only have vague familiarity with the name — this would be a fine occasion to try one of his works. The works will have abiding significance. The Gulag, though dealing with a past that many want to forget, has as much continuing relevance to the human situation in non-fiction as Lewis’ That Hideous Strength in fiction.
Yes, it was The Gulag Archipelago that opened my eyes to things that were never even hinted at in my public school classes. There are some wonderful passages near the beginning that should awaken us to giving up our liberty without fighting back. Stand up for your neighbors; care about other people esp. the oppressed.